City commissioners hope to have a new city manager selected within at least six months.
Mayor Boog Highberger on Wednesday said commissioners had not set a firm timeline for the search to be completed, but he said a three- to six-month process was likely. City Commissioner Mike Amyx agreed. He is scheduled to begin a one-year term as mayor on Tuesday.
"The timeline, I think, is realistic," Amyx said. "It will be a big goal of mine to stay within it. I really don't want it to go longer than that."
Commissioners are searching for a new city manager after Mike Wildgen three weeks ago was asked to resign after 16 years as the city's top executive. Commissioners cited concerns related to long-term planning and infrastructure issues as reasons for Wildgen's release.
Highberger also confirmed the commission has agreed to hire a consulting firm to help the city with a nationwide search to fill the job. He said commissioners - who have been meeting about the search in closed-door executive sessions - had not settled on a particular consulting firm. But Highberger said a consultant would help attract more qualified applicants.
Related content about Mike Wildgen
- 6News video: Consultant to help search for new city manager
- New city manager may be selected within six months
- 6News video: City Commissioners approve separation agreement for Wildgen (03-14-06)
- City Commission quietly enters post-Wildgen era (03-15-06)
- Wildgen's bosses 1990-2006 (pdf)
- Wildgen's departure surprises ex-leaders (03-12-06)
- 6News video: Former City Manager will collect annual salary
- City manager leaves with $121K, raise
- Wildgen's severance package
- No timeline in search for city manager
- Three led push for resignation
- 6News video: City Commissioners speak out about Wildgen's resignation
- 6News video: Commissioners ask city manager to step down
- 6News video: A look back at Wildgen's term as city manager
- Photo Gallery: Mike Wildgen
- Wildgen's resignation statement
- City commission news release about Wildgen
- Longtime city manager resigns under pressure (03-09-06)
- Wildgen accomplished much in office (03-09-06)
- Lawrence city manager resigns under pressure (03-08-06)
- More about Mike Wildgen
"I think we need to cast our net as wide as possible to identify every possible candidate we can," Highberger said. "Consultants know the people in the industry. They can go out and recruit. It is something we would not have the resources to do on our own."
City commissioners have scheduled another executive session for Tuesday. Highberger said commissioners need to come to a conclusion on which consulting firm to hire. He also said commissioners needed to craft a statement about what type of individual they're seeking for the job.
That may spark a philosophical discussion about what role the city manager should play. Traditionally, city managers can either be viewed as executives who implement decisions of elected officials, or leaders who actively give advice and guidance to commissioners as they set policy.
"That is something we need to be clear about before we start the hiring process," Highberger said. "My sense is that the majority of the commission is interested in a candidate who will be active and initiate changes."
Commissioners also have to decide how to proceed with the search for a new planning director. Longtime director Linda Finger resigned her post under pressure in December.
There's some sentiment on the commission that the search should be delayed until a new city manager is hired.
"I still think the city manager needs to ultimately have input on the hiring of the planning director," Amyx said.
But both Amyx and Highberger said commissioners were working well together on the search. The Journal-World learned that commissioners were not unanimous in seeking Wildgen's resignation. Commissioners Sue Hack, Mike Rundle and David Schauner sought the resignation, while Highberger and Amyx did not.
"We are unanimous in moving forward," Highberger said. "We're not going to dwell on the past. We're moving forward."