Six firms express interest in helping with manager search | UPDATED

The search for a new city manager for Bainbridge Island isn’t as popular as “Where’s Waldo,” but the list of lookers continues to grow.

Six headhunting firms have contacted the city with proposals to help find a new manager.

The search has become more urgent over the past week. Though Bainbridge had originally planned to keep its current city manager in place during the search for a new top executive, the city council, on a 4-3 vote last week, fired Brenda Bauer from her position as city manager.

Part-time Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith has been stepping in to keep things running.

Five executive search firms from outside Washington state, and one from Issaquah, have offered to help the city of Bainbridge Island find a new city manager.

The prospective consultants are Prothman, an Issaquah-based company; Affion Public, an executive search firm in Harrisburg, Pa.; the Waters Consulting Group, Inc. of Dallas, Texas; Neher & Associates of West Sacramento, Calif.; Strategic Government Resources of Keller, Texas; and the Mercer Group, Inc. of Atlanta, Ga.

Bonkowski said Wednesday that all six proposals from the firms will soon be on the city’s website for public view.

Suggested search fees, before expenses, from the six firms range from $7,500 to $21,500.

Bainbridge expects to hire a company to do the search by March 30.

A council subcommittee has narrowed the field to two, Prothman and Strategic Government Resources.

Councilman Steve Bonkowski asked the council Wednesday to approve asking the two firms to come show how they would conduct the search process.

Councilman Bob Scales, however, told his colleagues that he would like to review all six proposals the city has received before cutting the list.

Scales added that the city has a previous relationship with Prothman and that should be taken into consideration by the council.

The council is expected to continue the discussion at next week’s council meeting, and possibly pick two front-runners for the job.

Prothman, an executive search firm that has assisted Bainbridge in the past, has completed 37 searches in the past four years for managers or administrators. Company officials said the firm is currently recruiting managers or administrators for Stanwood, Lake Forest and Clatsop County, Ore.

The company has offered to conduct the search for Bainbridge Island’s next city manager for $18,500, plus expenses.

Affion Public helped the city of Tacoma find an assistant director of finance in 2009, and an assistant city manager in 2006. The company also found a planning director for Bellevue, Wash. and Eugene, Ore. in 2010.

The company also conducted a city manager search for the cities of Austin and San Marcos, Texas in 2008. Recently, it assisted the city of Hollywood, Fla. in recruiting a city manager. The company also worked with the mayor of Round Rock, Texas, in that city’s search for a new city manager.

In its proposal, Affion Public said the search fee for a city manager would be $15,000 for a full executive search, with expenses not to exceed $5,000.

The Walters Consulting Group has found city managers for the cities of Baytown and Fort Worth, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Sanford, Fla.; and Maricopa, Ariz.

The Walters Consulting Group has proposed an all-inclusive fee of $21,500.

Neher & Associates is currently completing a chief of staff search for the King County Council. According to the company’s submittal package, it has conducted more than 240 executive searches for city and county governments.

Recent work by the firm includes the search for a city manager in Eugene; Brunswick, Ohio; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Richmond, Calif.; and Crystal Lake, Ill.

Neher & Associates said it can do the city manager search for a “reduced fee” of $12,000 — “given current budget/financial considerations for most public agencies today” — with expenses not to exceed $5,000.

Strategic Government Resources has conducted city manager searches for a large swath of Texas cities, and the company’s client list also includes cities in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The firm also assisted the city of Richland, Wash. in finding a new police chief.

Strategic Government Resources has said its search fee would total $7,500, with expenses up to $6,500.

The Mercer Group has conducted more than 260 recruitment and selection efforts for city managers and administrators across the country.

The firm has been involved with searches for city managers in 2010 in Bangor, Maine; Birmingham, Mich.; Bloomfield, N.M.; and last year, in Goldsboro, N.C.; Littleton, Colo.; and Winchester, Va.

The Mercer Group has offered to do the search for $19,500, with expenses not to exceed $8,000.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Councilwoman Anne Blair said the subcommittee would like to identify possible interim city managers within two weeks and bring those names back to council.

The time line prompted some concern, though.

“How are we going to find an interim in two weeks?” Scales asked. “I would want a tried-and-tested interim manager who has done this multiple times.”

A few of the proposals from search firms offered to take on the search for an interim city manager in addition to finding a permanent city manager.

The city has received offers from various people to take on the interim position, some for free, Bonkowski said.


Review writer Richard D. Oxley contributed to this report.

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