Kenai finance manager makes Soldotna short list

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2008

Kenai's finance manager is among six candidates being considered to replace the retiring city manager of Soldotna.

During Wednesday's Soldotna City Council meeting, Mayor Dave Carey announced the names of candidates moving on to the next stage in the selection process, including that of Larry Semmens, who has been finance manager in Kenai since December 1996.

Carey said 52 people had applied for the city manager position coming open when Tom Boedeker retires in August.

With the assistance of executive recruitment firm Waters-Oldani, Soldotna conducted a nationwide search for a replacement.

Carey said eight of the 52 applicants are from Alaska.

Two other Alaska finalists are Don Baird, city manager of Bethel, and Alan Sorum, borough manager from Skagway.

Rounding out the list of six still being considered are Dennis Bow, city manager of Flushing, Mich., Michael Miller, city administrator from Raytown, Mo., and Carlo Pilgrim, town manager of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

The six on the list were selected during a special executive session of the Soldotna council.

Carey said he anticipates "a more in-depth look in the next two to three weeks" to determine which of the six go forward in the hiring process.

During an interview Thursday morning, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said if Semmens is selected, "it would be a tremendous loss for (Kenai)."

"Larry (Semmens) is the finest finance director I've worked with," Koch said.

"It would be extremely hard to replace him ... to find someone with that skill set," he said.

In addition to being Kenai's finance manager, Semmens serves on the Alaska Retirement Management Board. In March 2007, he was appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin to a second four-year term.

One of his accomplishments in that post has been to assure municipalities be credited for efforts they made to pay down unfunded liabilities that surfaced in their Public Employee Retirement Systems accounts.

Soldotna was one such proactive municipality, paying more than $1 million to reduce its estimated liability.

The state legislature, this year, approved returning the advance payments to the cities, including $1.1 million to Soldotna.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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