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Polson to consider alternative routes for hiring city manager

POLSON — The city of Polson is ready to start the hiring process for a new city manager, but the city will not be contracting with the same recruiting firm they used to hire their last city manager.

The commission voted five to one not to contract with the consulting firm Prothman, which led the hiring process that landed former city manager Mark Shrives in his position in 2013. Shrives declined to renew his contract, and left his position with the city on Oct. 29. Police Chief Wade Nash is currently acting as interim city manager.

City Finance Manager Cindy Dooley proposed contracting with Prothman at the commission’s regular meeting on Nov. 26. According to Prothman’s website, the company is “a consulting firm that specializes in providing national and regional executive recruitment services” for governmental agencies and nonprofits in the United States. Dooley said the city paid $23,568 for the hiring process in 2013 and estimated the figure would be higher if the city contracted with the company again. 

In addition to being on city staff, Dooley was involved in the hiring process as a member of a hiring committee comprised of residents of Polson. She said the process was, “professional, organized and non-biased.”

Commissioner Stephen Turner raised concerns about the cost of the service. “Can we be a headhunter ourselves?” he asked. Commissioner Jan Howlett replied that a search conducted by the city would not reach as broad an audience as one headed by a recruiter.

Members of the public expressed displeasure with the city paying a high cost for a process that had yielded an “unpopular” city manager in the past. “In my book, it failed bad, so why do it again?” one member of the public asked.

Four community members who spoke at the meeting urged the commission to consider local candidates. 

The commissioners decided to consider other recruiting companies and reach out to the city of Helena, which is in the final stages of the hiring process for a city manager. Commissioner Brodie Moll was the sole commissioner to vote in favor of contracting with Prothman.

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