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Residency not required for city manager
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Covington city council members discussed changing the language of a recruitment firm's brochure for hiring a new city manager at a special called meeting on Monday night.

The council highlighted several changes they wanted to make to a brochure from The Mercer Group, a firm out of Atlanta they hired to conduct a search for the city's next city manager.

One of the changes in the brochure that council members disagreed on was requiring the new city manager to live in Covington.

The council voted 3 to 2 on changing the language in the brochure that said the new city manager should live in the city. Council members Janet Goodman and Chris Smith voted no on not changing the requirement. Councilman Mike Whatley did not attend the meeting.
Councilman Keith Dalton said he didn't think the new city manager should have to live in Covington. He said what if a candidate had a special needs child who needed to attend school in another county such as Athens. He said that candidate might not apply to the position because of the requirement.

"We have some people who work in factories here who come from as far away as Alabama now and they come here and work everyday," Dalton said. "I want to get the best candidate period."

Mayor Ronnie Johnston said he didn't think the language for requiring a city manager to live in Covington needed to be changed because it was optional and not a requirement.

"I personally kind of like the way that it was worded because it stresses the fact that we would like you to," Johnston said. "It says we would prefer."

Smith and Goodman agreed with Johnston saying it wasn't a requirement but it was something the city would prefer.

"I would hope that they would want to live in the community, but we can't make them though," Smith said.

According to The Mercer Group's 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 recruitment process is expected to take about six weeks and will cost $15,000 plus any additional out-of-pocket fees not to exceed $4,500.

Councilman Smith said he had concerns with the timeline of the recruitment process.

"My biggest concern is the time frame on follow up phone calls from Sept. 13 to Oct. 29," Smith said. "Six weeks seems to be a long time to be accepting applications."

Smith suggested to council that they move the recruitment process up by two weeks and end it on Oct. 15 so that council could have a full month to recruit. But councilwoman Hawnethia Williams and other council members disagreed with changing the dates.

"We're paying him too much to speculate on what should or shouldn't be," Williams said. "He's an expert in doing what he does."

Johnston said the council will review the top 12 to 15 candidates during the first week in November and will name the top 5 candidates during the first week of December.