City Council names Matthes as new city manager

Mike Matthes replaces retiring city manager Bill Watkins.
Mike Matthes meets with Columbia residents and City Council members during a meet-and-greet with the candidates for city manager on Friday at City Hall. Matthes was named city manager at Monday's City Council meeting.

Mayor Bob McDavid named Mike Matthes as the new city manager prior to the Columbia City Council meeting Monday. Council members also approved funding for another downtown parking garage.

After a three-day process of interviews with the four candidates for city manager, McDavid said the council decided on the Des Moines candidate for his communication and vision.

“I thought he was able to articulate his management style very clearly,” McDavid said. “He's very performance driven.”

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe agreed with the decision and said council members had a great pool of applicants to choose from thanks to Affion Public, the firm responsible for searching for candidates.

“All the candidates impressed me, and I think the other council members, that they were extremely ethical and extremely transparent,” Hoppe said.

First Ward candidate Fred Schmidt and Fifth Ward candidate Helen Anthony attended the event for the public to meet the candidates Friday night.

“One thing that I think that's important is the high staff turnover,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said it is important the new city manager understands and strives to maintain the quality of city services to retain the institutional culture and memory. He was also concerned about the city’s budget.

Anthony said she was very impressed with the picks for city manager. She didn't say whether she was pulling for one candidate over another.“Just having this brief moment to meet them they all seem to be very articulate and open,” Anthony said Friday. “I love the fact that they are communicators; I hope that whoever we have is an excellent communicator."Anthony said she wants the new city manager to bring outside perspectives into the city.

As part of the city vision for downtown, council members approved another parking garage other than the one which opened March 1. The new parking structure is mainly in response to the demand for the new hotel on Short Street and Broadway and as part of the development of the North Village Arts District.

The approved land acquisition is for $1.25 million complete with contingencies for the city to opt out of the agreement. McDavid said there will be a rise in parking rates in order to pay for the new parking garage.“If this passes I will be forming a parking task force,” McDavid said.

Dianne Lynch of Stephens College spoke with regard to the recent housing development approved by council last month and the big picture of the North Village Arts District development. Stephens College officially supports the parking garage.

“We are deeply concerned about the density, about the traffic and about the parking,” Lynch said. “A critical piece of that picture is parking. The other piece of this is that there is a critical demand for parking at Stephens.”

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