Firm Outlines City Manager Search Process

OCEAN CITY – If all stays on track, a new city manager should be in place by March, but it will take a lengthy search process to get there.

The Mayor and City Council has chosen a firm, Springsted Inc., to conduct a national search for a new city manager. This week Springsted Senior Vice President John Anzivino presented the steps involved with the search process in making a final selection.

Anzivino started out by stating that he was once a manager and worked in the public sector for 27 years before retiring. He has now worked for Springsted for 10 years and has conducted over 100 searches.

“We recognize that this is a special event for the Town of Ocean City,” he said. “This is not something that you have a history of doing very often and consequently it is going to be our focus taking you through the process, and make sure that you stay on time, and that we conduct this search in a professional manner that reflects positively on the Town of Ocean City.”

Anzivino said that recruiting the right person to manage the city’s resources, and finding an experienced and highly trained professional to lead Ocean City’s management team can be a difficult task.

“I have got to say it is an attractive community, right now there aren’t a lot of folks here, but it is still a very attractive community,” Anzivino said. “It looks like there has been a great deal of thought put into the community in how it is developed in its appearance, which is important because it speaks to the type of person you want managing the community into the future.”

Starting Tuesday morning, the consultant team began to analyze the city manager position by interviewing the Mayor and City Council and their expectations involved with the position. They will also schedule meetings with key city staff, including department heads, to produce their views on issues related to knowledge, skills, abilities, key traits and management style the ideal candidate should possess and what operational issues the successful candidate will face.

“Each local government has a unique set of needs and requirements and we already know that this is a hospitality-based community, a service-oriented community, and a community which both the town and the county rely upon for a large source of revenue from the hospitality based industry’s that you have here,” Anzivino said. “So the individual we work towards recruiting is going to have to have a sense how important that is to you and have the experience in that area.”

In the future the consultant team will develop both a “Community” and a “Position” profile that describes the town, the organization, Ocean City’s quality of life and future challenges and key requirements of the position. They will than meet with the Mayor and City Council to ensure the document is correct in what the essence of what Ocean City’s next city manager should be.

The document will then be widely distributed to potential candidates, while the team seeks individuals who meet the desired expectations. Advertisements will be placed in appropriate publications and professional journals and they will receive, acknowledge, review and screen each application on behalf of Ocean City.

Once 10 to 15 candidates are identified, initial telephone interviews and reference checks will take place. The consultant team will than present a preliminary report to Ocean City for review, consideration, and discussion and meet with the Mayor and City Council to review the interview results in order to narrow down the candidates.

The final steps will include the preparation of a more detailed report containing four to five candidates selected by the Mayor and Council for interviews that will be scheduled and conducted.

Recruitment and preliminary screenings will take place January through February. February into March, semi-finalists will be identified, as well as the selection of the finalists. In March, the interview and final selection will take place.

Councilwoman Mary Knight reminded Anzivino that there was very close vote, 4-3, to have former City Manager Dennis Dare removed, and asked how the consultant team plans on balancing the varying expectations of the council.

“We have worked with a number of governing bodies that have different philosophical views and I think what we need realize is we are focusing on an individual to manage the city and the expectations of the city are not the personal expectations of each individual council member,” Anzivino replied. “You are looking for somebody that is going to be able to technically manage the city and have the experience to do so but also manage the personality traits, the skills, and beyond that really work with you as a governing body, with the city staff, the visitors that come here, and the citizens that live here year round.”

Councilman Joe Hall pointed out that Anzivino’s presentations did not include internal employees’ “fair shot” at the city manager position.

“This is an open process and we don’t exclude anybody,” Anzivino sid. “Throughout the process as we look at candidates and if they meet the criteria, if they have shown past experience that blends what you are looking for we will consider them.  We have had internal candidates in several communities’ that have been placed in the manager’s position. If we think that candidate is the best candidate for the community that meets your criteria, and you chose that individual, that is fine with us but we have to get there.”