Battle Ground ramping up search for new city manager

The interim city manager says she’s interested in taking over the job full-time

BATTLE GROUND — The process of hiring a new city manager in Battle Ground should kick off in earnest soon.

Battle Ground City Council considers options on whether to hire an outside firm to find a new city manager. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground City Council considers options on whether to hire an outside firm to find a new city manager. Photo by Chris Brown

 

Last October, Jeff Swanson suddenly stepped down as the city’s manager after just two-and-a-half years on the job. The only reason given was that he wanted to pursue other opportunities.

 

That resignation came at the height of the city’s community visioning process. Community Development Director Erin Erdman stepped in to fill Swanson’s shoes, in addition to her own duties.

 

At Monday’s city council meeting, staff presented several options for moving forward with the recruitment process for a new city manager. That included looking into three different outside recruitment firms.

 

However, City Attorney Christine Hayes says they discovered the cost could go as high as $40,000 for those services.

 

“The overall impression we got is that, largely, we’re paying for their contacts and their ability to advertise in a wide variety of locations,” Hayes told the council. “But staff would still be doing a rather significant part of the recruitment.”

 

Hayes added that most recruitment companies charge a base fee, and then extra for things like printing and setting up interviews.

 

“It’s our understanding that these companies tend to ask for staff assistance with that anyway, despite the flat fee that’s been paid,” she said.

 

While no final decision was made Monday, staff said their recommendation was to do an in-house recruitment, similar to the process that netted them Swanson in 2016.

 

“I think we have a competent and capable staff to help us,” agreed Councilor Brian Munson. “To add a little emotion behind it, listening to our interim city manager and our attorney and the way one of these companies talked to our staff, I don’t have any interest in the future dealing with them either.”

 

Munson added that, if Battle Ground were a major city with a budget in the tens of millions or billions of dollars, he could understand spending the money to bring in an outside firm.

 

“I have the belief in our staff, and in us, to not have to spend $40,000 to get their list of who they think is a better fit for us,” Munson told the council. “Because I honestly think we know who the better fit for us is more than they do.”

 

Erdman says she has an interest in moving into the city manager role full time, and would be applying for the job.

 

The council will return at their Jan. 22 meeting to make a final decision on how to proceed with recruitment, and what they expect the timeline to be.

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