With the appointment of Larry Patterson as the city of Sammamish’s Interim City Manager at the last meeting, the city council continued to make progress on the search for a long-term replacement this week.
At their Sept. 11 meeting, council member Chris Ross reported back to the council with a recommendation to use a request for proposal (RFP) to find and contract a national management search firm to conduct the search and hiring process for a new city manager.
Ross, along with council members Karen Moran and Pam Stuart, was part of a subgroup created at the Aug. 23 council meeting to decide how the search for a new city manager would be conducted. The group worked with Patterson, senior human resources analyst Mandy Bossard, and management analyst Mike Sugg to create the recommendation.
Discussion at the last council meeting centered around the possibility of bringing on a third party to conduct a search, or if the city should conduct its own search for a candidate.
“In discussing the approaches and reviewing the draft RFP before you, we looked at two RFPs from other cities which are contained in the agenda packet,” Ross said. “We also relied heavily on Mr. Patterson’s expertise. Mr. Patterson has conducted five city manager recruitments and various department head executive searches.”
Ross said the group concluded that contracting a third-party search firm was the most prudent choice for the city. He outlined seven reasons for the decision, the first being that there is limited time for staffing in the city’s human resources division, as well as the absence of communications staff to assist with promoting the recruitment.
Other justifications for the recommendation included that an executive search firm has better access to a large pool of candidates, professional managers and management organizations, the transparency of the process would be greater with a third party firm involved, the search firm could guide the city staff and public involvement during the interviews, and the firm would have the ability to do initial background checks on the candidates.
Ross’s final reason for going with a search firm was the cost savings of having city staff perform the search was not significant because “the essential duties of the dedicated HR person assigned to recruitment would likely require additional resources from a temporary service to perform them.”
Council member Tom Hornish immediately made a motion to approve the recommendation and authorize the interim city manager to release the RFP. The motion was approved with a 7-0 vote.
The cost of hiring an executive search firm is estimated at $25,000 to $50,000. Other financial impacts with the search are travel accommodations and meals for candidates and their spouses during the interview process. Moving costs for the selected candidate may also be necessary if they do not live near the city, according to an agenda bill.
Ross also noted that a separate background investigator may also be necessary to conduct checks on the final candidates, but that was not part of the recommendation made at the meeting.