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Tigard outlines ideal skills for its next city manager

TIGARD - The city has taken the next step in the search for a new city manager.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting councilors spelled out some of the qualities that they - and city stakeholders - would like to see in a candidate later this year.

During recent interviews with city staff and members of the community, councilors said that the ideal candidate for the city's top job would need to be business-friendly, have a strong background in finance and economic development and be willing to become a familiar face in the community.

'What we'd really like to see the city manager do is get the pulse of business owners,' Councilor Marc Woodard said Tuesday. 'Go out and walk and talk to people. Some people don't even know who the current city manager is.'

Unlike the mayor, which is elected by the people, the city manager is hired by the City Council, and is the city's highest job. The city manager is responsible for all of the day-to-day administrative operations of the city of staff, prepares the city's budget, and attends all City Council meetings as an advisor. He does not vote on council matters.

City Manager Craig Prosser, who quietly excused himself from the discussion, has held the job for six years. He will retire July 31.

Some suggestions were expected. Many councilors called for the candidate to have a strong finance background and interest in community development, while members of the community told Councilor Gretchen Buehner to reach out to women and minorities to fill the position, she said. Buehner also says that people want to find a city manager who can talk easily to the community without resorting to government jargon.

Mayor Craig Dirksen agreed, saying that the city needs someone who doesn't 'just speak Governmentese; (he or she) can actually speak English.'

The list of qualities will be drafted into a candidate profile, one of the first and most important steps in the hiring process. A final profile is expected in June.

'It's important that it be done right,' said Eric Middleton, managing partner of Alliance Resource Consulting, the company charged with finding candidates for the position. 'We're not in a rush to do this.'

Middleton has set out a timeline that could have a new city manager in place by August.

By July 25, Middleton said that he will present a list of candidates to the council, with final interviews in the second week of August.

Middleton has worked to fill city manager positions in about 100 cities across the country, including San Jose, Calif. His firm is currently assisting in the search for Hillsboro's new city manager.

Prosser came to the city in 1999 as finance director and was appointed interim city manager in 2005 following the resignation of then-manager Bill Monahan. He was named as the permanent city manager later that year.

The cost of the national headhunting firm cost the city a base fee of $17,000 plus an additional $8,500 in expenses.

The current city manager's salary is $138,962.28. That figure is not expected to change much for the candidates.