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Firm eyed for manager search

The search for City Manager Carey Smith's successor enters a new stage this week.

Rock Hill leaders have scheduled a closed-door meeting at noon today to consider hiring an outside firm to recruit and vet candidates.

A public vote is set to follow tonight at the City Council's regular meeting, setting in motion a search that could last until the fall.

Professional firms typically charge between $20,000 and $40,000, a review of searches in other cities showed. Rock Hill would cover the cost with money from reserve funds, city officials said.

Smith, 67, announced his retirement in February after eight years as Rock Hill's top unelected official.

Mayor Doug Echols committed to reach out to the public for suggestions on what to look for in the next manager.

The council might host a public forum or ask individuals and groups to submit ideas in writing or on a Web site, Echols has said.

City attorney Paul Dillingham pledged to follow S.C. open government laws by releasing the names of no fewer than three finalists.

Smith has offered to stay on for as long as needed.

His last day is now Oct. 1 for state retirement benefit reasons, but the manager and his wife, Joan, aren't going anywhere.

The couple plans to stay in Rock Hill.

Rock Hill's city manager oversees more than 700 employees, a $164 million annual budget, an electric system and water treatment system that sells water to most of York County.

Smith's annual salary is $171,683 under a deal approved in December.