BANGOR, Maine — The city will begin sending out requests for proposals this week to recruitment firms that might be interested in conducting Bangor’s search for a new city manager.
The City Council’s finance committee on Monday authorized Assistant City Manager Bob Farrar to submit requests to approximately 40 firms, half of which are from Maine.
The deadline for responses is Dec. 30, at which time they will be opened publicly. Shortly thereafter, a selection committee will whittle the list down and eventually pick a firm. The search process is expected to take several months, even after the city selects a recruitment firm.
“The numbers and timeline are important, but what’s more important is that we get the person that meets the criteria,” City Council Chairman Richard Stone said. “We’re not a baseball team where you need a shortstop and so you put just anyone there. It’s important, but not urgent.”
Current City Manager Ed Barrett announced his retirement in late October after 22 years as Bangor’s CEO. His departure was part of an agreement with the City Council, which expressed a desire to move Bangor in a new direction, one that did not involve Barrett. Last month, at the request of Councilor Hal Wheeler, the council was asked to reconsider its decision to part ways with Barrett. That vote failed 5-4.
Barrett’s retirement agreement stipulated that he would stay on as Bangor’s city manager possibly through April 30, 2010. However, Barrett accepted a job last week as the city administrator in Lewiston. He starts there on Jan. 11, and his last day in Bangor will be the week of Dec. 20-26.
Stone said the City Council would vote by the end of the month to appoint an acting city manager, likely someone from the existing staff.
One point of clarification that came out of Monday’s finance committee meeting was the potential cost associated with hiring a recruitment firm. Initial estimates ranged between $15,000 and $50,000, but Councilor Cary Weston said Monday that he would eat his tie if the cost even approaches $50,000. Other councilors agreed that $50,000 was a high estimate.
In the request for proposals, the city is seeking a firm to:
• Develop a recruitment plan in conjunction with the council that addresses specific duties, responsibilities, operational issues, management qualities and other factors relevant to the position of city manager.
• Coordinate all stages of the process with the City Council.
• Translate the City Council’s requirements into a detailed recruitment brochure to support a comprehensive search.
• Conduct in-depth interviews, background checks and verify credentials for all finalists.
• Assist in the negotiation of an employment agreement with the final candidate.
Between now and the time the proposals are due, the City Council also plans to outline specific traits it’s looking for in a new manager, as well as a refined vision for the city, according to Stone.
Amid the entire process, the five councilors who upheld the decision to force Barrett’s retirement (David Nealley, Gerry Palmer, Susan Hawes, Pat Blanchette and Rick Bronson) are facing a recall. Petitioner Jim Elmore has begun the process of gathering 2,286 signatures to force a recall election and has until February to reach that goal.
Councilors have said that they are less concerned about a recall than about governing the city and making important decisions.
“My challenge is to keep people focused,” Stone said. “Sometimes we get off topic and need to be reined back in toward the same goal.”