Assembly interviews city manager candidates

Screening committee to pick four finalists for February review; target date is March 2

Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Juneau Assembly committee spent about five hours Monday interviewing four candidates for city manager and has four more candidates scheduled for interviews today.

The interviews are being held over the phone in closed session, though Assemblyman Jeff Bush said the committee had a list of nine candidates to interview, down from an initial pool of 33 applicants.

Bush also reported that one of the nine candidates withdrew on Monday.

The screening committee will use the interviews to pick about four finalists for the full Assembly to review in-person in February. The target date for a final selection is March 2.

Current City Manager Rod Swope is scheduled to have his last day April 30. He announced in November that he would step down to avoid burnout and to take a break before finding something new to do. He's had the position since March 2003.

The city manager oversees about 700 employees and an annual core city budget of about $85 million. The city manager answers to the popularly elected officials of the Juneau Assembly.

Last week, the Assembly's Finance Committee asked Swope and Finance Director Craig Duncan to accelerate the city's budget process this year to take advantage of Swope's expertise before he leaves.

"I'd certainly like to exhaust him before he's gone," Assemblyman David Stone said.

Assemblyman Merrill Sanford agreed and also offered a quip.

"We need to work him to the bone, make him earn his pay," Sanford said.

The annual budget is usually finalized in May or June, but the committee's request means the budget could be hashed out as early as April this year.

The search for Swope's replacement began in November with job postings online and direct mailings to city managers working in similar-sized cities. The postings advertised a negotiable salary that begins at a minimum of $110,000. Swope earns $133,420.

The screening committee is made up of Jeff Bush, David Stone, Merrill Sanford and Mayor Bruce Botelho.

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