Ustick lands mixed review from City Council (UPDATE)

Matt Algarin

Councilman Tuffy Dixon isn't sure that City Manager Maryann Ustick is the right person for the job.

"I don’t know if Mrs. Ustick, although a great person, seems to be who we need to lead us into the future," he said. "I worry about, I think that she has a lot going on, I worry about whether or not she has gotten enough guidance from us, but some of the things that have come out of her office is not something I would be really proud of."

During Monday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Sam Seevers and the rest of the council were tasked with wading through the city manager’s annual performance review. The evaluation measured the city manager’s performance against a specific set of goals established by the council.  Ustick celebrated her one year anniversary with the city in October.

To read more about what was discussed, CLICK HERE.

While Dixon was the most critical of the bunch, other city leaders said Ustick had done an exemplary job. Councilman Jim Wood told the council he's always been a supporter of Ustick, saying he would be "today and tomorrow."

"We've been pretty lucky since I've been on this council," he said. "We've seen eye-to-eye on most things. I think the system works pretty good and I'm in her corner and will remain there."

Councilman Jim Bagby told his colleagues that Ustick has done a good job, but there is room for improvement.

"I think she did a good job, but I didn’t think she did the best job she could do, that I know she is capable of," he said. "She has a sick parent that she's caring for, she's got a husband that's 2,000 miles away, or however far, and she's trying to go back and forth."

Bagby, who called himself a "very candid" person, said the first question he asked Ustick when they sat down to discuss her evaluation was whether or not she was happy.

"Having been separated a lot from my wife and my children, that's not an easy task," he said. "She explained to me that in June, or whatever, we are all going to be one big happy family again, and she is going to be able to give her undivided attention to the task at hand."

Councilwoman Sandy Trammell said Ustick racked up a lot of “negatives,” but she blamed the process as opposed to Ustick’s performance. She said the city had to look at its yearly objectives to see if they had been met, then look at whether goals were going to be five or 10-year goals.

"It makes it much easier to determine whether or not you worked successfully toward meeting the goal," she said. "It's too wavy; it makes it too subjective."

City leaders agreed that they needed to revamp the evaluation form and agreed unanimously to create a document that would be more "in line" with the city's current goals and objectives.

"We have to have milestones or interim goals," added Bagby.

Councilman Larry Williges said he was "very pleased" with Ustick's performance.

"If there was a way to give her a raise, I'd certainly be on the bandwagon to do it," he said.

Ustick didn't receive a raise, since the city's budgets are slim. Her pay rate will remain at $119,000.

After everyone spoke, Ustick had her chance to address her seven bosses.

"Everyone spent a lot of time giving me really good feedback, both positive and negative," she said. "When you come to a new community with a new staff and new issues, it's definitely an adjustment and I needed that feedback."

Ustick agreed that an updated evaluation form would be beneficial moving forward.

"I look forward to working with you over the next year to improve my performance," she said.