City begins administrator search

Published 10:48 pm Monday, January 17, 2011

How the City of Niles will go about finding a replacement for City Administrator Terry Eull, who retires in September, was an item of debate at a city council committee of the whole meeting Monday night.

Mayor Mike McCauslin recommended the council begin by interviewing internal candidates, two of which he said are qualified and interested in the position. He said the council discussed the possibility of moving forward with one of the two of them during its most recent retreat.

“We’re in a great position in having talented people internally to fill those shoes,” he said.

Second Ward council member Dan VandenHeede said he would prefer to open the position to external candidates as well. He suggested the city look into possibly hiring the Michigan Municipal League to aid in the search.

“I’ve never felt comfortable just handing it to somebody,” VandenHeede said. “It’s important to have the process. And be transparent.”

Third Ward council member Betty Arndt agreed, adding it could look like favoritism to just interview the two internal candidates.

Bruce Williams, Fourth Ward council member, argued that time is a major factor in the process.

“We need to make a decision soon so (the new manager) can spend time with Terry before he retires,” Williams said, adding an external search would take several months — time he argued the council does not have.

McCauslin added it would take even more time for an outside hire to adjust to the community and the position.

“It would be a year or better learning curve,” he said.

Eull, who has been city administrator for 13 years, agreed that time is of the essence, especially with the budget process beginning in April.

“This year’s budget is one of the most critical the city has seen,” Eull said. “It’s imperative to have somebody ready to administer the budget right away.”

Council member Tim Skalla said it would be hard to ignore an exceptional outside candidate.

“If we have the Steve Jobs of the Midwest who wants the job, we should be open,” he said.

One thing the council seemed to agree on was to not hire a consulting firm to assist in the search, which would cost the city thousands of dollars.

The council will entertain and vote on motions on how to move forward with the process at its next meeting on Monday Jan. 24.