BRITT | The search for the next Britt City Administrator/Clerk is officially underway — again.
On Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Britt City Council met with Patrick Callahan, founder of Callahan Municipal Consultants LLC, during a work session to discuss its next steps to fill the position, which has been vacant since Shell Anderson resigned in October.
Callahan was hired by the city in December for expenses not to exceed $13,000 after its top candidate for the city administrator/clerk position rejected its offer.
“For a community of a little over 2,000, you really have a lot of nice amenities in this town and what I call quality-of-life features,” he said. “I don’t normally see hospitals, swimming pools and community centers … Pretty impressive town of 2,000.”
During the work session, Callahan provided an overview of the search process for the city administrator/clerk position to the council and sought its feedback on salary, benefits and the timeline.
The nearly three-month process began the week of Jan. 15 with Callahan interviewing members of the city council, city staff and local organizations to create a community and position profile that will be shared with interested candidates.
“We want to make sure the candidates have good information about your community, so they can make a good informed decision,” he said.
Once the profiles are completed, the opening will be advertised. The application deadline will be before Feb. 20, which is when the council will rank the resumes and cover letters of the candidates.
The candidates with the highest composite scores based on the council members’ rankings will move forward in the process.
“All of you together come from different backgrounds, different experiences and you bring something unique and different to the table that will be helpful to all of us,” he said. “Some of you will see things the rest of us don’t, and so the collective wisdom of all of you together is what I will trust then to make the right decision and pick the right people for semi-finalists and finalists and ultimately, the person that you hire.”
Callahan, who expressed interest in having the mayor and the council involved in every step of the search process, said candidates will have the opportunity to interact with city officials in four settings: a video or telephone interview, an informal meet-and-greet reception, a small-group interview and a formal interview.
The council is scheduled to do the video or telephone interviews on Feb. 27, and the reception, small-group interviews and the formal interviews on March 16 and 17. The council agreed, at the recommendation of Callahan, the candidates’ information will remain confidential throughout the process, which means the public likely won’t know who it’s next city administrator/clerk is until the council makes its decision.
Once the council agreed on its timeline, it was tasked with determining what it was willing to offer the next city administrator/clerk in salary and benefits.
To assist the council with the salary decision, Callahan provided it with a list of Iowa cities with populations between 1,700 and 2,600, which are comparable to Britt, and the salaries of their city administrators, managers or clerks, according to an Iowa City/County Management Association survey.
The salaries ranged from the Northwood city administrator/clerk earning $50,281 to the Rock Rapids city administrator making $83,000.
“The thing about your size cities is it’s a huge spread,” Callahan said.
The city council agreed on $50,000 to $70,000 as the salary range for the city administrator/clerk position. The previous city administrator/clerk made about $56,375.
Mayor Ryan Arndorfer said “it’s really hard to go above that” salary range.
Callahan walked the council through a laundry list of benefit options to get a consensus on what it’d be willing to offer.
The council agreed vacation time, sick leave and a moving allowance would be negotiable. The city will offer medical, dental, life and vision insurances and retirement as well as mileage reimbursement for work-related travel expenses. It also discussed a six-month severance package and performance evaluations.
Arndorfer echoed comments made in the past that it’s the expectation of the city council for the city administrator/clerk to have a Britt zip code, whether it’s within the city or on an acreage.
Since October, the council has agreed to pay three individuals to fill the position until it hires a full-time replacement, including Anderson, Deputy Clerk Darcy Eisenman and Cindy Kendall, of Marshalltown, who has been a resource for municipalities through the Iowa League of Cities and Iowa State University Extension for nearly a decade.