Huber Heights restarts city manager search after monthslong pause

HUBER HEIGHTS — After nearly two years without a permanent city manager, Huber Heights council has decided to restart the search process for the position, after a 6-month pause that was implemented due to strain among council members.

At its most recent work session last week, Huber Heights council directed clerk Tony Rodgers to reach out to Baker Tilly — the human resources firm recruited in October 2021 to lead the candidate search process — to request the firm’s hiring services begin anew in accordance with the original contract.

“We have a lot of projects rolling and I think it’s very important that we get fully staffed up and kick this process back into gear again,” Councilman Glenn Otto said during the work session.

Mayor Jeff Gore said he supports the decision to restart the search, but made clear his feelings regarding how he expects council to conduct itself this time around.

“I’m not interested, and I hope none of you are either, in repeating the mockery that was made out of this proceeding the last time,” he said, referring to the pained, months-long search process, which included accusations of obstruction, bias, and political ploys amongst members of council.

Gore has been firm in his stance that all council members should be present for a vote to appoint a city manager. In July, when council was presented an agenda item to appoint a finalist candidate to the city manager position, the absence of Councilman Ed Lyons prompted Gore to delay the resolution to appoint the candidate.

Though Lyons denied skipping the meeting to sway the vote, the issue led to Councilman Don Webb proposing a change to council attendance rules in response to the drawn-out city manager hiring process.

The proposed amendment, which appeared on a subsequent agenda and was voted down 4-3, would have deemed any council member’s absence as the submission of a “no” vote on any legislation considered during that meeting.

“The reason I asked for this to be on the agenda was to address the issue of council members missing meetings to affect the outcome of a vote,” Webb said during the July 5 work session.

Gore doubled down last week on his intent to have all council members included in any candidate appointment vote.

“I think a commitment would be in order to set the expectation that if there is a candidate on the agenda (to be voted for or against) and there is not a full council present, my recommendation will be to move that to another reading where all council members are present unless there is a majority objection by council at that particular time,” Gore said.

During the work session, Councilman Mark Campbell asked Interim City Manager Bryan Chodkowski his thoughts for council’s consideration on how to attract the best candidates.

“I believe I’ve counseled this body previously that while you are interviewing the candidates, the candidates are also interviewing you and there needs to be an opportunity for frank and direct discussion for whomever it is that you’re going to hire,” Chodkowski said, adding that he believes this dialogue is best supported when candidates are interviewed in executive session rather than in a public forum.

Chodkowski also noted that turnover is “not uncommon” in the city managing profession due largely to “politics.” He said professional managers are consistently advised by the International City/County Management Association to work under contract.

“Among the things that are within those contracts are severance packages ... (which) help managers in our profession know that them relocating their families and transitioning to a new role is worth their time, effort and energy,” he said.

According to Rodgers, the next step in the process will be for council to review, and make any updates to, the recruitment brochure used to solicit applicants, which includes candidate expectations and qualifications, education/experience requirements, and compensation/benefits information.

Council will likely discuss this at the next work session on Feb. 7, he said.

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