← Back to portfolio

Wellington City Council, June 2016: hiring a city manager

Published on 30th July 2016 After another 30-minute executive session Monday evening, the Wellington City Council has still not named an interim  city manager to replace Roy Eckert, who was dismissed recently.
Last week after the regular meeting the council talked about naming an interim for 30 minutes,  but then adjourned and decided to try again Monday. There is the possibility they will not have an interim director.
Before going into executive session Monday councilman Vince Wetta asked two city department heads, Shane Shields and Jason Newberry, what their thoughts were on having an interim manager. Those two would be prime candidates to be in that position, and at least one may apply for the city manager job.
Both said they said they believed someone should be appointed as the interim.
Newberry said he and Shields had talked about the situation, and they both plan to do their jobs  regardless of who is selected as the interim.
Shields said it would not be a problem to do his current job of finance director and be the interim city manager at the same time which he did in 2014 the last time the city was in this position.
Currently Newberry is running the day to day operations and Shields is taking care of the financial aspects. Newberry said it would be good to have someone in charge for things that come up from time to time.
Also at the worksession Monday The city council heard from Anna-Marie Keena with the state League of Municipalities, who told the council her organization has a program to help cities find a city manager.
At a cost of just over $5,000 the league could do the recruiting and initial screening, and help the city through the process.
She said the city would still set the time line and criteria.
She said the league would review all the applicants and would pick the top ones for the city to consider, and the city could choose the last few finalists from there. Council members would still have access to all the resumes submitted.
The cost for the service wold be $5,280, which she said was a discounted rate since the city is a member.
She would give each council member a survey to fill out to find out exactly what they want, and she would compile that information and use that in the search.
She recommended using Skype for the first interview before finalists are chosen to bring in for personal interviews.
Keena said the process usually takes about three months, but the city could set any time line it likes. She said she is not a headhunter, but would market the city to potential candidates.
The last time the city did this was 2014 an they had 54 initial applicants.
The agreement would be a year long contract, so if the council did not find a candidate it liked amond the initial candidates, it could begin again.
She said it would take some the load off the staff, and council members, by taking care of the marketing and initial screening.
She said Wellington would be attractive to someone wanting to build their career. Since it offers a lot of services, it would be a place that would give a city manager a lot of good experience.
They could also involve other people in the secondary interviews, and let the public meet the finalists if they chose to.

The council also heard a preliminary report on the budget for the coming year. They will have to have the budget done by August 1, to meet legal deadlines.
The council will have a special worksession on the budget at 5:30 p.m. June 27.

JUNE 27 Meeting
The Wellington City Council appointed Shane Shields as its interim city manager at its meeting Tuesday night. Shields is the city's finance director and served as the interim a couple of years ago when the city was searching for a city manager.
After 45 minutes in executive session the unanimous vote was taken. The city has had a couple of  executive sessions to discuss its direction  after deciding to  dismiss Roy Eckert about a month ago.
Also Tuesday the city decided to hire the Kansas League of Municipalities to do its search for a city manager at a cost of just over $5,000.
At the last meeting a representative of the league met with the council and told them how they could run the campaign for them. The league will advertise for applications, and then narrow that down for the city. The city will still set the parameters as far as how many to narrow it down to and how long the process will take.
Most likely it will be narrowed to a dozen or so before a few finalists are named. 
Shane was appointed interim director “until further notice,” with no timetable set.
He was a candidate last time, but withdrew during the process. He may be a candidate this time.
Mayor Shelley Hansel said she thought it was a good idea to take advantage of the services being offered by the league of municipalities.
She said since there may be one or more internal candidates, it might be better for an outside entity to run the process.
After a motion by Kip Etter to hire the league, the matter passed 5-1, with Jim Valentine voting against the measure.

In other matters Tuesday:

Plans for Wheatfest are continuing. The picnic in the  Park event is going to be put on by city employees after the Lions Club was unable to this year. The employees decided to do this on their own, and will do it as a fundraiser. They have not yet decided what the cause will be.
Button sales are continuing, and 2,300 of them were sold as of Tuesday. The buttons are used for admission for most festival events and are $3.
The first clue in the medallion hunt will be released at 6:30 a.m., Monday, in front of the auditorium.
Also it was announced the city fireworks display will be held after darkness falls on July 3, following the Wellington Heat game. The game starts at 7, and after the game the stadium will be opened to the public for the fireworks.

Council member Bill Butts gave an update on the CGDG block grant application. Some city officials, Butts and Mayor Shelley Hansel made a presentation last week in Hays as part of the application process. The city started the process several months ago, and set up a group that too an inventory of the entire city housing. The city could get money to develop, or fix, houses of low income people in the city.
He said the city was invited to continue its application process after the presentation. The city should find out in October if it will get the grant of more than $300,000. Even if not, the city can still apply each year. Butts said the things learned during the process were valuable, and that will make it worthwhile either way.
There will be some town hall meetings at some point to educate the public about the program, as well as how one would go about applying. If the city gets the grant people would have to apply, which is how houses would be chosen for the project.

Council member Jan Korte updated the council on the hospital. She said collections were  $690,000, and they seem to be down some in June. That is to be expected as things are slower in the summer.

The raw water issue will be talked about at the worksession meeting next Monday.  The city installed a backflow prevention device last week. Jason Newberry told the council this would keep treated water from getting in contact with untreated water. The city is still supplying bottled water to the few residents still receiving bottled water from the city.
The city is currently in compliance with KDHE directives, but still has some issues that will involve a permanent solution.
This came up when the state, following federal rulings, said the city could not allow customers to tap on to untreated water for home use. Residents in the Mayfield area had been doing so for decades in a deal with the city, as the city has wells on their property.

The city appointed Stacy Davis to the planning commission, to replace Gerald Gilkey who had resigned. She was the only applicant. The term runs through April 30, 2020.

The city passed a resolution to purchase transformers from the Kriz-Davis company of Des Moines, Iowa, for $50,695.90. The purchase had been budgeted. They received four bids and all were below  what had been budgeted.

The council has a worksession net Monday to discuss the budget, starting at 5:30.  Department heads will be there to talk about their budgets. The raw water issue will also be discussed.