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Farmington Hills to search for new city manager

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 24, 2015

 Steve Brock

Steve Brock

FARMINGTON HILLS — Steve Brock will soon leave Farmington Hills after clocking 26 years on the job to take a bit of time for himself.


Brock, who was hired as Farmington Hills city manager 18 years ago, said he plans to retire in mid-July.


“It is not easy to leave a place you have been … for 26 years,” Brock said recently. “It has been a good fit. I really enjoyed the time here and lots of interesting people and interesting things we’ve done. (I’m) proud of them and the good work they’ve done for the city.”


Brock said he started out as the city manager’s assistant and worked his way up. He recently sent out a citywide email to discuss his plans.


“I love what I do, and it has been a great experience here,” he said.


During a June 15 City Council study session, plans to hire a new city manager were on the table.


City Attorney Steve Joppich said in an emailed statement after the meeting that he is preparing a draft resolution to appoint an acting city manager, which will be considered by the City Council at its next meeting.  


Joppich will also be working with the city’s director of human resources, John Randle, on preparing a draft process for selecting the next city manager based on the City Council’s discussion at the study session.


During the meeting, Randle presented three options to the City Council for selecting the next city manager: hiring the Michigan Municipal League to identify a candidate, using a local human resources search firm while utilizing the MML’s website to post the position, or hiring someone internally.


Randle said that with the first option, the city would obtain the widest candidate pool.


“The challenge we’ll see with utilizing the Michigan Municipal League is that it is very expensive — that is one of my cons,” he said. Hiring the MML costs roughly $15,000-$25,000.


The second option includes a quicker process for finding candidates, while also being much cheaper. A con includes using the time and resources of city human resources staff.


For the third option, Randle said he thinks the pros — it’s cost-effective, and it’s the quickest process — outweigh the cons of minimizing the City Council’s hiring choice.


“It is good for city morale for someone who knows the city,” Randle said of option three. “There is a level of familiarity with that candidate’s body of work. The city had success promoting internal candidates in the past.”


City Councilwoman Valerie Knol said she thinks there is a little less transparency in option three.


“How do you know that is the best-qualified person, and if you minimize your choices it makes it tougher to answer that, and it leads to a question of transparency,” she said. “I think that is kind of a big con that is not up there.”


City Councilman Richard Lerner said he does not support using the MML and would like the public to get involved in the process.


Creating a five-member citizen review committee, including three City Council members and two residents, was discussed. The committee would be a review panel and narrow the pool to about three candidates.


“If we really hustle, we could get this done by mid-October,” Lerner said. “It is entirely possible. That it is a four- (to) six-month process.”


Mayor Barry Brickner said Lerner outlined the ideas he gathered by talking to others.


“I got the impression that people wanted to have an open-type process,” he said. “There will be a lot of changes going on, and you don’t want to rock the boat all the way up and down the line. I got a lot of input from department heads; they are really into stability, and they let me know that. Some of them said if you pick the wrong person, we don’t know if we will be around.”