Newberg may hire national firm in search for the next city manager
The city of Newberg may look to a national firm to find its new city manager, depending on the wishes of the city council.
City Manager Joe Hannan, who announced last week he intends to retire in September, said a representative from the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments (COG) recently laid out a path for the council to select his replacement. Hannan's three-year contract with the city ends this summer, but he has offered to stay on until the fall to help find a replacement.
Hannan said the city has a number of options. The first is to find an interim replacement to keep city business going on while a larger search occurs. This can either be someone from the outside the current administration, such as a local former city manager, or an internal department head. Hannan said the COG representative told the council there are probably three or four nearby candidates, either past managers or finance managers, who "could give the council time to deliberate and find the right person they want."
As for promoting an internal candidate on an interim basis, he said the trouble with that route is what happens to that person's daily duties while they are filling the city manager's shoes. He also said a risk with an internal interim candidate is that they may scare away other individuals from applying for the position, as they may assume the internal candidate has a leg up on the job.
"While that's going on, the City Council needs to decide what they are looking for in a new city manager," he said.
Hannan added that a councilor will need to take the lead in this process, but others will be involved as well. After that, the council will have to decide what kind of campaign to run. They could use an in-house effort, as they did to find the city's new library director, or pay a national firm to come in and recruit candidates.
"I would guess this would be a national search," Hannan said, although he added that for an administrative position in an area like Newberg, the pool of applicants would likely be made up of candidates from Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho.
"California, we're kind of out of their price range," he said of the kind of salary the city could provide.
He added that once all that is figured out, the city will likely stage a one- to two-month advertising campaign. Once applications start coming in, they'll start screening candidates and sending out questionnaires.
At some point, the city will invite some of the preferred candidates to the city to go through interviews with the council, with city staff, and with local business leaders.
"You also typically have an open house where people can comment and they can pass the comments back," Hannan said.
He added that what may happen after that, is a few council members may travel to the cities where the city manager finalists are from to do a fact finding search and interview process. After that, the council decides on a finalist and makes an offer.
Hannan said the trouble with recruiting is that the most qualified candidates are usually competing for several jobs at once.
"It's not unusual for someone you like to be competing and get a better offer from someone else," he said.
Hannan said the process could take four to six months to find his replacement, especially depending on how many qualified candidates are from in state or out of state. In the meantime, Hannan said he's gathering materials for his replacement to know what projects remain in the city, especially on the interim basis. He said he intends to help in any way he can, but it's not his decision who takes over at City Hall once he's done.
"The city needs to (hire the) person that they want," he said.
Mayor Rick Rogers said while the city was surprised by Hannan's decision, they had been in talks with him about this before. He added that the city would "usher in a new era" of administration and believed it was helpful that members of the council had gone through city manager searches in the past.
"At the moment, we have not met as a council to discuss this, but it's customary to look at an interim," Rogers said.
He added it's been recommended they do a national search and that the interim manager will likely be necessary because of the length of a search.
Rogers said he thinks the city will be in a good place when the new city manager takes over, as they will have a budget in place and there will be progress on the city's riverfront master plan.
One concern, Rogers said, is that there has been unusually high turnover at the city manager position in the past decade. Hannan's two most recent predecessors, Dan Danicic and Jackie Betz, resigned from the post amid ongoing controversy.
However, the COG representative told them Newberg is a desirable location.
"Hopefully there's a candidate out there that's perfect for us," Rogers said.