Kevin Dorn and Pam Mackenzie at the City Council meeting April 15.

Dorn Begins Term as Interim City Manager

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Thursday April 18, 2013

Kevin Dorn officially began his term as Interim City Manager on Monday, April 15 and was formally introduced as such at the City Council meeting that night.

Dorn’s background includes an eight year period as Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community  Development and over ten years as Executive Officer of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of  Vermont. He has also served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Essex Junction School Board as well as Clerk of the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union School Board.  These board experiences, Councilor Chris Shaw feels are quite valuable. As illustration, he pointed to School Board Chair Richard Cassidy and his acuity for managing the school district budget. “I think we are going to be rewarded by his [Dorn’s] good experience.”

During the hiring process, data points, desired characteristics and a set of  questions to ask each of the candidates were compiled by Councilors. The list of characteristics desired in an Interim City Manager included: being a strategic thinker, media savvy, good communication skills (verbal and written), having a good work ethic, flexible, even keeled, understanding, and respectful. Questions addressed behavioral, character, and situational topics, as well as experience with:  legislature, bargaining units, difficult personnel situations, dealing with the press, social media, agenda prep, Council relationships, contract negotiations, personnel administration, relationships with residents as well as peers, community involvement, and volunteering.  Also on the list were questions about how a candidate would manage in a City Manager/City Council form of government. A thorough reference check was also a requirement.

Six candidates were interviewed and the Councilors spent a Thursday evening and Saturday morning conducting interviews. The final three were followed up with reference checks. Rosanne Greco and Pat Nowak conducted checks on two and Chris Shaw and Helen Riehle conducted checks on another. They then shared their information with one another for discussion.
On April 9th, at a special Council meeting, City Council Chair Pam Mackenzie called for a motion to accept the contract for Kevin Dorn as outlined and presented. Some of the key provisions of which include the following: a 6 month term of employment beginning April 15 and ending October 18, 2013 unless a termination were to occur with or without cause. Should Dorn be terminated without cause, he would be provided a severance payment equal to two weeks’ salary within 7 business days of the date of termination. Dorn’s compensation will be based upon an annual salary of $105,000, prorated on a 52 week year.

Additionally, within the contract, a provision exists that prohibits Dorn from accepting any other offer of employment that would require him to resign as Manager prior to expiration or termination since the Council will be conducting a search for a permanent City Manager during the six month time frame (a position for which Dorn, as well is welcome to apply).

The contract was accepted in a 4:1 vote. Councilor Rosanne Greco voted against his appointment for four reasons. First, she pointed to his lack of municipal experience, especially when there were other candidates who did have experience in this area. Also, his management style which Greco gleaned both from his interview and reference checks. She said it is reminiscent of a style the community has expressed they feel is counterproductive. Third, his strong partisan ties to the development community, which Greco thinks could affect his decision making. Her final reservation for which she expressed utmost concern was his rate of pay which she felt was too high for a person who is going to be in the position short term and has no municipal experience. Helen Riehle said that although she would be voting for Dorn, she held the same concern regarding his pay. She said that it was higher than what she was comfortable with.

“I don’t think the salary is out of line,” Pat Nowak said, “Through checking his references, I found he is the kind of person who can handle any job that is put out to him. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Chair Pam Mackenzie added, “Kevin is looking forward to working with the City’s Department heads and staff as well as providing support and guidance to the City Council. I believe he will serve us well”

Kevin Dorn, in regard to his new position said, “As Interim City Manager it is not my job to come in and make major changes in programs or how our managers and staff provide services to the community.  We have a very professional and experienced staff who knows how to do their jobs.  My role is to work with the Council to provide the necessary resources to program managers, ensure that established management practices are followed and to implement the policy decisions made by the Council.
The most important thing our entire team will continue to do is move the interests of the people of South Burlington forward and provide excellent customer service.

I am very honored that the Council has chosen me for this important position and I pledge to work hard to exceed their expectations and those of the community.”  

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent