MADEIRA BEACH — Hoping the third try will be the charm, last week the City Commission set a goal of early December to hire a new city manager.
The commission tried to find a new manager on its own, offering the job to two candidates. Both rejected the offers during contract negotiations.
Now city leaders have hired a national executive recruiting firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates, which is based in Wellington.
Since 1998, the firm has conducted more than 100 successful manager searches, mostly in Florida, including the cities of Gulfport, Bartow, Daytona Beach, Gainesville, Coral Gables, Cape Canaveral, Homestead and Key Biscayne, as well as Polk, Brevard, Flagler, Baker, Bay, Clay and St. Johns counties.
Two-thirds of the selected candidates are still working for the governments that hired them, according to the company.
The firm is charging the city $20,000 to conduct a search that includes recruiting and screening candidates, and coordinating the interview, selection and contract negotiations. Additional services, if requested, would cost the city $125 an hour.
The recruiters plan to accept applications through Oct. 21, begin screening candidates the next day and report back to the commission Oct. 25.
A list of semifinalists will be given to the commission on Nov. 7, including initial background checks.
The selected finalists, possibly five candidates plus an alternate, and their spouses are to attend a city-sponsored public reception Nov. 14 and be interviewed one on one by the commission Nov. 15.
The commission is to select the preferred candidate a week later at the Nov. 22 meeting and begin contract negotiations.
If everything proceeds on schedule, the commission plans to approve that contract at its Dec. 7 meeting.
In a major change in how the city is run, the new manager will wear two hats: city manager and public works director.
The two people who previously filled those roles, W.D. Higginbotham Jr. and Mike Maxemow, no longer work for the city.
Higginbotham left in February when he successfully requested that the commission fire him. He is now president of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce.
Maxemow resigned just before the city eliminated his job of 30-plus years in a major administrative restructuring. He is now operations manager for St. Pete Beach.
On Friday, Human Resources Director Deborah Cline lost her job as well, as the city's new budget took effect.
Her departure marked the loss of six top Madeira Beach administrators and a city attorney since the beginning of the year.
Others who chose to leave the city for often better positions in other government posts include Paula Cohen (community development director), Denise Schlegel (city clerk) and Monica Mitchell (finance director).
Attorney Michael Connolly was fired by a commission angered over his handling of Higginbotham's departure.
Fire Chief Bill Mallory is serving as the city's interim city manager.