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Council will hire consulting firm to find new city manager

On Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved hiring a consulting firm to find a new city manager.

The Request for Proposals was first discussed in June at a city council subcommittee meeting. Hiring a consultant would shift the responsibility of soliciting candidates.

The council previously had taken on the job and accepted 84 applications in May and June. Council members narrowed the candidates to about a dozen and announced they would soon introduce the applicants to the public and seek input. But they then took a second look at hiring a consultant to perform the work.

The firm will start the process over from scratch. The applicants who already applied will be tossed and the firm will complete its own process for soliciting candidates. The RFP will extend the amount of time it takes to fill the city manager position, which is currently being held on an interim basis by police chief Brian Wilson.

The council initially stated it desired to hire a new manager by summer’s end. Instead, the council and residents may not see a new leader until February 2010. The public will still have a say in the selection process and a citizen committee will be formed. But candidates are not expected to be introduced until late fall.

The city council parted ways with former city manager Neal Beets on May 5 after telling Beets it did not wish to renew his contract, which was scheduled for review this month. Beets requested to be let go early so he could pursue other job options.

A separation agreement awarded him six months of severance pay, roughly $76,014, on top of compensation through July. This amounts to roughly $114,021, not including benefits he received.

Beets was hired with the assistance of a consulting firm in 2006. He came to Federal Way from Minnesota.

Timeline

Here’s preliminary look at the city council’s timeline for hiring a new city manager:

July: The city will issue a request for proposals promptly and select a search firm July 29.

August: The firm’s contract will be negotiated. Community stakeholders will be identified to work with the consultant to identify a profile that the new city manager will ultimately fit.

September: The city council will approve the city manager profile.

October: Candidates will be recruited for roughly a month.

November: The firm will screen the applicants and recommend finalists.

December: A final selection process will commence. Interviews and community forums are expected. One candidate will be selected with help from the city council, public and stakeholder team. A background check will be conducted and an offer for employment will be extended. A contract for the new city manager will be negotiated.

February or sooner: The candidate will begin in his or her position in Federal Way.

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