Originally Published: August 23, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT — A Georgia public administrator with about 20 years of experience in the field of county and city management will take the helm at the City of Prescott this fall.
By a unanimous vote Monday morning, Aug. 22, the Prescott City Council approved a contract with Michael Lamar – currently the county manager in Morgan County, Georgia.
Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg said Lamar is expected to be on board within 45 to 60 days.
“Michael impressed the City Council with his perspective and successes in balancing growth and development with quality of life, and will bring a new energy to the position of city manager,” Oberg said Monday, adding that Lamar was the top choice of the candidate-evaluation panels.
Lamar, 44, has worked as the manager of Morgan County since 2005, and has worked in local government since 1996. Previous jobs have included city manager in Trenton, Florida, from 1999 to 2005, and staff liaison in the county manager’s office in Volusia County, Florida, from 1996 to 1999.
Lamar draws several parallels between his current home in Madison, Georgia, and Prescott.
Like Prescott, Madison has a concentration of historic homes, Lamar said, which attracts tourists from nearby Atlanta. “We get a lot of day-trippers,” he said of Madison, which is about 55 miles from Atlanta.
In addition, Madison offers a spot for “urban escape” from the metropolitan area – similar to Prescott’s appeal to residents of Phoenix and Los Angeles, Lamar said.
In his cover letter to the city, Lamar he was confident that the people he had worked with in Georgia would describe him as “a passionate and visionary leader that ‘gets things done,’” and he cited several examples of accomplishments in economic development, as well as regional cooperation.
On Monday, Lamar also stressed that he is “committed to open and transparent interactions with the public and the media.”
Lamar’s contract includes an annual salary of $149,000, as well as payment toward the Arizona State Retirement System, and $6,000 per year toward a deferred compensation plan. It also provides for six months of severance pay “in the event the city manager is removed from office by the City Council” during the term of the agreement.
Other points of the contract include: Up to $10,000 in moving expenses; a one-time credit of 40 hours in Lamar’s PTO (paid time off) bank, along with 40 hours exempt leave every January, prorated for calendar year 2016 from his start date; a $400 monthly car allowance; and a cell phone allowance of $100 per month.
Prior to the Monday council vote, Oberg outlined the process that had taken place leading up to the choice of Lamar.
After current City Manager Craig McConnell announced his resignation in May, the city advertised the position, and received 58 applications. The field was initially narrowed to about 20 of the most qualified by the city’s human resources department, and then to nine by a city screening committee made up of three council members and three members of the public.
The screening committee then conducted Skype interviews with the semifinalists, and narrowed the field to four finalists, who were invited to Prescott for in-person interviews.
The two-day recruitment schedule on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, included a meet-and-greet breakfast attended by about 15 community members, business people, non-profit representatives, and government officials. Oberg said the breakfast attendees represented “a broad group” from the community.
The council then conducted closed-door interviews with the finalists, and later instructed HR Director Mary Jacobsen during a public session to follow the direction outlined in the executive session. The city posted the Monday meeting agenda on Saturday morning, Aug. 20, including Lamar’s name. The contract negotiations were completed late Friday evening, Oberg said.
Jacobsen said Monday that the cost for the recruitment, interview process, and finalists’ travel totaled about $5,000.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Lamerson commended city staff and members of the screening committee for their efforts going through the resumes and narrowing the field.
Added Councilman Steve Sischka: “This is a great day for the City of Prescott. We got it right.”
Councilwoman Billie Orr pointed to Lamar’s emphasis on “quality of life” issues as important to the council’s final choice.
In his cover letter, Lamar said he and his wife are “deeply committed to a move ‘Out West.’” They plan to move to Prescott with their 10-year-old daughter, and Lamar said he hopes to be on the job in Prescott by late October.