City manager retires, stays on the job

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011

Soldotna City Manager Larry Semmens has technically retired, but will in all likelihood remain in the position for at least another year.

Semmens put in his resignation during a March 9 city council executive session, removing himself from the Public Employees' Retirement System. However, the council voted unanimously Wednesday night to cut the position of city manager from the PERS system, allowing Semmens to continue working as city manager if the council chooses to hire him as a contract employee.

"I am retiring from PERS," Semmens stated, "but if they will have me -- and we'll know at the next meeting, I think -- I'll continue to work."

This practice is not uncommon, and the cities of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Palmer have also opted their city manager positions out of PERS recently.

"There are a lot of city managers, police chiefs, librarians, and the like that are very high-performing and have retired in the system," Mayor Peter Micciche explained, "and municipalities have felt that it's more valuable to keep them there for as long as they would like to stay than going out for a search."

The council performed this same procedure for Semmens' predecessor, Tom Boedeker. The change doesn't cost the city or the system anything; in fact, it saves Soldotna about $2,000. The council can also opt the position back into PERS at any time, which they did for Semmens when he took over for Boedeker.

"The reality of it is is when you have someone like Larry Semmens, you're willing to work to keep them in place for as long as they're functioning as highly as Larry does," Micciche said.

Micciche fully expects the council to approve another year-long contract for Semmens, otherwise they wouldn't have passed the resolution Wednesday night.

"I really like working with the high quality people that we have here at Soldotna," he said. "We make a good team and we've got work to do, and I hope I'm able to stick around and get more of this work done."

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