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Posted: July 31, 2012 7:51 p.m.

City council discusses hiring city manager

The city of Covington Council discussed what steps they should take to hire their next city manager at a called meeting on Monday night.

City Manager Steve Horton announced on July 17 that he would officially retire from the city on December 21, leaving the council to decide on who will fill his position.

During the meeting, council talked about hiring a company to help them with their executive search and the possibility of changing the job description for the open position.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston said two out of the three companies he requested proposals from have sent in information about the search services they offer.

Johnston handed out copies of proposals from The Mercer Group, Inc. and Slavin Management Consultants.

The council looked at both proposals and then discussed when would be the best time to set up interviews with each company.

According to The Mercer Group, Inc. proposal, the company would select potential candidates by doing a position analysis, advertising campaign, resume review, candidate screening, background investigation, interview and a negotiation and follow-up with the candidate.

The cost of the company's services is $15,000 and up to an additional $8,000 for any out-of-pocket expenses.

Slavin Management Consultants quoted the council a lower price in their proposal at $13,865. The company would also charge out-of-pocket fees, which would not exceed $6,932.50.

In the Slavin Management Consultants proposal, the company would develop a position profile, prepare advertising, identify and recruit candidates and acknowledge resumes, conduct a preliminary screening, submit a progress report to council and reduce the candidate pool, conduct an in-depth candidate evaluation, set up and attend final interviews, and complete a list of other additional steps in selecting the candidate.

The council tentatively scheduled to hear from both companies on Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. if their schedules permitted.
When talking about the job description for the city manager, council members said they wanted to add additional criteria. Council woman Hawnethia Williams said she thought it would also be ideal to find out who the candidates were personally. She said she would hope the council considered a person of integrity and character.

"We need to find out about this person for not just what's written there, but we need to find out from other people what kind of man or woman this person is," Williams said.

Johnston agreed with Williams on having someone of good character take over the city manager position.

"We want someone that'll represent us well and have strong character because they're certainly going to be stepping into a job and leading about 300 people that work for the City of Covington. So it's a big, big deal," Johnston said.
Council agreed that they would start with the original job description and then look into adding more criteria if it were necessary.

Johnston said he needed full commitment from council in the next couple of months as they went through the process of hiring a new city manager. He said the decision was one of the biggest council had to make and he wanted it to be the right one.

"This is going to take quite a bit of time. This is the one position that the council does hire. It's a critical position for the whole city," Johnson said. " We've got to put the best interest of this city forward and make the best decision we possibly can."

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