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The city of Flagstaff will see one of its own promoted to city manager -- at least through 2016.

On Friday, Flagstaff City Council announced its plans to hire current Deputy City Manager Josh Copley as the city’s next city manager.

But Mayor Jerry Nabours said Copley is expected to serve only 18 months while the Council relaunches a search for a longer-term city manager.

Copley will officially start his new position in September when Interim City Manager Jeff Meilbeck’s contract ends. Meilbeck plans to return to his previous position as CEO of the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority. He was hired after Kevin Burke, the former city manager, left after seven years for a similar post in Paradise Valley.

According to city staff, the city’s consultant, CPS HR Consulting, received 45 applications for the city manager position and forwarded 11 finalists to Council for consideration. The Council met in several closed-door sessions to review each applicant's qualifications.

The Council previously said it planned to invite some finalists to Flagstaff for interviews, which would trigger the release of their names under Arizona's public records laws. But Friday's announcement came without any other finalists being named or local interviews announced.

Mayor Jerry Nabours said that in the pool of 11 finalists that Council received from the consultant, “there was no one we wanted to move forward with to interviews. We decided that Josh was the logical choice for the next 18 months.”

Nabours said Council plans to restart the search for a more long-term city manager about nine to 10 months into Copley’s term.

Nabours said that Copley has only agreed to an 18-month term and Meilbeck wants to return to NAIPTA.

Copley could not be reached late Friday for comment on his selection.

Copley has been the deputy city manager since January 2012. He has overseen the management of the Flagstaff police and fire departments, utilities, management services, risk management, human resources, information technology, community development, city clerk and real estate.

Copley has been with the city for almost 30 years, including 26 years with the Flagstaff Police Department, where he worked his way up from patrol officer to deputy police chief. He holds a master of science degree in management with an emphasis in public administration from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

The reporter can be reached at or (928)556-2253.


Education/Business Reporter

Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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