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City to hire firm to help find next city manager

The City of Minot will hire a recruiting firm to widen the pool of candidates for a new city manager.

The city has received five applications since posting the position at the end of April, but the Minot City Council voted 5-2 Monday to hire GovHR USA to conduct a broader search. The council had delayed a decision on a recruiting firm two weeks ago to give time to draft a revised job description, which council members Carrie Evans and Stephan Podrygula provided Tuesday. The council adopted the job description.

Evans said a broader search would add legitimacy to the process so even if an internal candidate is selected, there is verification that person is the best choice for the job.

Council member Mark Jantzer said there are conflicting opinions in the community about whether a broader search to find the right candidate is preferable or whether the city should look locally rather than use a recruitment process that hasn’t been terribly successful in the past.

“I think what it ultimately boils down to is whatever the pool of applicants is, we need to pick the person that we think is going to do the best job. And so having a bigger pool doesn’t necessarily exclude us from picking a local candidate,” he said. “I think approving the use of this recruiting firm will get us that broad pool of candidates.”

“If we have a pool of candidates to pick from, the cream will rise to the top, and it’ll put us in the best position as a community moving forward,” council member Paul Pitner said.

Council member Stephan Podrygula noted he considers one internal applicant to be a strong candidate.

“We’re talking about 25,000 bucks here,” he said of the cost of hiring a recruitment firm. “What I’ve struggled with is this notion of is it worth $25,000 when it looks like we’ve got a good person.”

The $25,000 is proposed to come from savings within the city manager’s department.

Human Resources Director Lisa Jundt said most applications do not meet job description qualifications. Jundt said one may meet the qualifications minimally.

“I personally think $25,000 is a bit much to pay to gamble,” council member Tom Ross said. He suggested reviewing existing candidates to see if there is one the council wants to hire. He also said the city needs to have a city manager up to speed by the next legislative session, and using a recruitment firm would push the hiring process back.

“I’ve always had heartburn about hiring outside agencies to bring in employees,” council member Lisa Olson said. “I would agree with Alderman Ross. I would like to see us interview our current applicants and make a decision there. If none of them are the right person, then I can support this in a few weeks.”

Ross and Olson voted against hiring the recruitment firm.

Podrygula said a wider pool lends credibility to the process, and for that reason, he can support hiring. He also raised the community concern that internal hiring could be perceived as an insider process and not competitive if a broader search isn’t conducted. Evans agreed.

“I think we owe it to the people of this city to give them some choices,” Evans said. “We owe it to the internal candidates if we do go with that person – that he or she has competed among a pool of candidates and has still got the job, not because of who he or she knows or is connected to or his position or her position within the city.”

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