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Council moves toward hiring manager search consultant

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At its July 7 meeting Yellow Springs Village Council officially hired its interim Village manager and also took a first step toward hiring a consultant to help search for a new Village manager.

At the meeting Council unanimously passed a resolution hiring John Weithofer, who has been working for the Village as interim manager since former Village Manager Eric Swansen left June 18. Weithofer on Monday said he was pleased to be in Yellow Springs, which he described as a “caring community” that, while small, has big ambitions and as much activity as a much larger town.

“There’s a lot going on here,” he said, adding that his goal is to help the Village move forward with its projects and to continue to provide quality services.

The former longtime manager of Miamisburg, Weithofer has been retained on a month-by-month contract. He has previously stated that he plans to stay in Yellow Springs about six months, although he is flexible regarding the needs of the Village.

Council also unanimously requested that Weithofer draft a resolution approving the hiring of Don Vermillion to help guide Council’s search for a new Village manager. Council will vote on the resolution at its next meeting, July 21. The action took place after Vermillion gave a presentation of his qualifications and his recommendations for a manager search.

Vermillion came highly recommended by Weithofer, who said that manager searches run by Vermillion resulted in “excellent professionals” being hired in Miamisburg and Vandalia.

“This search is one of the most important tasks for Council in the next few months,” Weithofer said. “It’s important to have expertise.”

The director of public projects at the University of Dayton’s Fitz Center, Vermillion worked for 25 years as a public administrator in Miamisburg and Montgomery County, he said. He also teaches in the masters program of UD’s public administration program.

His work is underwritten by the university’s Business Research Group, Vermillion said, so that his consultation fee, which is about $10,000 for the job search, is far less than that of private search firms. A comparable search from a national firm would cost about $25,000 to $30,000, according to Weithofer.

Vermillion’s work for the Village would include placing ads in public administration journals and Web sites, helping Council clarify the sort of manager it seeks, vetting prospects and assisting with the interview process, he said. He recommended that the search take no longer than four to five months, and be concluded by October or November.

He is very comfortable with a high amount of public participation in the process, Vermillion said in response to questions from Council, and would assist them in providing opportunities for participation. Recent Village manager searches have included public forums to give villagers an opportunity to meet with, and evaluate, the top candidates.

While the Village’s last manager search was conducted by a committee of citizens and one Council member, that process was very time consuming for those involved, and professional expertise would have been helpful, according to Al Schlueter, who took part in that committeee.

Council members agreed that professional expertise at a reasonable price sounded good for the Village.

“I believe we need citizen input and also like the idea of a consultant who won’t cost an arm and a leg,” Kathryn Van der Heiden said. “This sounds like a good process all around.”

He would like to meet soon with Council to clarify expectations and process, Vermillion said, emphasizing that time is of the essence in the search process.

Other items on Council’s July 7 agenda will be covered in next week’s News.

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