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After first finalist out, administrator search continues; no consultant yet

Jun 4, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Riverton City Council has not found outstanding candidates for the city administrator position yet. On May 18, the city held a special meeting to discuss personnel. After about an hour the council declared that it would continue the search for a new city administrator.

"The right guy has not walked through the door," Mayor Lars Baker said. "We're going to be careful and make sure we hire the right guy."

The council was indecisive about the candidate it came close to hiring, Jon Holmes, who was originally from Laramie but living in Kansas.

Members were in disagreement on whether he had fully or "accurately confirmed his circumstances" during the interview process related to past employment, Baker said.

"We thought we had a guy we thought was pretty good," he said, adding, "I was comfortable with the explanation he had given. ... He was involved with a situation that was fully investigated."

Consultant?

There are several other applicants the city has kept on file, Baker said, and the opportunity for submitting a resume remains open.

There's still the option to hire an outside consulting company as well to help in the search, he said.

"We may have to do that, but for the moment we haven't gone that direction," he said.

When former city administrator Steven Weaver was hired, the city used The Prothman Company, which specializes in executive recruitment services and interim staffing.

Baker said the city spent about $35,000 so the company could match the city with an administrator, and an additional $50,000 to pay the interim city administrator that Prothman also found.

"By the time we got done with that we spent $75,000 on consulting," he said.

Although conducting the search in-house provides a cost-savings for the city, companies like Prothman have extensive resources and experience with individuals they have placed in the past, Baker said.

For example, Prothman can find the individuals they have placed in communities, prove they've been successful in their positions and help place them elsewhere.

So far, the city has not spent anywhere near the $75,000 for the search, Baker said, noting that the pay for interim city administrator Courtney Boh-lender is less than that instituted when they used Prothman.

The city is paying for staff time to handle background checks, Baker added, but no travel and minor hotel charges were paid by the city for the recent visit of candidates.

Personality

Baker said it could take a while until the city finds the right person for the administrator post, but he doesn't want to rush into a decision until staff has fully vetted the options and potential candidates.

Baker said the council has recognized that it's impossible to find someone identical to the person who held the job before. Different people bring different personalities and skills, and those elements influence the entire organization.

"People will leave if they don't get along with that guy," Baker said.

In the pile of applications received, Baker said there are candidates who are retired and are interested in getting back to work. Other candidates "don't have the practical experience."

"Running a city is all about getting the people working together," he said. "It's about supervising people and trying to get people focused on the tasks."

Baker said he was hoping to pitch the job opening at the Wyoming Association of Mu-nicipalities Convention this week in Gillette.

"That's how we got Carter Napier," he said. "He wasn't looking for a job, but (then-Mayor) John Vincent was looking for a hand."

Napier is a former Riverton city administrator who was Weaver's predecessor. Last week, Napier was named Casper city administrator after several yeaers in Gillette. Casper calls its position the city manager.

Budget

The current budget planning is taking over a majority of the city's and council's focus and time, Baker said, but that process is set to be finalized on June 13. Then it will be "out of the way."

The city has scheduled a work session for 5:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the fiscal year 2017-2018 city budget. The next regular council meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Baker said Monday's budget presentation will be a culmination of tedious efforts to make the budget work for the city.

"We've been very conservative in estimating our revenue, and because of that we're in good shape financially," he said.

While the county budget relies heavily on oil and gas revenue from the state, the city budget tends to rely more on real estate and local development, Baker said. So, unless the real estate "falls apart" drastically, the city can work its numbers to sustain a good budget.

"We're not seeing any terrible challenges in Riverton in the budget," Baker said.
 

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