Firms reviewed for Shores city manager search

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 23, 2013

Three firms are under consideration in the search for a new city manager in St. Clair Shores.

At a Jan. 14 City Council study session, members considered proposals from two national firms — The Mercer Group and Affion Public — as well as the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to conduct a national search for a new manager. Former City Manager Ben Hughes resigned in November and the city is now under the direction of acting City Manager Mike Smith.

“Really, the recruitment and selection of city managers is obviously a small market,” said Smith.

The MML would charge the city 10 percent of the position’s salary, or about $13,000, plus expenses to conduct the search; the Mercer Group’s fee would be $15,500, plus expenses not to exceed $4,000; Affion Public would charge $17,000 with expenses not exceeding $5,000. Both national firms said they would repeat the search at no additional cost if the hired manager leaves within 24 months, except for new expenses incurred.

“If the difference is $5,000, it’s for a city manager, it’s not a major issue,” said Councilman Peter Rubino.

Mayor Kip Walby said the last time the city searched for a new manager, in 2010, it did the search and vetting internally.

“When we did it last time, the recruitment was done in house,” Smith agreed. “I was the human resources director; we had a city manager in place. There’s only one of me now, and I don’t have time to commit to it.”

Smith said the benefits of using Mercer or Affion would be to get the word out to a larger pool of candidates, but the MML would be “an outstanding choice” if council members wanted to hire someone already in, or familiar with, the state of Michigan.

“Sometimes, when you bring folks from Texas and Florida,” there is a learning curve because they have to be informed “what’s Headlee, what’s Proposal A,” Smith said. 

Councilman Chris Vitale said he’d like to see the search be “as wide-ranging as possible.”

Council asked Smith to verify references on all three companies and get more information from the MML as to what communities it has conducted city-manager searches for in the past, and how many people applied for those positions from outside of Michigan. The matter is expected to be back before council sometime in February.