City Council zeroes in on city manager description

By Sean C. Morgan
Lebanon Local

The Lebanon City Council has approved recruitment materials for its city manager search.
Councilors compiled a list of key qualities they sought in a city manager during a work session held on Jan. 22. Prothman, a recruiting firm, used the list to develop a profile, a calendar and job description, which the council approved during its regular meeting Wednesday evening.
“It looked like they included most of the stuff everybody mentioned here (during the work session,” said Mayor Paul Aziz.
Among the key qualities being sought, the councilors want a city manager who is highly ethical and empathetic, who will connect with staff and make staff feel valued and bring a culture of teamwork.
The council is looking for an effective community who is even-tempered and calm in stressful situations, experienced dealing with crises and works collaboratively.
The city manager should be a natural leader willing to make tough decisions, according to the council’s list. Because Lebanon is a smaller city, the city manager will need to be more hands-on and involved; and the manager should have a broad vision as well as taking care of day-to-day operations.
The council would like the city manager to hold people accountable, with the ability to mentor and develop staff.
The city manager should also be able to keep Lebanon on its diverse economic development track.
The city manager’s focus should be to focus immediately on cultivating good staff relationships, investing heavily into the organization, and then in the community, according to the list.
The council decided that experience as a city manager is not a requirement, but at least seven years of management experience is necessary. The city manager also should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the public sector.
Prothman will announce a compensation range of $125,000 to $175,000 per year, with 95 percent of medical, vision and dental insurance paid by the city.
The approved job description remains unchanged from October 2010.
The position will be open until filled, but the first review of candidates will begin March 22, according to the profile document.
The council will meet in an executive session, which is closed to the public, on April 7 to consider applicants. The council will meet candidates during an executive session on April 21. A public meet and greet of finalists will be held at 5:30 p.m. on April 21 in the Library Community Room.
Final interviews will be held on April 22.
Gary Marks resigned following an executive session on Aug. 29 at the request of the City Council following an investigation and report that substantiated allegations of “disrespectful and abrasive conduct” and “bullying and retaliation” based on a preponderance of evidence.
Present Wednesday evening were Mayor Paul Aziz and councilors Wayne Rieskamp, Michelle Steinhebel, Jason Bolen, Karin Stauder and Robert Furlow.
In other business, the council:
♦ Approved a contract for $181,000 with Udell Engineering to complete the second part of the fifth phase of the Westside Interceptor Project, a sewer line running north-south through the west side of the city.
Udell has nearly completed designs for the first part of the project, extending the line from W. Oak Street to the area of Walker Road. The second part will extend the line from Walker Road to South Main Road.
The goal of the project is to increase capacity in the sewer system on the west side of the city.
Ron Whitlach, interim city manager, said the estimated project cost will be roughly $20 million. The city is likely to receive a $14 million loan.
With the first portion of the design nearly complete, Whitlach said, the city would like to keep moving forward.
This portion of the design is essentially a continuation of the same project, Whitlach said. Udell Engineering has completed other parts of previous phases as well, and it already has all of the data and information necessary to continue.
Typically, design will cost about 10 percent of the total project, Whitlach said, which would mean about $2 million. In this case, designs for the entire project will cost a total of $500,000 to $600,00.
Until the Westside Interceptor is complete, the city has placed some limits on new connections in the area of Vaughan Lane.
♦ Approved a new interest rate for systems development charges, which are  fees assessed on new development to help offset the impact of new construction on the city’s infrastructure – water and sewage systems, streets and other services.
Over the years, the city has financed loans for SDCs at low rates, said Finance Director Matt Apken. The city does not have dedicated software to accomplish the tax, and the amount charged in interest does not cover the costs to maintain, bill and collect on the loans.
Apken said other cities tie the rate to Bancroft Bonds, while others charge a flat amount, like Sweet Home at 10 percent. Others use the prime interest rate, which varies, plus an additional percentage.
The council approved a rate equal to the Wall Street Journal prime plus 3 percent, with the interest rate fixed at the date building permits are granted.
SDCs pay for expansions to city utilities and services based on growth. The charges are levied on new construction.