Search for new town manager may begin - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Search for new town manager may begin

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Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 12:00 am

The Oro Valley Town Council plans to weigh the options of hiring a new town manager.

On the agenda for the Wednesday, Jan. 20 meeting, the council intends to initiate a process to find a permanent replacement for former town manager David Andrews, who was pressured to resign in September.

Since then, Assistant Town Manager Jerene Watson has served as interim manager.

Councilman K.C. Carter said he's eager to get the search under way, citing a need for additional people to staff the manager's office.

"I think that it would be advisable to start the process so that we can have available people in case something happens to the (interim) manager," Carter said.

Since Watson was appointed interim manager, some department heads have been stretched thin. Town Finance Director Stacey Lemos has stepped in to fill some of the assistant town manager duties, while others have picked up additional duties as well.

Human Resources Direcor Sandra Abbey recently left for a job with the Tucson Airport Authority, leaving Chief Civil Deputy Town Attorney Joe Andrews to fill the position in the interim.

Presented for the council to consider are three possible courses of action, all of which bear some cost.

The first would be to look within the ranks of town employees to find a permanent manager. The option is estimated to cost less than $1,000.

Another option is to place ads in media across Arizona and the region, and to hire a temporary recruiter to help locate a replacement. This option carries an estimated price tag of $28,000 for newspaper ads, recruiter fees and travel costs for candidates.

The final option would be to hire an outside consultant to conduct a nationwide search. This option would cost an estimated $46,000 and take up to nine months to complete.

"Whatever decision we make has to be in the best interest of the town as a whole," Vice Mayor Bill Garner said.

Garner said he favors the third option, despite the costs, because of the assurances it provides. He said the outside firm comes with guarantees that a candidate will stay for a minimum amount of time. If the new manager doesn't fulfill that obligation, the firm would conduct a second search for free.

For Garner, there's an additional consideration. Hiring a consultant would take the longest amount of time, pulling the process through the upcoming council election. That way, a newly empaneled town council would hire the new town manager.

With three council seats and the mayor's job up for grabs, the makeup of the council is likely to change. In fact, at least two newcomers will win council seats because Councilman Al Kunisch has decided not to run, and Councilwoman Paula Abbott resigned in October before her term expired.

In the wake of the acrimonious departure of former manager Andrews, a complaint was filed with the Arizona Attorney General's Office. In September, Oro Valley resident Art Segal filed the complaint with the state, listing concerns that Loomis and council members Al Kunisch, Carter and Abbott had violated open meetings laws before Andrews' ouster.

Since then, investigators with the attorney general's office have taken audio recordings of a closed session held the week before Andrews' resignation, when his contract was up for renewal.

The state's investigation is ongoing.

The town council meets Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. in council chamber at Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.

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