Once a list of top candidates — Montgomery's process suggested 10 — is established, it would be handed over to a citizens committee to rank the candidates, with the top three asked to participate in the second component of the benchmarking assessment and interviews. If the timeline, which also includes a background check and contract negotiations, is followed exactly, the next city manager would be working by Feb. 29.
The commission directed staff to contact both Angel Group and Mercer Group to see if they would be willing to revise their proposals to take into account KLC’s benchmarking process as well as the committee’s involvement. KLC also will be asked to submit a proposal.
The cost for the process is still uncertain because it is not known what the firms will charge for a modified version of their services that doesn't include initiating the search and producing a candidate for hire. Each company quoted total costs, including out-of-pocket expenses, for the entire process of about $20,000.
A revised budget prepared by Interim City Manager Ron Scott estimated the cost of conducting the search completely in-house at between about $15,000 and $17,000.
Neither of the projections include what is expected to be about $3,000 for the KLC benchmarking service. That price will depend on how many of the finalists undergo an online evaluation costing $350 per candidate.
Montgomery said he has heard an outpouring of support recently for expeditiously retaining a search firm to conduct the entire process and hiring the new city manager, but he understands there are many who want public input as well. He believes, based on their proposals, either Angel or Mercer will be open to providing a modified version of service focusing primarily on the advertising and narrowing the list.
Commissioner J.H. Atkins, who has also been critical of how long it has taken to begin the search, has advocated for a large and diverse group of city residents with wide discretion to deliberate and chose a final list of candidates to handle most of the process. Monday, he lamented the fact the commission had previously voted on a five-step process he supported that would have had the committee review all applicants.
Montgomery said he is confident an in-house search would yield a quality city manager should neither of the search firms or KLC agree to participate.
Later Monday, the commission selected both the group of subject matter experts who will participate in the benchmarking process beginning next week and the nine-person citizens committee who will consider the list of finalists.
- Benchmarking committee: Commissioner Kevin Caudill, Mayor Bernie Hunstad, City Engineer Earl Coffey, City Clerk Donna Peek, Assistant Police Chief Tony Gray, George Cunningham and the Rev. William Jenkins.
- Citizens committee: Lynn Tye, Wilma Brown, Denise Lister, Mary Stith Hamlin, A. Jack May, Kerry Kinley and David Longenecker. Alternates are Vi Wilmot and Angela Johnson. Commissioners Gail Louis and J.H. Atkins also will serve.