“We need a city manager yesterday,” Councilwoman Dot Wood said. “We don’t even have a city clerk.”
In October 2011, the council unanimously approved an ordinance creating the city manager’s position, and set aside $100,000 in the 2012 fiscal year budget to pay for the position.
Because the council created the position, it lowered the mayor’s salary, beginning the first Monday in November 2012. The council also repealed the mayor’s salary as the full-time superintendent of the Water and Sewer Systems.
The newly elected mayor will only make $15,000 a year, even though the city may not have a full-time city manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city.
Councilman Greg Gossett said with or without a city manager, the new mayor is going to have his or her hands full.
“The mayor has to run the city until a city manager is in place,” Gossett said.
He said it has been more than a month since the council has discussed the city manager position.
Gossett said he would like to have a city clerk in place before the next administration takes over.
“At this point, I really would rather let the next administration pick the new city manager,” Gossett said. “They are the ones working with him or her.”
Wood said there’s little the council can do, and it is up to Mayor Bill Hereford to move the hiring process forward.
“The mayor is dragging his feet on this,” she said.
Hereford said they have gone though more than 40 applications for the city manager’s job.
“It’s a slow process,” he said. “We want to make sure we make the right choice.”
Hereford said it is possible the council could hire a city manager within the next two months, before people begin qualifying for city offices, including mayor.
In January, the mayor and members of the council interviewed possible candidates for the city manager position. City officials have not said anything since except the mayor had promised the council he would move forward with the search after council members voiced concerns about how slow the process was moving.
Councilman James McGowan said the council could still hire a city manager before qualifying begins July 3.
“I’m hoping that we have someone in place by the qualifying date,” McGowan said. “But my concern is getting the right person in the position.”
He said if the City Council does not hire a city manager before candidates begin qualifying for municipal offices, it could limit the number of people who would consider running for the office of mayor.
He said if a city manager is not hired, the newly elected mayor is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city.
“Sure, there are going to be some people who run,” McGowan said. “But you aren’t going to find someone willing to put in all that work for $15,000 (a year), unless they are retired and don’t have anything else to do.”
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.