City commissioners are now advertising nationwide for a city manager, and they agree that the next person needs to do far more than just manage.
"There really is a big difference between being a manager and being a leader," City Commissioner Sue Hack said. "I really do want the next city manager to be a leader."
Mayor Mike Amyx announced Friday that the city is now accepting applications for the position, which became open after the forced resignation in March of 16-year city manager Mike Wildgen. Commissioners will accept applications through Aug. 25, and expect to conduct interviews in late September.
"The next city manager will have to understand that they are a very important part of the decision-making process," Amyx said.
It probably will take a unique individual who can both advise commissioners and implement their decisions, said City Commissioner Boog Highberger.
"It will be a tricky balance," Highberger said. "The elected officials need to set the policy, but I think we're looking for somebody who will take the policy direction and actively implement, but also be on the lookout for ways for us to improve.
"In some ways it might be a riskier position than some people may want to take, but I think it is what we need."
The position will be advertised with a starting salary of $120,000 to $135,000. Wildgen was making an annual salary of $125,000 when he resigned.
Amyx also released a six-page document that commissioners drafted to describe the community and the challenges of the position for potential applicants. Among the points made in the document:
¢ Economic development issues are "driving" the current agenda of the city.
¢ The city manager must become a "more visible" participant in working with various groups in the community. The city manager will "step into an arena of smart players including well-funded developers, the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University and neighborhood associations. All these and more are engaged in a complicated dance shaping the community for years to come."
¢ The successful candidate should have 10 years of experience of leading a comparable organization. The "intensity of the community will not allow for a learning curve," commissioners stated.
¢ The next city manager should be a "pragmatic thinker with a vision for integrating and implementing smart growth principles."
¢ The city manager will be expected to be someone "capable of advocating for growth and management at the same time."
¢ He or she also will be comfortable working in a growing metropolitan area that is "not entirely comfortable with the direction it is going."
¢ Commissioners are insisting on a person with strong professional values and ethics, and who is "politically neutral, but actively engaged in the political process."