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Officials search for city manager
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City of Covington council members made a decision on a search firm to help the city locate and hire a new city manager at a called meeting Monday night.

The council voted 5-0 for The Mercer Group, Inc. of Atlanta to serve as the firm to assist the city in their search. The decision comes as City Manager Steve Horton will retire on Dec. 21.

The council listened to presentations from The Mercer Group, Slavin Management Consultants and Weston House International. Another firm, Resource Management Acquisition, did not attend the meeting.

Each firm took about 20 minutes to present to the council why they were the best firm for the city. The council then asked the firms questions about their company and their executive search process. The council took a five minute recess after the presentations and then went into a brief discussion about which firm would work with the city.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams told the council she really liked the presentations from Mercer Group and Slavin Management.

"I'm impressed with the first two very much so," Williams said.

Councilman Keith Dalton agreed with Williams and soon made a motion.

"We've had a lot of information to look through and look over. Some of us I know have made phone calls," Dalton said. Based on the presentations and all of the information we had before we got here I would like to make a motion that we go with The Mercer Group."
Williams second Dalton's motion. Council member Mike Whatley and Mayor Ronnie Johnston were not present at the meeting.

Jim Mercer, president and CEO of The Mercer Group, Inc. told council he had 38 years of executive search experience and has personally conducted 2,000 executive searches. He said he was an assistant city manager in Raleigh, North Carolina in the early 1970's before he got into the consulting business.

Mercer said his firm has 21 offices around the United States and a staff of 31 trained professionals. He told council that he would primarily be the main person assisting with the executive search and he was flexible in learning exactly what the city of Covington wanted in their next city manager.

"What I'd want to do is spend quite a bit of time with you up front and get to know you and then see if we need to kind of adjust our approach to meet your needs better," Mercer said. " [We want to] be sure we understand what are some of those things that you're facing and will face in the next few years, which is going to have some barring on the type of person you may need."

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 was originally $16,500 and up to an additional $8,000 for any out-of-pocket expenses. But Mercer said because of the current state of the economy, the cost of the search would be $15,000 plus an additional out-of-pocket fee not to exceed $4,500.

Slavin Management Consultants president Bob Slavin represented his company. Slavin said his company was located in Norcross and started in 1997. He said he his company has conducted mostly governmental searches and he has personally conducted over 750 executive searches.
According to the Slavin Management Consultants proposal, the cost of their executive search would be $13,865. The company would also charge out-of-pocket fees, which would not exceed $6,932.50. Slavin also explained to council that an additional $2,000 and $700 would be charged for advertising and phones.

A representative with the Weston House International said his company was local and has been in business for four years. He said the company has mostly conducted searches for presidents of colleges and academic advisors. The representative said his company has not hired a city manager before, but he personally had 8 years of experience in consulting.