BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — A long-time city employee will temporarily guide the city electric company's day-to-day operations while the utility board searches for a new executive director.
Traverse City Light & Power board members officially named Tim Arends, TCLP controller and former assistant city treasurer, its interim executive director, with some restrictions. Arends cannot hire or fire anyone, nor enter into contracts without approval from either the board or Ben Bifoss, city manager for Traverse City.
Arends replaces Ed Rice, whom the board fired on Oct. 23.
There were some concerns Arends lacked technical knowledge to run the utility but the board liked Arends' service of more than two decades for the city and utility, said Patrick McGuire, TCLP board chairman.
"We are really looking to have a stable situation after last week and I don't think Tim wants to shake things up," McGuire said.
Board members Mike Coco and John Taylor will join McGuire on a committee to recommend a selection process and time line for hiring a permanent executive director. McGuire expects the committee to remain active throughout the hiring process.
Some board members criticized Rice for not adapting to the difference of working in the private sector as opposed to running a city-owned utility. He previously worked for Consumer's Energy.
Coco said that concern will factor into his selection decision.
"Speaking for myself, conducting business as a government body and engaging the public, absolutely that would be important," Coco said. "That doesn't rule somebody out that hasn't worked for a government utility, but that openness and community engagement has to absolutely be in their skill set."
The committee has not scheduled a meeting but hopes to meet within the next week.