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New Bremerty city attorney Lubovich is coming home

Why would a city attorney from a “big city” like Kent take a pay cut to work in Bremerton?

’Cause he’s homesick, that’s why. At least that’s what he said. Plus, he added, the pay package he got from Bremerton was pretty darn good — at $103,716 annually.

His pay at Kent was $108,000, according to Kathleen McCluskey, administrative services director. Former City Attorney Glenna Malanca received $90,871.

Roger Lubovich is now the highest paid employee in the city. Former Mayor Lynn Horton got $78,000 per year. New Mayor Cary Bozeman will get $80,777. Next to Lubovich, the two next highest paid city employees are Police Chief Rob Forbes, $93,960; and director of public works, Gene Sampley, also $93,960.

Why is Lubovich the highest paid?

“We did some research into current pay scales for comparable cities,” said McCluskey. “We didn’t want anyone without municipal experience. We didn’t want Bremerton to be his training ground. As it is, he took a cut in pay. He’s at the top of our (pay scale). The city felt he had the experience and qualifications we were looking for.... You get what you pay for.”

She said the city has a lot of major projects in the works that need top legal expertise.

Lubovich is a Kitsap County resident who was born and raised — and still lives — on Bainbridge Island. For more than a decade he has served as the city attorney in Kent — a four-hour commute.

“I worked there for 11 years,” he said. “I needed a change. I wanted to work in the same county where I lived.”

Lubovich said the commute was a pain. Now it takes him about a half hour to get to work — and it’s a nice drive.

Plus he sees nothing but promise in Bremerton, he said.

Lubovich graduated from Bainbridge Island High School in 1970, and from Olympic College in 1972 with an associate of arts degree in business administration. He went on to get a bachelor’s in business, marketing and finance from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1974.

He earned an MBA in international finance from Seattle University in 1976 and a juris doctor degree at the Seattle University law school in 1978. Lubovich is a member of the bar in both Washington and Alaska, and is licensed to practiced before the U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court, Western Washington District and the U.S. District Court of Alaska.

In his position at Kent, Lubovich supervised a staff of 20 people and a budget of $1.1 million.

Lubovich will replace Loren Combs, who has been acting city attorney for several months. Combs is also the city attorney for Port Orchard. He replaced Glenna Malanca, who left last year after a four-month battle over her employment status between then-mayor Horton and the Council.

In Lubovich’s letter of application to the city of Bremerton, he said at Kent he developed an “open door policy” between the legal department and other city departments.

“This ‘pro-active’ approach to legal representation has minimized claims against the city and the resulting costs of litigation,” Lubovich said. “I am particularly skilled in negotiating and coordinating complex transactions, packaging closings, as well as problem solving and dispute resolution.”

He said he looks forward to the city getting $6.9 million from the Public Facilities District so the city can attract a private developer and put together a hotel/conference center/parking complex on the waterfront.

“That’s really my forte,” he said. “Private/public projects.”

He said he also looks forward to helping the city with code enforcement issues.

Although he’ll be in and out of City Hall, his first official day is Jan. 24. He was hired through a unanimous vote of the Council Jan 2. Newly elected Council member Glenn Jarstad was ill and did not attend the meeting.

— Editor John R. Olson contributed

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