Jabusch appointed as interim Borough Manager
On Aug. 6 the City and Borough of Wrangell will have a new interim Borough Manager to fill the spot left by the departing Tim Rooney – and it’s a familiar face to everyone in town.
The Borough Assembly appointed Jeff Jabusch, who currently sits as the finance director for the city, to the top municipal spot last week in a unanimous vote, though Assembly member Ernie Christian was not present.
Jabusch, who previously served as acting manager when Rooney or other past managers were out of town, said it will be different to be an interim manager, as opposed to simply filling in when the permanent manager is away on business.
“I have done this job before,” Jabusch said. “So I’ve been in the seat, but this is a little different. I am happy to help out and I am ready for retirement in a few years, so this will give me a chance to help train a person for my job. It will give the city a good transition into some new people.”
Jabusch’s management experience has included working for the city since 1977. He added that while his training and background is in finance, he understands the workings of the manager’s office.
“My college training is in accounting, but I have done the manager’s job two times before for about 10 months each time. I have also filled in for other managers in-between times so I know the routine. I have been here long enough to know a little about everything and not be an expert at anything.”
In a combined interview with the Sentinel and KSTK FM, Jabusch spelled out his priorities over the next few months as he steps into his new position.
“Right now, with the finance department, I have auditors coming in a few weeks, so that is my main priority,” Jabusch said. “Then we will have to advertise for a finance director as quick as possible. I also want to meet with the department heads to see what they have going and I want to talk to the Assembly to what goals they have. We also have a legislative session coming up where we will be asking for money, so we will go through that process to get a list of things we need funding for.”
The city is advertising for the position of Borough Manager through the end of September. Jabusch said his tenure would hopefully involve no more than a couple of years and the chance to train a new finance director.
“I don’t know what the Assembly’s long-term goals are but I don’t think I want to do this as a career,” he added. “I’m here for a couple of years and if we hire a new finance director we can’t kick them out when I am no longer the manager. Plus, I have no plans to leave Wrangell and there are things I would like to do when I retire.”
Rooney said he has absolute faith in the abilities of Jabusch in his new job.
“He has worked for this organization for almost 36 years and is certainly familiar with every aspect of the community,” Rooney said. “I don’t see any circumstance where Jeff would make a bad decision for the organization or the people of Wrangell.”
Prior to Jabusch’s appointment, the Assembly also took up two items relating to the hiring of family members who work within city government.
The first item discussed and approved was a change to Wrangell Municipal Code section 3.04.114, which deals with nepotism.
In the prior version of the code, family members of the Borough Manager, Mayor, members of the Assembly, or other department heads or supervisors were prohibited from appointing or hiring family members of the third degree of affinity or consanguinity to positions of “profit.”
The new code goes one step further than that by modifying the degree of relationship to a “second-degree” affinity or consanguinity. That would include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles or aunts, first cousins, nephews or nieces, and brothers or sisters.
There is still a chance for people with a second-degree level of blood relationship to work for the city, however, if the Assembly approves the hiring or retention of the employee.
“Relatives, within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity to the borough manager cannot be appointed to an office or position of profit in the borough government without the prior approval of the borough assembly,” the new code reads. “If an employee is currently working for the borough government and a relative within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity is hired as the borough manager, that person cannot continue their employment with the borough without approval of the borough assembly.”
With Jabusch’s ascent to the top spot in Wrangell’s organizational chart an ordinance allowing for his wife, library director Kay Jabusch, as well as his nephew, city worker Jeffry Davidson, to stay on in their positions was passed unanimously.
The ordinance will transfer the supervision of both Kay and Davidson away from the Borough Manager, where it previously stood, to Borough Clerk Kim Lane.