Tom Bakaly, city manager since 2003, leaving for Southern California | ParkRecord.com

Tom Bakaly, city manager since 2003, leaving for Southern California

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Park City Manager Tom Bakaly, who rose to become City Hall’s top staffer in unprecedented fashion, will leave the Marsac Building later this summer for a municipal position in Southern California.

Bakaly this week was named the city manager in Hermosa Beach, Calif., a seaside community just south of Los Angeles. The City Council there is scheduled to vote on an employment contract on Tuesday.

Bakaly is a California native who once worked in city government in that state. His parents and his wife’s father live in Southern California. He remains vested in California’s public-employee retirement system from a post he held in the Pasadena municipal government early in his career.

The position in Hermosa Beach starts in early September. Bakaly has not set a departure date from the Marsac Building. Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council have not named someone to serve as the city manager on an interim basis and details have not been released about a recruitment to hire a successor.

"I think I’ve helped lead the city through an economic downturn as well as building on what was started leading up to the Olympics," Bakaly said.

Bakaly, 48, has been the city manager since 2003 after serving in the position on an interim basis following the departure of his predecessor, Toby Ross, in 2002. Bakaly was hired as City Hall’s finance manager in 1995 and climbed to become the director of capital management and budget and then assistant city manager. The latter two positions were added to the municipal government ‘s hierarchy as Bakaly’s career advanced.

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Bakaly said City Hall has been "well balanced" under his leadership and credited staffers for their important role in the city’s successes during his tenure as city manager. He mentioned construction projects like the Old Town transit center, the Park Avenue police station and the renovation of the Racquet Club into the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center as key achievements while he was working for the Marsac Building. He also noted street improvements completed in the post-2002 Winter Olympic era.

Bakaly, a fiscal conservative, held the city manager position during an extraordinary nine years that saw a boom era after the Olympics give way to the recession. His financial acumen was seen as being critical as City Hall navigated the downturn. City Hall did not suffer like other municipal governments during the recession.

"He was able to buffer the city in such a way during the recession we were able to continue a high level of service," Williams said.

The mayor also praised Bakaly’s role in high-profile City Hall negotiations with Quinn’s Junction developers, Sundance Film Festival organizers, state legislators and Congress.

The Hermosa Beach mayor, Jeff Duclos, said Bakaly will succeed a city manager who served 18 years in the position. Duclos said Bakaly was selected from a field of more than 75 candidates qualified for the position. He said Bakaly’s interview with city leaders was especially impressive and he noted the resort community similarities between Hermosa Beach and Park City.

"He really got it, really had a sense of our city in a very short time," Duclos said.

Duclos said Bakaly’s early assignments will include hiring a police chief, negotiating a collective-bargaining agreement with municipal employees and handling Pacific Ocean oil reserves. He said the decision about the oil reserves — whether to tap the reserves through drilling — could be put to voters.

Bakaly, during his Park City career, at least twice considered leaving for government jobs in other cities. He rejected an offer in 2007 to become the city manager in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb. Seven years before that, Bakaly was tapped for a high-level position in the Salt Lake City government. He accepted the Salt Lake City post but changed his mind a few days later.