Interim Oro Valley Town Manager Jerene Watson will work without a contract until the town fills the position permanently.

"I felt that there were many important issues and I wanted the council to focus on that," Watson said.

After the council could not resolve the issue of a pay increase or contract for Watson, she asked that the contract item be pulled from an Oct. 21 council agenda.  

She has agreed to fill in as manager with a 10 percent increase in pay as compensation for taking on the added responsibilities, under the agreement that she would return to assistant manager when a permanent replacement is hired.

Watson was appointed to serve as interim manager on Oct. 7, after the departure of former manager David Andrews.

The council has decided not to seek a permanent replacement for Andrews until next spring. In that case, the town likely would not fill the position until summer 2010.

Watson said she wants to work with the town council to address some issues that predicated Andrews' departure.

"The first thing is to steady the ship," Watson said.

Some council members had complained that Andrews was not giving equal time to all council members and that his communication had failed.

In an effort to give all elected officials a fair hearing, Watson instituted an equal time policy. She meets with three council members each week to guarantee they all have a chance to speak with Watson about town issues.

She also has started to send out a weekly e-mail to council members, updating them on the past week of town business.

Watson has also put in motion a plan to organize a town council retreat where members can discuss their goals for the year and resolve past differences.

"Like anyone else, when they have a disagreement they need to come together," Watson said.

Watson said the town has also begun to address other issues that have affected the town.

Last year's budget talks left many hurt feelings and lagging morale among town employees.

Department heads and other town employees have been undergoing ethics training and stress management classes. Others have been working on interpersonal communication and conflict management training.

"I think when people think their voices are heard, that helps," Watson said.

Overall, Watson said town staff has weathered the difficulties of the past year well.

"We do a lot of great things day-in and day-out," she said. "They're a good team, every employee."

Watson said she plans to help the council tackle other issues that face the town, such as the future of Central Arizona Project water delivery and land management.

Interim Town Manager Jerene Watson

Hometown: Phoenix

Age: 56

Married: 37 years

Children: Two (21, 27)

Education: B.A. business administration, University of Southern Mississippi; M.A. public administration, Old Dominion University

Work: U.S. Senate Commerce Committee; Omaha City Council; City of Phoenix; City of Goodyear

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