Bakaly rejects Calif. job | ParkRecord.com

Bakaly rejects Calif. job

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Park City Manager Tom Bakaly, saying he enjoys his City Hall post and the challenges of running the local government, recently rejected an offer to become the chief executive of a city in Southern California.

In an interview, Bakaly says he and his family are happy living in Park City and want to stay. He says he sent an e-mail message to City Hall staffers early in the week describing the offer and his reasons for opting to stay in Park City.

"At the end of the day, after thinking through a lot of different variables and options, my wife and I came to the conclusion we like it here and want to stay," Bakaly says.

Bakaly says he received an offer to become the city manager in Palos Verdes Estates, a Los Angeles suburb with about 15,000 people. It is mainly a residential city.

He says his son’s godfather told him the city manager in Palos Verdes Estates was leaving and Bakaly applied. Bakaly says he was not hunting for a new job but the opportunity was of interest. He says he visited for one day about a month ago and interviewed with the City Council and mayor there.

Bakaly is from Southern California, his parents and his wife’s father live in the region — his family in Pasadena and his wife’s in Ventura County. He says living closer to them influenced him to pursue the Palos Verdes Estates job.

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"The reasons to look at that opportunity were really related to the family," he says.

Bakaly, who is 42 years old and lives in Park Meadows, took over City Hall in 2003, following the departure of longtime City Manager Toby Ross, who left for the same job in West Sacramento, Calif.

Before, Bakaly held increasingly influential positions at City Hall, starting as the finance manager, directing the budget and capital projects and serving as assistant city manager, then the No. 2 position in the local government. He beat out 121 others vying for the city manager post after Ross left.

In 2000, he accepted a high-level position in the Salt Lake City government but backed out of that job, the deputy director of Salt Lake’s Community and Economic Development Department. He was soon appointed the assistant city manager in Park City.

Bakaly is seen as a conservative and his background in government finances was key as he rose through City Hall’s ranks. During his city manager tenure, Park City has enjoyed a booming economy and Parkites, after more than a decade of bruising development battles, seem happy with the work of City Hall.

The government has been on an aggressive construction streak, including the China Bridge parking expansion and the Park City Ice Arena, and plans to build a town plaza. When he took over, meanwhile, Bakaly ousted several longtime staffers in a move that, he says, made City Hall more nimble and saved money.

Bakaly envisions Old Town’s future, making Park City safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, the emerging North of Main district and the potential of significant development at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort as major upcoming issues for City Hall. He also says he is interested in negotiating a deal to place an Air Force hotel locally, a long-running negotiation that has not been completed.

Bakaly says there is not tension between himself and Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council.

He is poised to earn about $130,700 annually in Park City, a slight raise from the year before. The salary range in Palos Verdes Estates is higher than in Park City but Bakaly says the pay was not a factor as he considered the California position.

"We want to stay here indefinitely. We’re not looking to leave anytime soon," he says.