Morrisville restarts town manager search

aramos@newsobserver.comJune 3, 2013 

— Two months after announcing five semi-finalists for the town manager position, the Morrisville Town Council is going back to the drawing board.

The town has restarted its search for a town manager and is accepting applications until June 19. Citing state laws regarding confidential closed-door meetings, council members are saying littleabout why they are looking for a new pool of applicants.

“We’ve had closed-session discussions on personnel,” said Mayor Jackie Holcombe. “The job has been reposted.”

Originally, the Town Council expected the hiring process to take about three to four months, with a candidate selected in April, according to minutes from meetings and statements from officials.

The timeline appeared to be on track through March 15, when the town released a statement that officials had whittled down the pool of 111 applicants to five semi-finalists, whose names were not released.

Final interviews for up to three finalists were expected to take place by April 6.

But the council has spent the past few weeks deliberating, without coming to a final decision.

The town released a statement May 20 about the status of the hiring process.

“By unanimous consensus, the Council is continuing the process, and is taking their responsibility very seriously toward the best possible outcome,” according to the statement.

Councilman Mark Stohlman said he’s hopeful that this time around the council will find the right candidate.

“I’m glad we’re not rushing a decision,” he said. “It’s just too important.”

The town hired Durham-based consultants Developmental Associates to conduct the search for a manager, who will oversee Morrisville’s day-to-day operations. Morrisville has spent about $20,000 of the $22,600 maximum amount agreed to in the firm’s contract, said Lauri Shedlick, the town’s human resources director.

The new search is expected to cost an additional $1,500 to $2,000 to advertise the job and test candidates, said Stephen Straus, president of Developmental Associates.

It’s not common for municipalities to restart their hiring search, but it does happen, said Straus, who has about 25 years of experience in job recruiting and placement.

“On occasion, there’s not a consensus,” he said. “I think the key is the council wants to come to a consensus. I think it’s admirable that it’s important for the council to have a new town manager come in with the full support of the council.”

Former manager John Whitson left the post in December for a job in Texas to be closer to his family. Strauss said he’s already heard from several candidates for the job since it was reposted.

“It’s still an attractive position,” he said.

The town is looking for someone with at least five years of professional experience in municipal management.

“We have not found the right town manager for the town of Morrisville yet,” said Councilwoman Liz Johnson. “We have very high expectations. We are looking for the best for Morrisville.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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