Firm chosen to conduct city manager search

Posted Jan. 25, 2010, at 10:20 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — City councilors on Monday approved the selection of an Atlanta-based recruitment firm to conduct the search for a new city manager.

In early December, the city sent requests for proposals to approximately 40 firms to lead the search to replace longtime City Manager Ed Barrett. Bangor received 11 responses by its Dec. 30 deadline. Since then, a small committee has weeded through the requests, identified three finalists and formed a recommendation.

That recommendation was the Mercer Group of Atlanta, Ga., which the city has used in past employment searches, including during the hiring of Bangor International Airport Director Rebecca Hupp.

The two other finalists, Slaven Management Consultants of Norcross, Ga., and Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith, N.H., also were brought in for interviews in the last few weeks.

“The Mercer Group came out way on top,” Councilor Pat Blanchette said, referring to the company’s representative, Jim Mercer, as a good listener with a common-sense approach.

The city also agreed to appropriate $16,500 in fees and not more than $8,000 in other costs such as travel and advertising to pay for Mercer’s services.

“The cost is significant, but I think it’s worth it,” Councilor Geoff Gratwick said. “The cost of not doing this well would be horrific.”

The contract is effective today.

Barrett announced his retirement in late October after 22 years as Bangor’s city manager. His departure was part of an agreement with the City Council, which expressed a desire to move Bangor in a new direction.

Barrett has since been named the new city administrator in Lewiston, while assistant city manager Bob Farrar has assumed the position of Bangor’s interim city manager. Farrar has said he does not want to be considered for the job permanently.

City Finance Director Debbie Cyr, who has coordinated the selection of a recruitment firm, said Mercer Group is prepared to have the position of Bangor city manager filled within 90 to 120 days.

Among the tasks the firm will be asked to do are:

• 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.

Councilor Pat Blanchette cautioned fellow councilors not to send mixed messages to its new contracted employee.

“The worst thing we can do is give them instructions and then change our mind,” she said. “We need to tell them exactly what we’re looking for.”

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