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City reboots its search for new manager

VERGENNES — The first effort to find a replacement for soon-to-retire Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley (pictured) was not productive, Deputy Mayor and search committee chairman Jeff Fritz told his fellow aldermen at last Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The committee’s efforts resulted in one candidate, according to Fritz, and the committee decided, he said, it would be “inappropriate to move forward just one candidate.”
The council then backed Fritz’s recommendation, made on behalf of the committee, to hire the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to take over the search at a cost not to exceed $6,800. Fritz said that cost would probably be closer to $4,300, and that it would be “hugely more expensive” to contract with a private search firm.
Fritz said VLCT officials have contacts among existing Vermont managers, plus advertising contracts that should make their search more effective than the city committee’s. VLCT, he said, could “focus in on a pool of candidates we did not have an ability to reach.”
Meanwhile, council members said at the May 22 meeting they were concerned that the clock was ticking toward Hawley’s July 25 retirement date.
Fritz said the committee had discussed with VLCT officials the possibility that the league might also have to look for an interim replacement.
“VLCT is prepared to help us find an interim manager, which does help relieve the pressure. We do need a city manager in place by July 25,” Fritz said.
Council members asked how soon the search should turn toward looking for an interim, rather than a permanent solution, a question Mayor Renny Perry handled.
“If we don’t see any more traction within a few weeks or a month, then we’re in the hunt for an interim,” Perry said.

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