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Consultants meet with stakeholders in city manager search

New city manager could see $200,000 salary

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Executive recruiter Pamela Derby of CPS HR Consulting admitted that in order to attract a qualified candidate of high caliber, the city of Columbia may have to be willing to offer a salary of around $200,000.

The number came out in a meeting with the Finance Advisory and Audit Committee. Member Maria Oropallo inquired as to whether a higher salary was something consultants were looking at in order to entice candidates.

Derby said they have brought that up to other stakeholder groups, including the Columbia City Council.

"We do think it's important for the community to be aware," she said. "That old adage is actually true: you get what you pay for."

Oropallo and the rest of the committee agreed that that salary felt manageable.

"We have been very active in reviewing revenue sources and we've been very active in reviewing how we do our budgets," she said. "We're going to be interested in knowing that we are able to sustain that type of salary. I think our desire is for someone of that caliber. I have confidence that we can afford it."

The committee also brought the traits and abilities they'd like to see in a city manager forward to Derby as well. 

They said they'd like to see someone who has a flexible heart and mind for when it comes to dealing with Columbia's active citizenry.

"I think understanding and working with a diverse group of citizens is important to a large group of the community," said member Lisa Evans. "Being empathetic, and then being able to balance that with the needs of the budget and financial constraints."

Derby said representatives from the University of Missouri have suggested the new city manager come from a college town simliar to Columbia.

The committee agreed that it couldn't hurt, but wasn't a necessity for them.

"I would probably not put that as a criterian, but maybe it would be something that could be looked at, the experience they had in a college town," said Diane Suhler.

The new city manager would also have to come from a full service city, Derby said. They'd have to be able to deal with things like the city-run utilities, trash, tranist and airport.

Derby said they'd been hearing prevelant themes during their other meetings with stakeholders about certain traits. She said the ones brought up often were someone who has financial accumen, excellent communication skills, and someone who is transparent.

"There's a feeling that that suffered just a bit recently," she said.

She also assured committee members that the recent administrative turmoil the city has faced won't turn away potential candidates.

"While there's been some negative media, there's nothing that is happening here that's not something that somebody can deal with," Derby said. "People are not up and arms about the interim (city manager), things are going well, so that really helps."

They are looking to make an offer to one candidate by mid-May, and have that person begin the job on July 1.

The consultants are in Columbia for the rest of the week meeting with more stakeholder groups and the public.

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