The role of city manager is an important one. From overseeing departments and employees to crafting budgets, addressing citizens’ needs, serving as the city’s spokesperson and advising city commissioners—the person who holds this job performs many critical tasks.
Finding the right candidate for a position like this isn’t easy or simple so, to that end, it’s surprising to see the hurried pace employed by the Imlay City Commission to find a new leader.
Current manager Tom Youatt will step down from the post he’s had since 2014 at the end of this month. Citing financial concerns, commissioners opted to not utilize a search firm to identify and attract potential candidates and that’s certainly understandable considering the financial constraints they and all municipalities are currently facing. Several members felt that employing an interim manager was not financially feasible either.
The commission opted to post the job via the Michigan Municipal League’s website on May 22. The posting gives no closing date and indicates the help wanted ad—all three pages of it—remains viable until the position is filled. It appeared that the commission had plans to take the usual, measured pace to find a new manager.
But, in a rather surprising move, the elected board’s personnel committee opted to move on to the interview process just last week and opted to only summon one of three candidates to answer their questions. In that same meeting, the commission as a whole gave their okay to start negotiating a contract with that candidate, Craig Horton.
This hiring process is quite abbreviated in comparison to what the city has done in the past, and at least two commissioners voiced their concerns about the pace of search.
We don’t doubt Horton’s ability to lead the city but for the sake of Imlay City residents, the commission should do more to be transparent in the hiring process going forward.