Heather Thomas confirmed
as Snohomish city administrator
Prior administrator Steve Schuller quickly finds a new job after being let go
SNOHOMISH — New city administrator Heather Thomas began her work Monday this week.
Thomas, who replaces Steve Schuller, received a 6-0 confirmation by the City Council of Mayor Linda Redmon’s selection last week.
She called it a dream come true to serve her city. Thomas’ family arrived here from Anchorage when she was 15, and she is a Snohomish High grad.
From the starting gate, Thomas said she plans to do a “lot of listening and learning.” She’s begun meeting with city staff members individually to understand their needs.
Among her opening tasks, she plans to survey the city’s active contracts to see which will need attention soon. She also plans to review city policies to see if there are ways to add diversity, equity and inclusion language.
Schuller, meanwhile, last week was hired as the public works director for the city of Oak Harbor against a field of 24 candidates. He started Monday, March 21.
Thomas’s salary this year is $12,318 per month not including benefits. Next year, her salary will total $161,370, which is $13,447.50 per month not including benefits.
In 2021, Schuller’s salary was $169,908, which is $14,159 per month not including benefits. He held two hats: city administrator and utilities general manager. He started at $12,550 per month not including benefits.
Redmon said Thomas’s salary was decided by comparing the salaries for city administrators and managers in cities similar to Snohomish’s size which are between 7,00 and 15,000 residents. The cities used as comparables pay their city administrators and managers salaries of between $10,000 and $15,500 a month.
It is comparing apples to oranges, but Thomas earned a $119,940 salary as the public and government affairs manager at the Snohomish Health District, the countywide health authority.
In seven years at the health district, she helped get state legislation passed to allow adult opioid fatality reviews to be analyzed, and strengthened relationships with area school districts. She said she developed the Snohomish Overdose Prevention resource website and also led the creation of a
nonprofit public health foundation which opened a door
to new grant fund sources.
COVID-19 tested her mettle on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“I get things done and make transformative changes happen,” Thomas told the City Council.
She said she hopes her hiring is seen as an opportunity in moving the city forward. “Rarely is a city able to hire a city administrator who knows the community. Someone who has the relationships and the experience to step in.”
Redmon told the council last week that Thomas is “a perfect fit for this position.”
“She has balanced community needs and staff needs during one of the most challenging times,” Redmon said, speaking to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Redmon told the Tribune previously that she did not intend to replace Schuller when she took office in January, but had a change of mind when contemplating who would be best in achieving goals she has for the city. Redmon approached Thomas a few weeks ago offering the job.
Former Mayor John Kartak phoned into last week’s council meeting and said the move signifies “the sudden firing of Steve Schuller without cause — the city’s greatest and best employee.”
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