Originally Published: July 6, 2016 6:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT – A six-member committee is expected to be on board by Friday, July 8, to help guide the City of Prescott through its search for a new city manager.
In a special study session Tuesday, the Prescott City Council discussed how to proceed with the ongoing manager recruitment process.
Human Resources Director Mary Jacobsen explained that the city manager job posting had generated 58 applications. Of those, she said, 28 met the city’s minimum requirements.
That pool, in turn, had been split into three categories, with about 20 remaining in the top two categories.
Jacobsen said the city had used a number of screening tools to reach the 20-applicant pool. For instance, she said, the applicants were asked to write 500 words or less on their experience and success “in making positive economic development changes in a rural, tax challenged environment.”
The essays were evaluated on effort, writing skills, content, and articulation. “It proved to be a very good screening tool,” Jacobsen said.
The HR department also did Google searches on each of the applications – a process that Jacobsen said turned up some terminations and “controversial decision-making” among the applicants.
Mayor Harry Oberg said he hopes to appoint a committee to help screen the remaining 20 applications. He plans for three of the members to be City Council members, while the other three would be community members, including a retired city manager with no previous ties to Prescott; a business person; and a representative from the legal field.
After the meeting, Oberg said he has yet to talk to the people he hopes to appoint to the committee. He said the names likely would be ready for release by Friday.
The committee members will be asked to read through the 20 applications, and narrow the field to about 10 semi-finalists. After that, Oberg said the city would narrow the field again, to three or four finalists, who would be invited to Prescott for face-to-face interviews.
City Attorney Jon Paladini pointed out that the names of the applicants are not considered public until they are narrowed to the field of finalists. He added that if the screening committee opts to meet as a group, it must follow the Arizona Open Meeting law, which would allow for executive sessions for discussion of the applicants.
A new city manager is being sought to replace current Manager Craig McConnell, who resigned May 13, effective July 12. The council later agreed that McConnell should stay on during the search and transition to a new manager.
In other action Tuesday, council members considered how to deal with a newly approved community outreach manager position. They were unable to reach a consensus on how that position should be handled, and chose to table the matter.
Several members maintained that hiring for the position should be on hold until a new city manager is on board, while others advocated moving forward immediately.