BERLIN — The Berlin City Council worked out a flexible plan regarding hiring a new city manager Tuesday evening during the council's regularly scheduled work session.
Council members met with Toni Flewelling with the member services department of Primex, the city’s property liability and workers’ compensation risk pool insurer, via Zoom to discuss the schedule and steps in the process of hiring a new city manager to replace the outgoing city manager Jim Wheeler.
Wheeler recently announced his resignation from the position, effective Dec. 3, to seek an opportunity in the private sector.
Initially, Flewelling asked the council if they had a target date for hiring a new city manager.
Mayor Paul Grenier said ideally the city would like to have someone in place by mid-December. He said while Wheeler would officially be gone on Dec. 3, he had offered to help with the transition process for the new city manager.
The city recently posted the job notice for the position and is accepting applications until Oct. 15.
Flewelling suggested that following receipt of the applications the city should then select a date to narrow candidates down to a predetermined number. She suggested the week following Oct. 15 as a time to narrow the list down.
Flewelling said some communities also want to have candidates participate in a DISC job benchmark assessment, which is an exercise that compares candidates to the job’s benchmark standards as set by city officials.
Flewelling said the last time the city went through the search for a city manager, the city used a subcommittee of council members and city department managers participated.
Grenier suggested five council members, someone as part of the city’s senior management staff as well as professional managers for a total of nine committee members.
Grenier said he would like to trim the initial applicants to 10 candidates that could then be considered by the entire council.
Flewelling said once the list is culled to 10 candidates, the next step would be to conduct the first round of interviews and she suggested Nov. 5 as the deadline to try to have those interviews complete.
Grenier said he would like to move the process along, but the Nov. 5 deadline would depend in part on where potential applicants are coming from. Flewelling then suggested conducting some interviews via Zoom or a similar platform to help speed the process along.
Flewelling then asked whether the city wanted to also have a committee of community members involved in the process.
Grenier said he didn’t know if the city had the luxury of using that framework this time around due to time limitations on the process.
Grenier then said he would like to narrow the candidates from 10 to three following the first round of interviews. Flewelling suggested Nov. 12 as the deadline to reach the final three candidates, which the council seemed to favor.
Flewelling then suggested the week of Nov. 15-19 as the dates for second interviews of the final three candidates. She said typically these interviews would be handled solely by the council. She said one of the other common steps in a work project exercise is to get input from the candidates on how they might handle a current city issue.
Flewelling said the next steps following the second interview would be background checks including credit and driving history checks, followed by contract negotiations for the potential final candidate.
During the discussion, Flewelling said Primex was trying to get away from being directly engaged in facilitating interviews.
Grenier then asked about the possibility of engaging the services of an outside facilitator to help with that process. Flewelling said Primex would help in the process in any way they can and that Primex was not opposed to bringing in an outside facilitator.
Council member Michael Rozek asked what would happen if the city could not locate a city manager by the time frame specified. As was discussed previously, Grenier said that the city may enlist the services of Municipal Resources, Inc. to help with the issue. He said Wheeler was working on that possible track as well.