Citizens give commission for some jobs to do in manager search

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

by Mike Lednowicz

The Citizens Committee tasked with advising the city commission on finding the next city manager was firm Monday night with its first recommendation: Spend the money needed to find and hire the best candidate.

“At this point in time, the city needs to look back and say now is the time for us to invest in getting the right people looking for the right person to come in (to be city manager),” said committee member Steve. Simmons, an old local businessman. “We need to pay what it would take (someone) to run this city the way it should be run. You have to pay the price to get these people. It’s an investment and we’re all going to get a great return on that investment. We only have one chance at this.”

Meeting for the first time after a series of missteps by the city committee over the wording of the process for finding the right person to be city manager, the Citizens Committee unites in saying that little can be accomplished by the group until an executive search firm is met. He was hired and the committee told that company what kind of person they were looking for to run Fernandina Beach’s complex government.

“They (the city committee) have to choose a search firm. It just has to roll,” said committee chair Tim Poynter, a former city commissioner. “And then it’s the city committee’s job to decide what they’re looking for. We need this information (before we can do anything).”

A city commission is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to hire a search firm, and if so, which search firm to award the contract to.

The question is back on the committee’s agenda as a result of five search firms rejecting a city commission’s decision two weeks ago to pick and choose which search firm’s services they want to pay for, rather than paying for the entire package.

“Since 1995, only two city managers have served more than four years, and both were found by a search firm,” said committee member Margaret Davis, a retired attorney. “We’ve heard why we need the full search company package.”

The Citizens Committee also agreed to increase the city manager’s salary by $20,000-$40,000 annually. The final decision on the city manager’s salary is up to the city committee.

“The city manager and city committee are like marriage. There will be good times and there will be bad times. The city committee will have to own that decision,” said Jim Hanson of the Florida City/County Management Association who advises the citizens’ committee.

The Citizens Committee has set its next meeting on May 15.