COLUMBIA — At their meeting Monday, the Columbia City Council discussed and unanimously passed a contract to hire Affion Public to conduct a nationwide search for a city manager to replace Bill Watkins, who will retire in March.
THE FIRM: Affion Public is an executive search firm that specializes in identifying and placing candidates in managerial positions. They've conducted city manager searches in several U.S. cities, including Springfield, Mo., Austin, Texas and Broken Arrow, Okla.
COST: A contract lasting until March 31, 2011, will cost $20,000 plus $6,000 in expenses.
TIMETABLE: There is an understanding between the council and Affion Public that the search must be finished by the end of February 2011 because Watkins is set to leave the position in March.
Affion Public will start the process by meeting with the council and city department heads and creating candidate and position profiles. The firm will consider holding public hearings. It will conclude the recruitment process within 65 days, then choose finalists to present to the City Council. From there, a process of narrowing down candidate pools and conducting intensive background checks will commence.
Affion Public is prepared to have a candidate selected for hire within 90 days.
COUNCIL COMMENTS: Watkins introduced the topic by telling the public in attendance that Affion Public had presented to the council last week and a contract with them was most plausible to put on the meeting agenda. He also said the budget for the contract is in the city manager budget.
"I must say that after doing these interviews, I'm extremely confident with Affion Public," said Paul Sturtz, First Ward Councilman. He said the firm will "cast a wider net" over the U.S. during the search.
"We all learned a lot (from the interviews)," Mayor Bob McDavid said. "I'm extremely pleased with this choice."
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe agreed and added that she thought it will be "well worth the money."