Durango City Council may seek help from an independent hiring firm in its search for a new city manager.
Councilors directed staff Tuesday to explore what would be required of City Council, city staff and city resources to secure a search firm to hire a new city manager. Assistant City Manager Kevin Hall said staff will explore options and present its findings at a special study session scheduled for next week.
City Manager Ron LeBlanc, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, announced his retirement last month, marking the end of his almost 12-year tenure in Durango. The announcement in turn marked the start of elected leaders’ task to find a new top administrator.
The city’s founding document requires City Council appoint a manager to implement policies, direct services and make recommendations about how to maintain and improve services in Durango.
It remains unclear what City Council wants in a new city manager, where it might find one and what qualifications it may require; councilors did not make decisions at Tuesday’s study session. Councilors did suggest they need more time to explore how a search might be conducted and what to do in the interim.
LeBlanc did not give a specific retirement date when he made his announcement Aug. 20 – he said he plans to leave sometime in early 2020. His salary plus benefits in 2019 is $195,582, according to the 2019 approved city budget.
A search firm found LeBlanc in 2007 and recommended him as a candidate for the city manager position, when Bob Ledger retired after a 25-year tenure.
City Council mentioned Tuesday that it intends to invite residents to the city manager hiring process, although it is unclear what that might look like.
“At what point do you bring in public engagement and input?” City Councilor Barbara Noseworthy said. “I wanted to raise that and make certain it’s on our minds.”
The Council also did not make a decision about what to do about interim leadership. But there are plenty of options: A current staff member could temporarily fill the position; a team of staff members could divide the work; or the City Council could seek support from outside existing staff.
City Councilor Chris Bettin said the city has “great assistant managers” who are familiar with how the city operates. He suggested by phone that the council could “utilize their services to get through the gap.”
Mayor Melissa Youssef said she and her fellow councilors “obviously have more conversations to have” to refine details about what they want out of a top administrator.
“It’s really important that we start getting clarity for staff and the community,” Youssef said.