The search for York County manager has been in progress since Jim Baker left the post in January to take a higher-paying position in Chesapeake, Va.
Nine remaining applicants will be further vetted by a Dallas-based firm, which was hired recently after another company failed to impress county council members in late April.
The council first hired another Texas-based firm, Strategic Government Resources, in February, but fired the company two months later in a closed-door meeting.
Council Chairman Britt Blackwell cited dissatisfaction with the 30 candidates provided by the firm.
“With the first applicant pool, I felt like there were only three or two (people) that we could even interview,” Blackwell said after a closed-door meeting Tuesday. “We realized we made a mistake.”
The council terminated its contract with the company within hours of reviewing candidates.
The council’s short-lived contract with Strategic Government Resources cost $10,000. The current contract with the Waters Consulting Group Inc. cost an additional $21,500. The Waters group was recently hired to conduct the search for Charlotte’s new city manager at the cost of more than $23,500 in December.
Andrea Battle Sims, a senior consultant with the Waters group who presented more than 40 candidates to the council, said the firm focused on finding candidates with city and county experience. She said the current candidates hail primarily from the Southeast, with some South Carolinians in the mix.
“Everybody’s a lot happier,” Blackwell said of the current applicant pool. He said the council hopes to decide on three to five finalists soon and conduct a meet-and-greet with the community before choosing a manager by mid-August.
At the time of his departure in January, Baker said several issues with the council had factored into his decision to leave, including a lack of cooperation between council members and staff, as well as the council’s inability to address the county’s long-existing problems.
Blackwell acknowledged that some county projects have been in the works since 2006 and that a strong manager will be a team player who can handle large projects in a fiscally conservative manner.
Since Baker vacated the position, Assistant County Manager Anna Moore has served as interim county manager. Blackwell said Moore’s experience in both positions will help provide a smooth transition for the new manager.
Regarding a pay raise for the position, Blackwell said, “We all agree that we pay a person what they’re worth. If they’re worth it, we won’t have any problem paying them.” The salary for the last manager was $170,000.
Blackwell said the council was taking the search seriously. “This is one of the most important jobs we do – this will shape the future of the county.”