The Blue Ribbon Committee was created in order to find a new city manager.

City Manager Search Process

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Thursday April 04, 2013

Monday night’s City Council meeting contained an agenda item which involved reviewing the Blue Ribbon Committee strategy for the City Manager search. Lisa Ventriss, President of the Vermont Business Roundtable was present to discuss the draft outline of a plan to begin this process. All Councilors had received a copy of her draft and she had been actively seeking name submissions from Councilors whom they believe should comprise the search committee.

However, before a discussion ensued, Councilor Rosanne Greco wanted to address the fact that the idea for this committee and appointing Ventriss as its Chair was conceived by Chair Pam Mackenzie and not discussed with the entire Council in advance. Greco said that she would like to have a conversation on process options as a Council prior to determining which path to take.

Ventriss explained that her role was providing the Council with a guide and with everyone’s approval, would Chair the committee. Pat Nowak pointed out in looking at the draft, that it was very broad which provided room for suggestions within the timeline, recruitment, and process headings Ventriss outlined. “Maybe this is the best methodology,” Greco said “but we need to discuss the other options among the five of us. I’m looking for more inclusivity in the process.” 

Bob Rusten encouraged the Council to keep the “3 D’s” in mind: “who is going to design,who is going to do, and who is going to decide.” Pam Mackenzie explained that she thought it made sense to ask someone in the community, like Ventriss to come up with a draft as a starting point. Planning Commission member Tracey Harrington said, “If you want to encourage transparency, you need to have these conversations in open session.”

Pat Nowak then asked Ventriss to clarify her process of developing the draft and what makes her qualified to Chair a search committee. Ventriss explained her design would involve a 5-7 member committee that represents stakeholders in the community, looking at and revising the job description if necessary, and devising interview questions and filters to screen candidates. She added that she has served on many boards, is the Chair of Mercy Connections, and served on the search committees for Champlain College and UVM Presidents .

Chris Shaw noted that her background could be beneficial in terms of facilitating a national search for candidates. He feels that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns has a propensity for focusing more on Vermont candidates and could be rather “clubby” and insular. Rosanne Greco did not think that was grounds for ruling the organization out in terms of including their process in the discussion of options. 

Pam Mackenzie, after hearing all sides of the conversation, suggested a compromise. Instead of automatically working around the framework presented, Rusten and Ventriss would work together to gather process options from at least 2-3 more sources and present them to Council before one was decided upon. These could include Ventriss’ draft plan, the VLCT plan, exploring the process that was used to find and hire Police Chief Trevor Whipple (as suggested by DRB member Tim Barritt), as well as conversation with other municipalities to see what process has been most effective for them. In addition to these methodologies, Rosanne Greco also stressed the importance of gathering community input, potentially via Survey Monkey, to find out what qualities and characteristics residents are looking for in the next City Manager. The conversation and information gathering will continue as all Councilors strive to be thorough and thoughtful as the search moves forward.   

 SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent