Village Council

Village Council— Hiring manager discussed

At its Oct. 21 meeting, Village Council took a first step toward hiring a new Village manager, with a discussion during which Council members reflected on lessons learned from past hiring practices. The topic was discussion only, as the newly elected Council, which will be seated on Nov. 18, will carry out the hiring process. However, current Council members said they wish to pass on suggestions on the Village manager search process to the new Council.

Council President Judith Hempfling, who introduced the topic, stated that hiring a consultant to help with the workload has worked well. The last time Council used a consultant, Don Vermillion from the University of Dayton, was the search that culminated in the hiring of former Manager Mark Cundiff, who worked for the Village three years before leaving for a new position as manager of Sidney, Ohio.

“The search we used for Mark seemed like a good process,” Council President Judith Hempfling said. “It’s a lot of work and it helps to have a consultant.”

Cundiff was considered by many to have been an effective Village manager; when he left for the Sidney job, he stated that he was leaving because his family considered Sidney, where he had previously worked, to be its home.

Council members reviewed the steps taken in that previous process, during which Vermillion had set a calendar of four to six months for the process, advertised for the manager position in the International City Managers’ Association, or ICMA, newsletter, the Ohio City/County Management Association bulletin and other sources, and also made contacts through university and government networks. Council members then had access to all applications, although Vermillion did considerable background screening. He also sought additional information on the candidates and helped Council prepare for interviewing its finalists. Three finalists were each brought to the village for a day of interviews, including a lunch with villagers and a public forum.

The public was not involved in the process involved in the hiring of former Manager Laura Curliss, who left her position after a little more than a year after reaching a settlement with Village Council in August. While Council had initially intended to pursue the same hiring process it used for Cundiff after his resignation, it later dropped the process after Curliss, who served as interim manager, announced her interest in the job. Council’s hiring of Curliss, and the dropping of the public process, came as a surprise to many at the time.

Including the public in the hiring process is critical, Council members agreed Monday evening.

“I’ve been getting a lot of feedback recently from villagers about their lack of input” in the previous manager search process,” Council member Rick Walkey said. “It’s very personal to the village. They wish to be a part of it.”

Council members considered ways that the consultant-based process could be improved, especially in terms of casting a wider net to attract not only applicants from the world of city management but also administrators of nonprofits. A broader search process could result in attracting applicants more suited to Yellow Springs, Hempfling said.

“This is a job that requires a lot of skills, a jack-of-all-trades job,” she said. “We’re a little community but it’s a big, huge job.”

Council member Lori Askeland suggested revising the advertisement for the job, to more clearly describe the distinct characteristics of the village. Council members also stated that Interim Village Manager Kent Bristol, a longtime former manager, will play a role in helping identify appropriate applicants.

Villager Paul Abendroth suggested that Council work on presenting the village in a favorable light ­— “It’s a marriage process,” he said of hiring a new manager. “We might improve our assets.” — and Dan Reyes suggested that Council members consult with former Village managers regarding how best to find appropriate applicants.

At this point, Council members are accumulating suggestions, which are being assembled by Village Clerk Judy Kintner for the new Council. Kintner encouraged villagers to let her know if they have suggestions for the process.

Other items of Council’s Oct. 21 business, including the potential funding of the Center of Business and Education, will be included in next week’s News.

Contact: dchiddister {at} ysnews(.)com

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