New city manager takes over as of August 1
Tue, 08/09/2022 - 2:38pm caleb
Erich Podjaske begins tenure as interim city manager following Doug Baum’s retirement
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Erich Podjaske started in his new role as interim city manager for the City of Grayling on August 1 and he is looking forward to continuing his work with regard to economic development.
Podjaske said he began working for the City of Grayling in January of 2013 as director of zoning, the cemetery, and income taxes. In 2014, city officials had Podjaske move out of the income tax role and into economic development while maintaining duties with zoning and the cemetery.
“I loved it,” Podjaske said of his previous role with the City of Grayling.
Podjaske said he specifically enjoyed the “economic development” aspect of it and – as city manager – he plans to continue working to help businesses thrive.
“You’re helping the businesses, helping the community grow. It’s nice to be a part of something to keep people here and giving families something to do. I just enjoy it,” Podjaske said.
Doug Baum, the previous city manager, retired at the end of July. Baum said he had intended to work for three or four more years, but he chose to retire a little bit earlier than planned because of health reasons.
On Monday, June 27, the Grayling City Council discussed the possibility of having Podjaske serve as interim city manager as Baum prepared to retire. According to approved minutes for the June 27 meeting, council members said “continuity was important” and “appointing Erich Podjaske as the interim city manager position for eight months would give him enough time to see if it was what he wanted to do and get him through (the) budgeting cycle.”
During a regular meeting on Monday, July 11, the council discussed details of the contract, according to approved minutes, and the contract was signed on July 18 following a special meeting of the council, city officials said.
“It wasn’t the original plan,” Podjaske said. “It wasn’t supposed to happen this fast. Still some things to learn, but luckily Doug – for the last five years – has been teaching me. Luckily, he started that process early.”
Podjaske said he learned a lot from Doug through training, meetings, and budget work.
“The biggest challenge for me is I’m a people pleaser, so trying to find that balance. Doug was always the one to make the tough decisions, so now that’ll fall to me,” Podjaske said.
Podjaske said the city has made a lot of progress and will continue efforts to make improvements.
“I feel like the city is moving in such a positive direction. Everybody has been working together so cohesively, getting projects done. There’s more collaboration than there ever was, not just with the city but the county and the townships. I really hope that continues,” Podjaske said.