Manager search starts

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2015

City Council on Wednesday strongly supported using the city’s own personnel to conduct the search for a new city manager — with one notable exception.

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett would have preferred to hire a consulting firm to help with the search, but he was overruled by his seven colleagues.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Human Resources Director Nancy Olivo presented the two options to the council members. The consulting firm, at an approximate cost of $30,000, would create a profile of the ideal candidate, advertise the position, assist in the interview process, recommend candidates and help with final negotiations, Olivo said.

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However, her staff could do all of that at a minimal cost — mostly just advertising fees, she said.

“I strongly support what we have in-house,” Councilman Curtis Milteer said. “We don’t need to spend $25,000 or $30,000 to bring in people when we have people in-house that can do the same job.”

He was echoed by most of his colleagues, but Bennett took exception to the prevailing opinion.

Bennett believes it would be better to “get an outside person that does not have any involvement at all,” he said. The human resources director assisting with the search for her future boss — especially when her current boss could be one of the candidates — might get awkward, he noted.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said she supports an in-house search because an agency doesn’t know the city.

“They don’t know the things they need to know to have a good match,” she said.

Council members said they want to know about all of the candidates, without a screening process before it gets to them.

“I want to make sure we see all the applications, not anything being screened — good, bad — so we see the full spectrum,” Councilman Don Goldberg said.

Public input will be a major part of the process. Councilman Mike Duman said he wants to see a survey similar to the one the Economic Development department recently created to gather public input on what kinds of businesses they want to see at the Obici Place site.

Public forums also are proposed.

“I would like to see the feedback from the public,” Councilman Roger Fawcett said. “I’m very interested in what the public has to say.”

Councilman Tim Johnson agreed, asking Olivo if she was “prepared to deal with 80,000-plus consultants.”

The search became necessary after former city manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn tendered her resignation on April 15 and left a month later for the same job in Richmond. The deputy city manager, Patrick Roberts, is the interim city manager.

City Council members praised Roberts during Wednesday’s meeting.

“We have a person that can do the job,” Milteer said. “Is it necessary to have a search?”

“We haven’t missed a beat here since we started this process,” Fawcett said, referring to Roberts’ performance. “I would look at him as much as I would anybody that was in that packet.”

Councilman Lue Ward agreed. “So far, he’s doing quite well,” he said. “Let’s see how far he can take us.”