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Peterson: Hiring a city manager is one of the most important decisions a City Council can make.

With Wood Village City Manager Bill Peterson moving into full-time retirement this November, city councilors have begun the task of finding his replacement.

Councilors voted unanimously during their meeting on Tuesday, April 10, directing staff to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit a recruitment firm that will find the city's next manager.

Peterson emphasized hiring a city manager is one of the most important decisions a City Council can make.

"You make two employment decisions that really shape your community: One is the manager, and the other is your attorney," Peterson said. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Bill Peterson , Gresham Outlook - News Bill Peterson to continue on part-time basis for square-mile city until fall, 2019  Wood Village renews city manager contract

Peterson was hired by Wood Village in 2011 as the city's full-time manager. In 2017, he retired from his position, but continued to work for Wood Village on a half-time basis. Greg Dirks, Wood Village's human resources and records manager, has been filling in with city management duties when Peterson is absent.

The key questions for councilors to ask when seeking a recruitment firm are how broad of scope the search should be, Peterson said, and how much should the community and city staff be involved in the process.

Typical costs to hire a recruiter run between $25,000 and $38,000. The city proposed allocating $40,000 in Wood Village's upcoming budget for recruitment efforts.

Another option includes doing the recruiting effort internally for a lower price tag.

All councilors voiced support for hiring a professional to conduct the search.

Mayor Scott Harden supported a national recruiting effort.

"We have an expectation for the person we want to get. It goes beyond their years of experience, and their background check, and I don't think that the quality of person we're necessarily looking for responds to some of the ads on the League of Oregon cities website that I've seen," Harden said.

Councilor John Miner agreed they would benefit from hiring a recruiter, but disagreed with conducting a full nationwide search as long as a regional search includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

"I think we'll find candidates who will see Wood Village as a great place to come," Miner said.

Councilor Bruce Nissen said hiring a recruitment firm will let the city focus on other pressing issues such as selling Wood Village's City Hall, and constructing a new building elsewhere in the town.

"We're going to have our hands full with City Hall," Nissen said. "Let alone having to add this to our plate or staff's plate. It may cost us a few more dollars, but it will be the better way to go."

Peterson wrote a timeline detailing what it will take to have a new manager ready by his retirement date. The first step was approving the RFP. He advised council to not act too hastily, and to deal with any challenges that come up during the recruitment carefully.

"Please don't hurry the process — if this takes longer, take longer," Peterson said. "If you need another six months from me, you'll get another six months from me. Take the time it takes to make this happen right."

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