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Fort Myers Beach Town Council sets criteria for manager search

By Staff | Jan 5, 2010

The next interim town manager of Fort Myers Beach is expected to be announced at the FMB Town Council meeting on Jan. 21. That day will involve one-on-one interviews and an island tour before the group interview at the 6:30 p.m. public meeting at town hall.
The interim manager-to-be will be selected from a pool of 14 candidates, a list which was not revealed at the Monday meeting, but included two suitors — former Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart and Cynthia Coto, a past county manager at Seminole County Government and at Volusia County — who were interested spectators in council chambers. Two other candidates — Duncan Valentine and Tony Olee — were eliminated from contention due to limitations in availability.
While not officially naming anyone to be a possible replacement for outgoing interim town manager Jack Green, who announced his intention to resign from town government, effective Feb. 12, the beach council did set certain criteria for its selection in the next 2 1/2 weeks. Each council member is expected to complete personal telephone interviews with each candidate before narrowing their choices and selecting a short list of 3-5 candidates for group consolidation at the Jan. 21 meeting. That day will consists of intimate sessions between the selected candidates and each council member from 9 a.m. to noon, then a “look-around” town with Green from noon to 4 p.m. and a group interview with the full council and candidate.
Following the group interview, the council is expected to choose one or two potentials from the agreed-upon short list.
Other criteria terms discussed by the council for the town’s next interim manager involved background checks, profiling, a performance evaluation after six months on the job, the range of salary ($130,000 to $160,000), and a council representative to help Green and FMB Town Attorney Anne Dalton firm up further negotiations. The council’s intention is to attempt to hire an interim town manager with expectations that the person will be on staff for six to eight months and, if suitable, be hired to a permanent position.
Besides Stewart, beach officials disclosed that former Lee County Manager Don Stilwell has expressed interest in the position. Both former local government officials received severance packages from their employers for different reasons. Stilwell was awarded $153,000 when he resigned in May after the Lee County Board of Commissioners discovered sexually explicit e-mails he apparently sent and received from a work computer. Stewart received six-month’s pay when he resigned in November after a new mayor and council members were elected.
Dalton said the majority of potential candidates were drawn from the Florida League of Cities’ managers in transition.
“I contacted every person on that list, and in your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is the result of that,” she said. “In addition to that, several candidates came forth voluntarily. I believe the total number of candidates was 13.”
During one of the 10-minute breaks, a resume from another candidate was apparently brought to the council’s attention to increase the list to 14.
“My guess is we don’t have as much time as we think we do,” said FMB Mayor Larry Kiker, when accessing the time line.
On Dec. 7, the Town Council directed Green and Dalton to assist in commencing the process to select a new town manager by bringing proposals from manager search firms for council review as soon as possible. Three proposals from executive search firms were announced Dec. 21: Tallahassee’s Bob Murray Associates; East Florida’s Colin Baenziger & Associates, which the town has used for two past managers (Gary Parker and Scott Janke); and Atlanta’s Slavin Management Consultants. All three firms gave time lines of two to four months, fees ranging from $12,500 to $15,000 plus expenses and guarantees from one to two years.
At the Dec. 21 meeting, council discussed options for the hiring of its next town manager and agreed by consensus to put off utilizing a search firm in order to examine local candidates for a short term basis. All five council members weighed in on their recruitment opinions. Due to the upcoming elections for council seats #1 and #2 and the difficult budget process, the council is committed to hire an interim town manager with expectations that the person will be on staff for six to eight months and, if suitable, be hired full time.
Council directed Green and Dalton to coordinate the search for an interim manager and bring those interested and qualified to the Jan. 4 meeting. There has been reports of indirect contact with possible candidates by town officials to see what interest and capabilities lies within the area.
“The next critical decision point is to narrow the field,” said FMB Vice Mayor Herb Acken. “I think we all are going to have different criteria. We should be making are own decisions on who we think the top five should be for the job.”