Bainbridge council asks for redo on evaluation process

Bainbridge’s favorite Texas charmers may return to the island once again as the city council considers asking for further assistance with its new city manager.

City Manager Doug Schulze has been six months on the job and the council is eager to establish a review process for his work. The council selected Texas-based Strategic Government Resources to take on the task at its last meeting on May 22.

The details of the firm’s task, however, have yet to be determined. The initial $10,275 price tag seemed expensive to many on the dais and Schulze has been instructed to negotiate with the firm to get the best bang for the city’s buck.

Some on the council are motivated to get the review done sooner than later.

“I am very embarrassed; this is the third or fourth time that we have passed a review deadline for a manager,” said Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos.

That said, the council was faced with two offers from consultants to assist with the review and wasn’t happy with either, and council members said the proposals didn’t address what they wanted to see in a city manager review.

One offer came from Caryn Tilton with Caryn Tilton Consulting, but the council felt that, while the offer was the cheaper choice, it didn’t satisfy their needs.

“I am familiar with (Tilton) because we used her before, and I don’t want to use her,” Hytopoulos said.

The options were too different, she added, and suggested hiring Strategic Government Resources instead.

“I don’t think this is comparing apples to apples, this is apples to oranges,” she said.

Councilwoman Debbi Lester favored hiring Tilton, but the council ultimately agreed with Hytopoulos and selected Strategic Government Resources.

The decision to invite Ron Holifield from Strategic Government Resources to the council’s next retreat on June 30 hasn’t been easy. The council discussed their disappointment with the review proposal the firm had offered at its meeting on May 22.

“I am very disappointed in what we got from SGR,” Hytopoulos said. “But we have had a good relationship with them up till now, and they are very credible in areas I am concerned about.”

Strategic Government Resources proposed various components to handling Schulze’s review, including an examination of a credentialing process used by the International City/County Management Association; the orchestration of a performance evaluation and compilation of its results; and conferences with the city manager and each council member.

But some on the dais, including Hytopoulos, felt the menu of services was too “cookie cutter” and officials wanted a plan more formatted to Bainbridge Island.

Schulze was asked to “tighten up” the program.

In addition to the $10,275 asked for its services, Strategic Government Resources also sought travel expenses, as well as an additional $150 per day for lodging and another $45 daily per diem to cover meals.

“It’s more expensive than I would have thought,” said Mayor Steve Bonkowski. “I would not look at doing this on a continuous basis.”

Bonkowski noted that it may be worth the money to at least get the ball rolling so the council could develop a program to review Schulze.

Ever since the new city council was seated at the beginning of 2012, it has utilized the assistance of Strategic Government Resources at its annual June retreat. It also added a followup retreat late last year with the consulting firm.

The firm was also hired by the city to conduct the search for its new city manager and police chief.

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