Clewiston set to choose manager in May

CLEWISTON — Finance Director Shari Howell, acting interim city manager again for the second time in six months, reported on the search for a permanent replacement in the position that’s been vacant since late November for commissioners last week.

“The city has contracted with a search firm, Colin Basinger & Associates, to locate and help hire a city manager. We have gotten to the point where we have advertised. We have gotten a project schedule from the firm that’s doing this for us, and the firm has gotten a few good applicants,” she told the commissioners at their regular meeting April 15. “They requested last week that they go out and re-advertise because they weren’t comfortable with the number that they had because some of them fall out. It’s typical. It is not going to cost any more and it has not affected the schedule. We’re still on for (the second full week of) May when we’ll have one-on-one and commission interviews,” said Ms. Howell.

Commissioner Julio Rodriguez said he’d spoken with the search firm and that “I told Colin today that ‘I want you to send the three best.’ But we need to agree on a number to bring in. He feels three (will be sufficient) … we paid this firm $25,000 and I want to take the information they give us, and that’s how I’m going to base my vote.”

Mayor Mali Gardner and the other commissioners said they would be fine with having a choice of from three to five candidates to meet and greet during the beginning of May, and noted that there will be a public reception at city hall when residents will be able to interact with the candidates. But they also said they wanted to keep an open mind.

Ms. Howell stated also that “it’s my intention to meet with staff to get prepared for budget workshops because can’t wait until June,” noting that the city government’s audit is under way as well and that the sooner they are able to get a new city manager on board, the better.

Mr. Rodriguez, Mayor Gardner and the other commissioners also said they wanted to look at additional compensation for Ms. Howell due to the extra work she has been shouldering. She said that she declined their last bonus; however, several commissioners said there would be no declining a well-deserved bonus or raise this time.

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