After a long and detailed search, the city of Moab has found a new city manager.
The Moab City Council voted 4-0 on Friday, March 20 to approve a three-year employment agreement with Rebecca B. Davidson. Council member Doug McElhaney was absent from the meeting.
Davidson is scheduled to start her new job on May 11, according to Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison.
She will replace Donna Metzler, who stepped down in February after 21 years on the job to pursue her longtime dream of becoming a teacher.
Davidson is coming to Moab from Kemmerer, Wyoming, where she has served as city administrator since early 2012, according to the Kemmerer Gazette. Before that time, she worked as the town manager and town engineer of Timnath, Colorado.
She was among 57 candidates and eight finalists for Moab’s city manager position, and Sakrison said her name quickly rose to the top, based on the qualifications she built up over the last 20-plus years.
“Her experience was paramount,” he said March 24. “She’s had a broad range of municipal experiences dealing with large capital improvement projects, along with human resources. She covers the bases pretty well.”
Under the terms of her contract, Davidson will earn a base salary of $115,000 annually, subject to yearly increases at the city council’s discretion. She will also be eligible for the same cost-of-living increase that other city employees may receive.
Davidson has a degree in engineering from Ohio State University, and she’s a licensed professional engineer in the state of Wyoming. She also runs her own engineering company.
Despite those qualifications, Sakrison said the city doesn’t expect Davidson to fill a second role as its staff engineer.
That position has been vacant since last year, when former Moab City Engineer Rebecca Andrus went to work for the city of Salem, Utah. Moab city officials are actively continuing their search for a replacement, and once they hire that person, Sakrison expects that Davidson will serve more as a second set of eyes on city engineering projects.
“I think that’s going to be complementary to whoever gets that job,” he said. “Four eyes are better than two.”
Sakrison said he believes that Davidson is coming to the job with the right attitude.
“She seems motivated, with a real desire to be a part of this community,” he said.
Although she won’t officially begin her new job until May, Davidson is working in the interim to bring herself up to speed.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to be in Moab,” she said in a brief email to the Moab Sun News.
Moab City Council member Kyle Bailey said he’s happy to have someone with Davidson’s experience as the city continues the process of upgrading and replacing its infrastructure – some of which dates back to the 1950s.
“I’m excited to get her here and on board,” Bailey said. “We’ve got a number of projects that are really going to tax the staff here.”
Those plans include proposals to build a new wastewater treatment plant, and to improve city sewer and water lines and roads.
“We’ve got a lot of important things facing our community, so I think she’ll bring what we need to the table,” Bailey said.
Although McElhaney wasn’t there for the vote to approve Davidson’s contract, he had a chance to meet with her beforehand, and he supports the council’s decision to offer her the job.
“I think she’ll be a great asset,” he said.
Davidson was previously involved in a protracted legal battle that pitted a Colorado contractor against the Town of Timnath. The town eventually settled that lawsuit, which came after contract workers accidentally struck a gas line and blew up the Timnath Presbyterian Church in 2009, according to the Coloradoan newspaper of Fort Collins.
With support from the town’s council, Davidson ordered contractors to stop their work, the Coloradoan reported. Project builder Gerrard Excavating, Inc., went on to sue the town and Davidson, claiming that it was owed for work it had already completed, according to the Coloradoan.
The town eventually placed Davidson on paid leave, and she left her job in early 2011. Both sides signed a “nondisparagement” clause that prevented them from speaking publicly about her departure, the Coloradoan reported.
Kemmerer Mayor Zem Hopkins said in a March 11 statement that his council hired Davidson following an extensive background check, and he emphasized that officials there have faith in her.
Likewise, a Moab city review committee that included Sakrison and Moab City Police Chief Mike Navarre conducted a thorough review of the dispute in Timnath, and McElhaney said that he and other city officials are reassured by their findings.
“They brought up the concerns we had, and everyone felt comfortable with how it had been handled,” he said.
Rebecca Davidson to join staff in May
We’ve got a lot of important things facing our community, so I think she’ll bring what we need to the table.