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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — With their city manager leaving in two months, City Council members said Wednesday they hope to move quickly to find a new person to fill the role.
During a special meeting, the council laid out a broad plan to move forward with a “dual process” in searching for a new city manager to replace Lon Pluckhahn, who announced a day earlier his plan to leave by early August.
The process will include the city doing its own networking and advertising to find qualified candidates, but still hiring a professional search firm to help widen the reach.
“Picture our search as one or two steps ahead of the search firm, so if they don’t yield any candidates we’re interested in, we can pull the lever much quicker,” City Human Resources Director Kirsten Fisher told the council. “Timing is of the essence.”
On Tuesday, Pluckhahn announced he would be leaving Marion for a new job as deputy city manager in Vancouver, Wash. Pluckhahn, 52, has been with Marion since 2007 and currently earns $186,068 annually.
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said having the dual process will ensure the best candidate is chosen.
“We’re not going to skip the step of having the search firm provide a pool, unless we find someone who is stellar and everyone is convinced it's the absolute best person in the search,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world that this will be a positive and productive process.”
The council also came to a consensus to pause the ongoing search for the city’s first deputy city manager, which began earlier this year, to put full focus on hiring a new city manager. The council also agreed that the new city manager should be involved in picking the No. 2
Search firm Bob Murray and Associates has been conducting the deputy city manager search for $15,000.
Pluckhahn told The Gazette the city will reach out to multiple companies to ask them to send proposals to be the search firm for the city manager hire. He said the cost of using a search firm for the position would be $25-35,000.
“We’re jumping on it,” Pluckhahn said of the timing of the process. He told the council during the meeting a process with a search firm could take 120 days.
Pluckhahn said that once there’s a better idea of the full schedule, the council could also contemplate appointing an interim city manager until a permanent one is hired.
“You could have someone functioning in the day-to-day role,” he told the council. “It wouldn’t be a big thing and projects can keep moving. My fear, in a natural disaster or something like that, you want someone who could be there full time and make decisions. For an interim, you may want to appoint someone internally.”
Moving forward, the City Council will receive updates on the search process at its regular meetings.
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