Columbia City Manager Announces Retirement

6 years 9 months 2 weeks ago October 05, 2010 Oct 5, 2010 Tuesday, October 05 2010 Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:29:51 PM CDT in News
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COLUMBIA - Tuesday morning, City Manager Bill Watkins announced his plan to retire. Watkins notified the city council about his plan Monday night although he had been thinking about retiring since last spring. Watkins will stick around for five more months while the city looks for his replacement.

Watkins along with Mayor Bob McDavid held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce Watkins's decision to leave. Watkins says his retirement decision had nothing to do with the City of Columbia, but rather it was time for him to "slow down a little bit." Watkins joked that the job became a "second marriage" to him and two marriages were too much for him. He also says he may possibly consider some new challenges.
 
Watkins says that during the next five months he will assist the city "as requested.? Soon after McDavid was sworn in Watkins let Mayor McDavid know he was considering retirement in 2011.
 
Watkins says "given our budget cycle... January to an April transition would make a lot of sense in terms of continuity." 
 
McDavid says the city manager is leaving the city in good shape.

"What he has offered is a steady and reassuring hand in the City. He has a calming presence, a very strong presence," he said.
 
Watkins worked for the City for 22 years, and he worked as City Manager for the past five. Watkins reminisced on his time as City Manager and said he was proud about getting a lot of different groups together to talk. 

"I think if you look at the cooperation between the City, the county, the fire district, sewer districts, university... all those groups, I think it is significantly better today than it was five years ago," he said.
 
Watkins did say that he will miss dealing with the people of Columbia the most and plans to stay in the city after he retires.
 
5th Ward Council City Member Laura Nauser says she is sorry to see Watkins leave from his city position and thinks the city will miss his vision.

"He's taken Columbia over the past several years and refocused on some economic development. And we've seen collaboration between other governmental agencies. We've become a closer community because we began to work closer together."
 
Mayor McDavid is happy that Watkins is staying until March while the search is underway for Watkin's replacement. The council hopes to have his replacement sworn in on March 7th. But, if the right person doesn't come along by then, McDavid says the city will still keep looking for the "best candidate."
 
When I asked Mayor McDavid when he was going to start a full-fledged search for a replacement he responded, "Right now." Mayor McDavid also joked that if anyone in the room wanted to apply for the job, he was accepting resumes immediately.
 
He says the council plans on interviewing and selecting an executive search firm hopefully this month. The firm will conduct interviews with council members so they know what the city council?s priorities are.
 
McDavid also told me that getting the public's opinion on a new City Manager is very important to the council. "The finalists list will interview with the council extensively and with members of the public. It will be an open process."
 
Mayor McDavid says he doesn't think the city will have a problem finding a replacement for Watkins because Watkins did such a great job. The search for a new City Manager will be nationwide. The city will also consider internal and external candidates. Mayor McDavid says it would be nice to have someone from the area replace Watkins, but overall the city is looking for an overall best candidate.

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