Monday, February 19, 2018

Kilgore talks city manager search

By Richard Yeakley
Nov. 24, 2014 at 11 p.m.

KILGORE - The Kilgore City Council will contract with a headhunting firm to conduct its search for a new city manager.

And, either a former city manager or the police chief is likely to be tapped to run the city until the position can be filled.

Council members met Monday for the first time since City Manager Scott Sellers announced he plans to leave Kilgore at the end of the year to take the head post in the booming central Texas city of Kyle.

"Three of us have been through this painful, drawn out process once. At that point in time we did have an interim city manager," Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said. "I did take the liberty of calling the firm that did our last search for us. I think on the whole that we were extremely happy with their work."

Council members agreed to contract with Ron Holifield and Strategic Government Resources to help cull a list of applicants for the position.

Spradlin said Strategic Government Resources' rates have gone up about 50 percent from when the council used them three years ago to hire Sellers, but that the city would be given the same deal as the 2011 search.

That search cost the city less than $20,000, Spradlin said.

Holifield would likely interview Councilwomen Lori Weatherford and Merlyn Holmes to determine what they are looking for in a city manager. He did the same procedure with the other council members during the search for Sellers.

Weatherford said she would like an experienced city manager who is also innovative.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could find somebody with the long-term experience of having dealt with cities like ours but also had the innovation that the younger guys bring to it," she said. "Not all of us old people are not innovative; some of us like to have good ideas."

She added that Kilgore residents should be heard during the search process.

"We might actually have some really good input, something we haven't thought about if we offer that opportunity," she said.

Council members also spent time discussing whether an interim city manager was needed, and if so, who should temporarily serve the city.

Holmes and Councilman Neil Barr both voiced strong support for naming Police Chief Todd Hunter to the post.

"What about Chief Hunter, I think he would be great," Barr said.

Hunter has helped oversee the city when Sellers has been absent due to personal days or traveling for business.

Hunter said he would be willing to fill the role if asked.

"I spoke with Scott some time back, and I would like to see a smooth transition," Hunter said. "I know people here; I would be willing to serve if you want me to."

Spradlin and Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon said Hunter would do a fine job, but wouldn't want to assign him the added responsibility if the search was scheduled to take a long time.

McClendon said if the search will take a month or two, he is comfortable with Hunter filling the role, but if it will take closer to four or five months, he would rather put someone else in the role.

"I don't want to stretch it," he said. "Things are so smooth at the police department. I don't want to create any problems there; we are going to have enough transition."

If the search went on longer, Spradlin suggested appointing Tony Williams, who served as the city manager prior to 2004 and served as interim city manager during the search for Sellers.

Spradlin said he had checked with Williams and Williams had said he was willing to fill the post if asked.



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