Fort Pierce officials set to move forward Monday with city manager search

FORT PIERCE — The city could have a new manager in place within three months.

City Attorney Rob Schwerer said based on the pool of applicants and criteria established by the city commission, finding a replacement for David Recor, who resigned May 9, could take approximately 90 days.

Schwerer is scheduled to recommend a search firm to commissioners at their Monday night meeting.

Schwerer said he was directed by the commission to work with the city's Director of Procurement to conduct the search for firms and they narrowed down about half a dozen choices to one: Colin Baenziger & Associates.

Schwerer said he will recommend this firm to the commission because when research was done, a market survey was completed and after other cities in Florida involved in a search process were contacted, this firm's name kept coming up. He said he feels comfortable with his recommendation.

He said the commission will vote on a standard contract, which includes prices for services.

"The standard contract for those type of services, at least for that firm, is between $19,500 and $21,500," Schwerer said.

He said the firm will work directly with the commission during the initial phase of the search.

Commissioner Reggie Sessions said although the city will conduct a nationwide search, the commission also will consider local applicants, such as city employees, who want to apply.

Sessions said city officials are going to screen the applicants carefully and might even visit the cities where they are working currently.

Commissioner Tom Perona said officials are going to demand certain leadership qualities and make sure the new city manager is a good fit for the city.

"We know what we don't want," Perona said. "We know what to ask. I think we're going to be very successful in the process because every one of us has an idea of exactly who that perfect city manager will be."

On May 9, commissioners unanimously selected Public Works Director Nick Mimms as interim city manager while they conduct their search. The Ocean City, Md., council voted May 15 to hire Recor as that resort town's city manager.

Sessions said he would be happy having Mimms in the role long-term.

Mimms has the best overall picture of the city as the public works director, he said, and commissioners can watch Mimms while he is filling in to see if he has the ability to become Recor's permanent replacement.

"He's going to work for us, and we're going to see him at work," Sessions said. "What better individual in terms of screening would we have other than the interim? As far as I'm concerned, right now, he's No. 1."

During his exit interview May 11 with Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Recor said he's been helping Mimms with the transition and assured Mimms that he's only a phone call away.

"I've advised (Mimms) on the land mines and how to navigate them and what to stay away from," Recor said. "(Mimms) doesn't have the background and experience in this office, but he's a team player."

Although Perona expressed concerns about selecting Mimms just for the temporary job because Mimms already has an "enormous department that he runs so efficiently," Perona said he also sees the value of having someone in the city manager role who can advise officials during the search on the type of individual best suit to lead the city.

Perona said Mimms' input can help commission members choose someone that can take the city in the direction the commission envisions for the future.

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