City will seek proposals from search firms
Area resident asks council to consider an internal hire for city manager
The City of Webster City will send out requests for proposals from several search firms as the City Council begins the process of finding the next city manager.
The council met in virtually Monday and the public was invited to take part in the meeting via Zoom or through Facebook Live.
The council approved a separation agreement with City Manager Jeff Sheridan on Dec. 14. Sheridan had been the city manager for Webster City since August 2019.
According to Beth Chelsevig, administrative services, the RFP letter will be sent to five search firms across the country, requesting background on the firms, information on the consultants who will be assigned to the project, references and their fees.
A local citizen, Tonya Doyle, asked the council to consider internal options for the position.
“I think this gives us a new opportunity to bring life to our city,” she said. “I’d like to see us consider internal candidates before we move with recruiting fees from outside firms because it becomes very expensive.”
“Unfortunately, that’s quite a large fee for that headhunting service,” said Councilman Logan Welch. “I do like your idea looking internally, too.”
Doyle related some of her experiences while serving as the financial controller at Barilla in Ames. She said the company went with an interim plant manager who was someone already employed with the firm.
“The turnover was really hurting us. We needed a solid leader,” she said. “At that time, we looked internal.”
She told the council the move was the “most successful thing that we did.”
Doyle said she believes there maybe more than one candidate working for the city that maybe interested in the leadership position.
“I would like to see what do we have for talent that’s already there, already invested — people who want to step up to lead us into the future,” she said.
Doyle said there is a larger risk bringing in someone new than letting an existing employee tryout the position as interim city manager. She said at Barilla, the interim plant manager brought up from within eventually was selected as new manager.
“It proved to us that we have skill sets right under our nose and they are willing to step up and help,” she said. “You may have people that don’t step but would be good candidates and would be a good fit for this position.”
Councilman Brian Miller said the idea needed to be considered.
“This is the third time going through this headhunting process and I don’t love it,” he said. “But its also our responsibility to find the best fit for Webster City.”
“It’s a fair question, Tanya, and we’ll definitely take it on board,” said Mayor John Hawkins. “We’ll have a discussion over this. We’ll have to look and see what we can do.”
Hawkins said the RFP’s going out to search firms was not a commitment – only a request for information.