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Deadline for city manager applications approaches

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POLSON – After more than a year without a permanent city manager, the next step in the hiring process is on the horizon.

City planner Kyle Roberts said the city hopes to hire a manager this spring. The city manager job was posted on various websites and media outlets on Jan. 20. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 28. 

Mark Shrives who was the city’s previous permanent city manager declined to renew his contract with the city in October of 2018. Polson Police Chief Wade Nash started serving as the interim city manager shortly after Shrives left his position. 

The process for hiring a new manager was drawn out when the city commission failed to agree whether to conduct a local search for a city manager or to contract with a hiring firm to find the next person to fill the position. In November of 2019, the commission voted to bring on the hiring firm Mercer Group, Inc. to conduct the search. 

Ruth Hodges, chair of the commission-appointed City Manager Search Committee advisory board, said she and the committee met with Mercer to decide which firm to hire. Hodges said the meeting left her confident the firm could lead a successful search for the next head of city. The search committee formally recommended that the city hire a firm rather than conduct the search themselves. 

The Mercer group is based in Georgia but operates offices and conducts searches around the nation. James L. Mercer founded the group. He was a former assistant city manager with more than 40 years of experience as a management consultant. Mercer will lead the city’s search himself. 

Roberts said it was Mercer’s experience that made him the preferred candidate. “He seemed really intelligent and really capable,” Roberts said. “We were very impressed with him.” 

According to Roberts, Mercer developed the criteria for the city manager candidate by using information gathered from interviews with city staff and commissioners and the official city manager job description.

According to the job posting, the potential candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, but a master’s degree is preferred. Applicants must also have at least five years of experience in public sector administration. The posting states that the candidate hired will be paid a “market competitive” salary according to their experience and education. Former city manager Mark Shrives was making an annual salary of $87,705 when he left the position.

Listed on the application are possible qualities an applicant might posses, and the list includes experience establishing and administering a resort tax. The city has proposed a resort tax several times in the last 20 years, but voters and the commission have not supported it to date. Roberts said the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan calls for the city calls to explore the possibility of implementing a resort tax. 

Roberts said he wasn’t aware of how many applications Mercer had received but said the response to the job posting has been robust. Mercer expects to get about 40 to 60 applications for the position. 

Mercer will review the applications to determine which candidates qualify for the position immediately after the Feb. 28 deadline. He will share information about those candidates with the city commission and the city’s search committee in early March. Mercer will interview the candidates who are approved by the city commission. After the interviews, Mercer will narrow the field to about seven of the best candidates. The commission will decide which of these candidates to interview in Polson. 

According to Roberts, the commission will determine how much the public is involved in the search process. Roberts will provide the commission and the public with updates about the process at each commission meeting. 

The next Polson City Commission meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Polson City Hall. 


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