Dozens apply for job as assistant city manager

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:30 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

More than 81 people from inside and outside Columbia city government have applied to fill the assistant city manager position left vacant by the promotion of Bill Watkins to city manager.

The application period closed at 5 p.m. Monday. Watkins said he hopes to select the final candidate by late February.

Until then, Watkins said he will continue to share his old workload with Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins and other departments.

“We’re looking for people who can transition into the role easily and quickly and someone that we can replace if it’s a city position,” Watkins said.

The job will pay between $71,508 and $97,604 per year. Whoever is hired, Watkins said, will be given time to get up to speed on his or her responsibilities, including the day-to-day coordination of public works and programs.

However, he said the position’s responsibilities will be finalized after the position is filled.

“You don’t throw someone into an $18 million road project without any background,” Watkins said. “Even if it’s somebody inside the organization, it would take a couple months to get up to speed.”

The city budget calls for two assistant city managers acting together beneath the city manager. Hertwig-Hopkins has been the lone assistant since Watkins assumed his new role on Jan. 7.

“My workload started to change when Bill became the acting city planning director,” Hertwig-Hopkins said, referring to Watkins’ stopgap role after the 2004 resignation of Roy Dudark. “He has asked me to take on some of the projects and committees he was handling as an assistant, so I envision that continuing.”

Watkins, along with a panel of people inside and outside local government, will make a selection after all of the finalists are interviewed.

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