Marco Island City Council takes preliminary steps in city manager search

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
File: Marco Island City Hall.

The city of Marco Island may have recently hired an interim city manager, but the process of finding a permanent city manager is now underway.

Ken Parker, a senior advisor with the Florida City and County Management Association, will meet individually with members of the city council about what they are looking for in a manager as well as the city’s most pressing concerns.

In a memorandum to Interim City Manager David Harden and the City Council, Parker outlined the next few steps including developing a position profile, approving a calendar and establishing guidelines for reviewing applications for prospective candidates.

“The steps that he outlines are important, both to assure the public that you have an open and transparent process and that it’s not being short-circuited in some way or there is no backroom deal being made,” Harden said. “People that apply for the position feel like they are going to get a fair shake and they’re not going to be cutout because somebody comes in and strikes you at the moment of being the ideal candidate.”

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As part of getting the city back on track, the City Council hired Harden earlier this month after utilizing the FCCMA’s senior advisor program with the expectation that his employment would be short-term as it looked for a more permanent candidate.

Although the senior advisor program is technically free, the City Council has agreed to cover the travel and lodging expenses for Parker, who will be making a few trips down to Marco Island throughout the process.

Parker said it was intent to try and have the position profile completed in time for the City Council’s first meeting in February so that it can review it and possibly approve its posting.

The actual advertisement brochure is expected to be completed by mid-February, Parker said.

Parker emphasized the need for developing an accurate and up-to-date profile because it not only is used by senior advisors to evaluate the best candidates for the job, but candidates rely on information like salary range in negotiations.

“Candidates rely on the information included in the job announcement when they make a decision to apply,” Parker wrote. “That is why it is extremely important that the job announcement reflect your position.  When you deviate from the information that the candidate relied on, it damages your reputation as a City Council.”

One of the items the City Council will need to determine is when they would like to have the manager start. Parker suggested three start dates: Aug. 1, Oct. 1 and Jan. 1.

The August and January start dates coincide with the start of school semesters so it many be more attractive for candidates with school-aged children. The Oct. 1 date is the beginning of the city’s fiscal year.

As for the candidates themselves, despite some members of the City Council wishing to look at candidates for the city of Naples past opening, Parker advised that those names would not be in the mix unless the candidates apply themselves.

Parker said that would also apply to previous candidates for the Marco Island city manager position.

While some Marco Island city councilors have spoken in the past about reviewing resumes as they come in, Parker said that in Florida, candidates typically wait until the end of the process to submit their resumes before they apply.

Part of the rationale is that applications become public record and can jeopardize employment once candidates names are released.

Despite withdrawing for the Naples city manager search, Mike McNees, the former manager of the city of Melbourne, was fired after the November election ushered in new city council members.

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