By BRADEN LAMMERS
The search is on.
A search committee formed by the Clarksville Town Council to help find the individual who will serve as the town’s first manager executive met in its first meeting Saturday morning.
The town council had been debating the merits of transitioning from a town to a city because it does not have a full-time manager for the town. However, instead of transitioning into a city and electing a mayor, the Clarksville City-Town Evaluation Committee recommended that Clarksville remain a town, but that the town hire a town manager “to provide full-time leadership and operational management.”
The current town executives, members of the Clarksville Town Council, work part-time.
Jim Kenney, search committee member, walked the group through a number of questions the committee will need to answer in order to help focus on, then narrow down its pool of candidates.
Among the determinations that need to be made were whether or not to hire a professional or company to assist in the search; determine the functions of a town manager; develop position description and responsibilities; determine salary range; select a behavior-assessment tool; outline the screening process and interviewing process; and figure out what, if any, would be the terms and conditions of a contract that the town may enter into with a town manger.
While the committee was formed to help determine and identify qualified candidates, the town council will make the final pick for the person to fill the position.
How the person will be chosen has become a source of contention between some of the town council members.
At an August meeting, Clarksville’s town council unanimously approved the creation of the search committee and designated Town Councilman Paul Fetter to form the committee.
After the committee was initially formed, Town Councilman Bob Popp, a Democrat, was upset with the initial makeup of the search committee and accused Fetter, a Republican, of packing the committee with Republicans.
Several appointments were changed and the committee that was ultimately formed includes four Republicans and three Democrats.
The committee members cited the need to ensure the council is aware of all steps that are made in choosing the town manager.
“We’re talking about selecting a non-elected equivalent of a mayor in Clarksville,” Gilkey said. “As a means of promoting harmonious future council sessions, I suggest that, as we develop the sub-criteria, that we bring the entire council into that process so that the council does not feel disenfranchised. The bottom line is when we get to the end of this process, the responsibility for making the selection and determination lies with the council. What we don’t want is street theater in a council meeting over the process.”
Not all of the members of the town council were present at the search committee meeting, and Fetter said he hopes it is a sign they are trusting the committees search process.
How quickly the process of hiring a town manager will move forward is uncertain.
Gilkey said it will likely not be until sometime next year that the candidate pool is narrowed down and a town manager is hired. He guessed the committee will be surprised by the number of candidates that will respond to the job posting.
“We’ve got two [applications] already, believe it or not” Fetter said.
But Fetter was a little more hopeful that the process will move more quickly and the council will be able to hire a town manager by the first of the year. He added it is something that will likely be discussed at the next meeting.
The next meeting is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.