The Flagstaff City Council hopes the third time is the charm now that the city announced it would have to relaunch its search for a city manager after the considered candidates declined to take the position.
According to City Spokesperson Jessica Drum, the preferred candidate decided against taking the job during the negotiation process, citing the offered salary.
A second candidate who was then offered the position decided against entering into contract negotiations, Drum wrote in an email.
Flagstaff Vice Mayor Adam Shimoni called the development “unfortunate,” and Councilmember Jim McCarthy agreed with that assessment.
“The recruitment process was received well by the community and taken seriously by council,” McCarthy said. “It is unfortunate that the chosen candidate had issues preventing acceptance regarding our offer.”
Council plans to conduct another search for a city manager beginning sometime in April, Drum said. Given the reason negotiations broke down, Drum said council is likely to offer a larger salary for the position.
This most recent search, Drum said, the city had offered candidates a salary in the range of $195,000 to $215,000, but during the next search the city will offer a salary in the range of $200,000 to $230,000.
McCarthy said council has also learned that speed is of the essence when it comes to such a search. Many of the top candidates council has looked at for the position might be receiving offers from other cities Flagstaff would be essentially competing against.
One aspect that is not likely to change come the next search is the process, Shimoni said.
Prior to council making an offer, the four finalists participated in a meet and greet at the Murdoch Center that was open to the public, gave presentations to the heads of city departments and fielded questions during a public forum before they were then interviewed by council.
The forum consisted of 33 members of the public who council had invited to ask questions of the candidates. That session, however, was not open to the public generally, and the candidates' answers were not recorded.
Candidate presentations to staff were open and were streamed on the city's website.
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And with these events, Shimoni said council received a lot of feedback from both members of the public and city staff.
“It was very helpful when making a decision,” Shimoni said.
In a statement, the rest of council also praised the process.
“We are very proud of the recruitment process and want to thank city staff and the community for their involvement; we hope they will participate again,” the statement read. “While the outcome was not what we hoped for, we are very optimistic about the new search.”
In the meantime, City Manager Barbara Goodrich will continue to hold the position. Goodrich’s contract expires in October, leaving time for council to conduct another search and pick a candidate, Drum said.
The city's first search for a manager ended last year before council determined any finalists to visit Flagstaff after all of them were either eliminated or withdrew their names.
And McCarthy said council is aware that having to conduct yet another search might raise some questions.
“We’ve gone through this process twice now; on the surface that looks pretty bad,” McCarthy said. “[But] it wasn’t like council screwed this up.”
As one of two city hall positions that council hires themselves, the city manager position is of utmost importance, McCarthy said, adding that council wants to do their due diligence in choosing a new manager.
The city manager essentially runs the city, McCarthy said, and holds the responsibility to implement the policy set forth by council.
Councilmembers Austin Aslan and Charlie Odegaard declined a request for comment or could not be reached by press time.