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Cape to discuss city manager search methodology

By Staff | Dec 12, 2009

Discussions about the future of the city manager position heat back up on Monday, as council decides what approach to take for the sought-after position.
Two central questions remain: Should council employ an outside agency to do a nationwide search or hire locally? And should council seek a traditional city manager candidate, or reach out to a so-called “change agent” who would approach the job in a radically different manner.
Mayor John Sullivan expects a good conversation from council on the subject. Sullivan has said in the past he supports a national search, but is leery of spending the money.
“The object is to get the council to put ideas on the table to see how we’re going to proceed with this,” he said. “Nothing is written in stone at this point … we need to stay flexible with this.”
The estimated cost of using an executive search firm to conduct a nationwide search is between $20,000 – $25,000.
If the city were to rely solely on its human resources department to find a new city manager, the estimated cost is roughly $5,000 for advertising.
Several interested candidates — including former mayor Eric Feichthaler and local businessman Gary King — already have their eye on the position.
And, of course, there’s still interim city manager Carl Schwing to consider, who’s currently making $142,000 — his annual salary as assistant city manager — to fill in.
District 1 councilmember Marty McClain said he supports a national search. McClain said things could end up much like Lee County, which spent money on the same type of search, only to stick with their interim county manager, Karen Hawes.
But if a national search weren’t conducted, McClain said, the city will never know what type of talent is truly out there.
“We could have one of the top contenders take the position if it were offered … you never know what’s out there,” McClain said, adding that Cape Coral needs someone with government management and government finance management history and training.
“We have to have someone what has that knowledge,” he said.
Councilman Pete Brandt has maintained that he would like to see someone local get the job, preferably someone with a finance and big business background and that he would not support retaining Carl Schwing as city manager.
“I think we have several, if not half a dozen people, already here that fit the bill,” Brandt said.
City council meets 4:30 pm, on Monday, at city hall.