Sharon Addison is no longer Watertown's city manager. She's departing city hall to work at the Fort Drum Military Base one month before her contract officially expires. The Watertown City Council opted not to renew her contract earlier this year over disagreements about how she's handled a years-long legal battle with the local firefighter union.
Addison's exit also comes about a week before the council has to pass a budget. In her budget proposal, Addison recommended a nearly 9 percent tax increase to balance it, but councilors are instead considering cutting positions to lower the hike. Addison says that and the council's decision to not renew her contract has left staff in city hall with low morale.
"Make no bones about it - government work is very difficult and the compensation and continuing to ask them to do more with less gets very old after awhile," Addison said. "So they have to be sensitive to the needs and resources that staff needs to do their jobs and do it well."
The council has appointed Bradford Minnick as interim city manager. Minnick, of Wellesley Island, is the owner of the Thousand Islands Inn in Clayton and has experience working for state and federal governments. He's one of 18 candidates for the city manager position. Minnick will serve in that position until a permanent replacement is selected.
But that may not happen. Watertown lawmakers have established a commission to review the city's charter, including whether to create a full-time mayor position that would absorb the the city manager's job. Addison says even now that she is not working for the city, she sees a "strong mayor" form of government as bringing more negatives than positives.
"It would be foolish for anyone to expect a mayor – even a full-time mayor – to do it all by himself or herself," Addison said. "There’s always that strong second in command who will be taking the day to day administration responsibilities."