Rochester City Council selects search firm to find new city manager

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 8, 2022


ROCHESTER — The city of Rochester is on the hunt for a new city manager.

In May, the Rochester City Council unanimously agreed to hire GovHR USA to assist in finding a new city manager at a cost of approximately $8,000, plus around $2,500 in advertising expenses.

“I think it’s a pretty reasonable price,” said Mayor Stuart Bikson.

Former Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino, now the vice president of GovHR and the owner of Vettraino Consulting, is facilitating the search.

Interim City Manager Nik Banda said Vettranio’s knowledge of the community — where he and his family still reside — his role as former Rochester city manager, and his experience in best practices from around the state in conducting searches and implementing a smooth transition will be “invaluable.”

“We know how important it is to the staff for continuity, so we’re putting the pieces together on the team that is going to withstand whoever is going to be the next leader from the administration side of this town. I’m feeling really good about that,” Banda added. “We think we can go out and fill this void now and top it off so we can just roll to the future.”

The council also has the option of hiring Vettraino, of Vettraino Consulting, as a consultant for $130 per hour to handle anything not included in the contract with GovHR USA.

“In the interim process, if there was something we felt we needed his help on or to help with the transition of the new city manager then we would hire him personally through his own consulting firm, on a consulting basis,” Bikson said.

At press time, the position had already been announced, and Vettraino said the executive search ads were placed nationally June 6. The ad and solicitation period was slated to close July 12.

“If the timeline gets pushed a little bit, we’re OK with that,” Bikson said.

Through July, Vettranio said, he plans to talk to the City Council and administrators about their most desired traits in a new leader.

Bikson was on the City Council when it went through the executive search process to hire Vettraino as city manager in 2008, and again when the city hired Blaine Wing for the position in 2015. Wing resigned May 4.

“This is now my third one of these,” said Bikson of the search process. “It’s never a convenient time to change city managers.”

Attracting candidates with good communication and leadership skills is very important to Bikson this time around.

“I think a city manager should have financial skills, some kind of engineering experience, and the person needs to be a leader and needs to have a vision for the city — working with the City Council — and needs to be able to lead the city employees,” he said. “(Having) a leader who can work with council, work with outside people, work with residents and work with employees is a big thing — and I think it always has been,” he said.

Vettraino said he will have a list of recommended candidates, along with the overall list of all who applied, to the City Council within a week of the solicitation process closing July 12. The City Council will then select finalist candidates to interview later this summer.

Bikson said the city manager position is “a desirable job.”

“Because we’re such a good community, we think it is a very desirable job,” he said. “The City Council is solid, there’s not a lot of turnover in the position and it’s a great community, so we think we have a lot to attract, but at the same time, we realize everybody is having issues hiring people.”

The city, he added, hopes to have a new city manager selected as soon as possible.

“We’re looking for the best candidate as soon as possible, but we want to get the right candidate. We don’t do this very often in Rochester, so we want to make the right choice,” Bikson said. “It’s a process, and we’re trying to do it professionally and we’re trying to be open to anybody who we think can lead our city.”

In the meantime, Banda said, he will postpone his retirement as long as needed until a replacement is selected.

“I’m not running anywhere quick, because this is really important for me. I want to end my career knowing that the next person — he or she — sitting in this seat is going to be the right person for a long time,” he said. “You can’t predict the future, but in a town like this, you should be able to stay here five or 10 years and still be challenged every day of your job here.”

For more information, call the city of Rochester at (248) 733-3700.