Eau Claire will do a nationwide search with the help of a consultant to find the city’s next top employee.
The City Council decided during a Tuesday evening work session that it will hire a company to help find candidates for the next city manager.
“They have networks we don’t have access to,” Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle said of executive search firms. “This is not an Indeed.com kind of search.”
The city will send out notice by the end of this week that it is seeking proposals from firms experienced at finding high-level employees for the public sector.
Firms vying for the contract will have until early next month to submit proposals and the council expects to choose one in mid-March.
Hiring an executive search firm is expected to cost between $20,000 and $35,000, which doesn’t include expenses, city human resources director Vicki Seltun said.
The last time the city used a search firm when it sought outside candidates for manager in 2012, 11 consultants submitted proposals. Seltun said a couple of executive search firms already have contacted the city to pitch their services upon hearing news of current City Manger Dale Peters’ impending retirement.
Peters announced last week that he intends to retire in May, ending a career of more than 30 years working in the Eau Claire city government.
Peters, who had been the city’s human resources director before being promoted to manager in 2016, offered some advice to the council on Tuesday, but deferred to Seltun.
“I will be sitting on the sidelines mostly with this,” Peters said.
Though he will still be in office for some of the recruitment process, there is expected to be a gap between Peters’ last day and the next city manager.
Hiring the next city manager could be a four- to six-month process, Seltun said.
“That’s probably being a little optimistic,” she added.
The next manager may start in the job in July or August, Seltun said, which means there will need to be an interim leader to run the city for a couple of months.
After being asked if he’d consider sticking around until his successor starts, Peters reiterated his retirement time frame.
“I’m planning my last day to be sometime in May,” he said.
At that point, the city will still be reviewing candidates and narrowing the field, according to its ideal timeline for hiring a replacement.
Also during Tuesday’s work session, the council decided not to create a new ad-hoc committee made of some of its members that would focus on the city manager search. Instead, the entire council will be involved throughout the hiring process.
In two weeks the council will meet to discuss a potential survey that city employees and community members could take to express opinions on what they would like to see in the next city manager.