Firms pitch plans to seek city manager

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:28 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three potential consultants to help Columbia hire a new city manager pitched their services to the Columbia City Council during a work session Monday night. The council may select a candidate during a work session tonight at 6 and plans to reach a final decision by the Aug. 1 council meeting.

Two of the consultants, Karl Nollenberger of the PAR Group and Jim Bragg of the Mercer Group, presented directly to the council. The council then turned off the air conditioning and sweated through a conference call with the other candidates, Jerry Oldani and Chris Hartung of Waters-Oldani Executive Recruiting.

All of the consultants interviewed by the council had been city managers themselves; all had about 20 years experience working for city government previous to their consulting careers; and all three firms have a nationwide recruiting network.

“We’re typically the usual suspects. Our processes are not that different,” Bragg said.

The three firms presented very similar plans to the council. Each consultant said they would begin by interviewing the council members and department heads individually to create a profile of the qualifications for a city manager.

The consultants would then use the profile to recruit candidates. Out of an expected 100 to 150 applicants, they would narrow the pool to less than 10 for the council to interview. The consultants would also conduct background checks and assist with the final selection. The three consultants said the process of hiring a city manager would take approximately three months.

In their interviews, the council members had several consistent questions for the candidates.

Sixth Ward Councilman Brian Ash asked each consultant to address the special challenges of replacing a city manager with a 20-year tenure in a city with a number of services.

“Is our situation unique in that we have a city manager who has been doing this 20 years, and we have a full-service city?” he asked the last candidate.

Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku asked each candidate how his company would help the city identify a reasonable salary for the city manager, and whether the company would be available after the selection to help the council to transition to a new manager.

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