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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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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