TODAY'S QUESTION: What should Columbia look for in a new city manager?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | 1:55 p.m. CDT

City Manager Bill Watkins announced his plans for retirement at a news conference Tuesday morning, citing personal reasons for the decision. He has served as city manager for five years.

Now the City Council must go through the hiring process to find a new city manager. According to Laura Nauser, Fifth Ward councilwoman, the council plans on hiring a private agency to search nationwide for a new city manager. After the agency gathers an adequate pool of applicants, the council will begin interviewing.

When Watkins took over five years ago, he was the heir-apparent. His prior experience included seven years as city manager of Newton Falls, Ohio, and 11 years as assistant city manager in Columbia.

According to Columbia city charter — which outlines the selection of city manager and the position's duties — the city manager must act as a bridge of communication between the city council and other city departments, which according to Nauser, Watkins has done an exceptional job with. The city manager must also prepare and submit the city budget to city council.

Watkins has also been a proponent of the city's economic development. He was instrumental in bringing IBM to Columbia and has traditionally advocated business expansion.

What do you think Columbia should look for in a new city manager? Should the next city manager continue in Watkins' legacy?

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