Columbia searches for firm to help hire a new city manager

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is currently taking proposals from firms to help with the search for a new city manager.

"What we're really looking for is a group that has expertise in the area of hiring executives primarily in public entities," said Columbia community relations director Steven Sapp. "Executive search firms usually have a deeper pool of applications that are looking for this type of work."

This comes after Mike Matthes announced last week he is resigning from the city manager position. The city opened proposals for firms on Wednesday and will close them on December 12. Then, city council will decide whether it wants to use a firm or if it should just use its own internal human resources department.

"This is certainly a position that doesn't necessarily come open very often. Doing an in-house is not impossible because we don have an excellent HR staff and it could be done. There are just some of those advantages that a search firm brings with it," Sapp said. 

Sapp said the past two city manager searches have been done using an outside firm.

Once city council decides on its hiring process, it will put together a profile regarding what members are looking for in the next city manager. 

As of now, there is no firm date on when city council will decide which hiring route it would like to take. But, the city wants to keep the public in the know.

"I know Mayor Treece and other council members have indicated they want to have a very transparent process, a very community-oriented process in the search for a new manager," he said.

He said the city council will make the ultimate decision on which process it will take to hire the city manager, but wants public input on who that person should be.

"They talked about bringing in stakeholders from major businesses, public schools, universities and certainly community members," he said. "I'm sure there will be a lot of opportunities both in the public setting and probably online setting for people to express their desires, their comments and what they hope the next city manager brings with them."

It's still up in the air what exactly an outside firm will be responsible for doing and how much it would cost to hire the firm. Sapp said it depends on what the returned proposal firms say.

"Council will have to evaluate the cost for each of those and the services that they will provide and make a decision from there," he said.

Even if the city does go with an outside firm, city council will still have input and the final say.

Columbia is currently working on a web page for city manager search updates. It hopes to have the website up by the end of this week.