The city of Stanwood is rolling out major changes to its staffing structure designed to offer more flexibility.

The City Council on Thursday approved the plan and organizational structure, adopting recommendations of a workforce assessment study by FCS Group.

The study looked at the city’s organizational structure, hierarchy and functions. The consultants offered a plan that reorganizes the hierarchy and redefines positions. The city can transfer some employees to fill positions and hire new employees for others. 

“The new staffing matrix gives the city flexibility to activate or inactivate positions as needed to deliver the expected, enhanced levels of service,” City Administrator Jennifer Ferguson said.

Positions can be left unfilled or inactive, depending on the service levels needed. The levels and priorities were part of the information gathered in a community survey late last year.

The FCS study proposes several nonunion staffing positions in 2020, including a human resource manager. The revised staffing plan proposes the following positions and transfers:

  • Assistant to the administrator: Krista Hintz would transfer from the Community Development Department, where she’s an administrative assistant.
  • Financial manager: Wendy Corder-Dowhower would serve as an interim financial manager. Her current position of senior accountant would remain unfilled. The current financial director position would be inactive for now.
  • Public Works superintendent: The plan calls for a Public Works superintendent, responsible for planning, organizing and supervising the Public Works divisions.
  • City engineer/capital project manager: Shawn Smith will be transferred to a new position that prioritizes capital improvement projects, plan reviews and inspections. He’s currently the assistant Public Works director and city engineer. He’d continue to serve as a registered civil engineer and step in as public works director as needed.
  • Engineering technician — field inspections: This position is proposed to be filled in the fall. It reclassifies the currently vacant construction inspector role and adds responsibilities.

Traffic plans change

The council on Thursday also approved changes for work on Viking Way, drainage designs for 101st Avenue NW and a roadmap for the next six years of transportation projects. 

The two changes to the Viking Way project include adding $65,567 for materials better suited for the floodplain that will increase the life of the roadway and a five-day delay in construction of $40,000 for SRV Construction’s contracted payroll because utilities had to be rerouted.

City Engineer Shawn Smith said once they began digging, they found surprises.

Waterlines weren’t where they thought they’d be. Gas lines and fiber optics lines were too shallow. Water, sewer, storm drains, cable power and gas were in the way.

Crews completed the work before the change order was approved so the city didn’t incur more delay expenses.

“It’s a tough spot for staff working with these contractors knowing a one-day delay is $8,000,” Smith said.

Even with the two change orders, “it’s still coming in significantly under budget at this point,” he said.

The original contract was $2.4 million, but costs have reached $2.5 million. That's still less than the nearly $3 million the city budgeted for the project.

The project has paved up to 90th Avenue. The barricade is removed, and cars can drive west through the adjacent parking lot to 92nd Avenue, though construction still continues in the area. The next phase will add improvements to 90th Avenue and connect to 271st Street NW.

Council members also approved the Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan for 2021-2026, which prioritizes city projects and identifies how to pay for the work. The list includes overlays and sidewalks around town and entries to the future Hamilton and Ovenell parks.

The plan includes Viking Way Phase 2, which straightens the west end of the road and aligns it with the driveway to the QFC parking lot, which could be constructed in the next few years.

Council members said they were pleased to see that traffic-calming measures will be made at the intersection of 80th Avenue and 284th Street. Plans also call for 80th Avenue to be widened in the area being developed.

Councilman Sid Roberts said he’d like to see stop signs go up in the interim.

“Stop signs are pretty cheap,” he said. “I’d like something to be done before there’s a serious accident.”

Mayor Leonard Kelley said he spoke with a property owner to trim shrubs that limit the view.

The council also approved a contract of up to $309,980 with The Blueline Group to design drainage and sidewalk improvements to 101st Avenue NW.

Currently, this street and adjacent properties have significant standing water during wet months. Pedestrians, including Stanwood Elementary School students, walk in the street, due to sporadic sidewalk sections.

The project would create sidewalks on both sides, improve the drainage system and build a new walkway along 273rd Place NW so children can walk safely from the Josephine’s Caring Community child care facility to Stanwood Elementary.

City starts reopening measures

The mayor urged people to wear masks.

“My sentiment is that we need to wear masks for our businesses so we can get to Phase 3. We want people to feel safe so they’ll go out and support our businesses," he said. "We’ve had bands cancel because they don’t feel safe. Practice safe social distances and wear a mask and support each other. We’re doing what’s best for our community.”

Ferguson added that the city is offering business recovery grants of up to $10,000. Applications are at, and the deadline to apply is today, June 23.

The city is working on a Safe Start campaign and putting together resources for businesses, such as where they can find protective masks and sanitizer, and help them comply with rules when it’s time to open, City Administrator Jennifer Ferguson said.

Stanwood City Hall is getting prepped for Phase 3. Staff is cleaning thoroughly and putting up signs to remind people to wear masks and keep social distance.

New flower baskets have been hung throughout the city streets thanks to Stanwood High School horticultural students. The students started growing the baskets before the school closure and have watered and tended to them regularly.

Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at or 360-416-2189.

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