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Columbia city manager search firm interviews pushed back to January

The upcoming holiday season will change the Columbia City Council’s timeline in hiring a search firm to help find the next city manager, but the group still hopes to finalize a contract in early January.

The council discussed its next steps in hiring the firm at a pre-council work session on Monday night. The seven council members will rank their top picks for the job this week. The top three or four choices out of the nine companies that submitted bids will come to Columbia for an interview with the council on January 3.

The council originally planned to interview finalists this week, and approve a contract with one firm at its Jan. 7 meeting. Human resources director Margrace Buckler and purchasing agent Cale Turner said the holiday season would complicate the firms’ ability to make in-person visits to Columbia for the interviews.

Council members said they still hope to have a contract drafted and available for the January 7 meeting. The group will hold a four-hour, closed session on January 3 to interview the finalists.

Buckler said that many of the firms’ bids came in around the same price – somewhere in the low to mid-20,000 dollar range. One firm, EFL Strategies, was closer to $80,000, and another firm did not have a clear price stated.

Mayor Brian Treece said he was interested in asking finalists how it would take input from several different groups in recruiting the next city manager. That includes each city council member, city employees and other advocacy groups active in local government.

“I was a little skeptical at first, but I think a search firm is going to help us capture all of that input on the front end, and then once they help identify potential candidates or recruit potential candidates, really look at the one with the best skill set and experience that meets those attributes,” Treece said.

Treece said he was also looking for a firm with experience in Missouri and working with a city of about the same size as Columbia.

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