Portland councilors to review 5 proposals for city manager search firm

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ACity Council subcommittee will review proposals from five search firms to find the next city manager – just one of the high-profile administrative positions and 235 municipal jobs that Portland has to fill.

The city manager search subcommittee received the proposals Feb. 24 and will individually review them. Members will score the proposals on a matrix after a March 10 committee meeting and have been instructed not to discuss their thoughts about the proposals with each other beforehand.

Portland City Hall

Samantha Chapin, purchasing and controls manager for the city, told the subcommittee members they can choose any number of the firms to bring in for interviews unless one is their clear choice.

The committee has five areas of assessment in its scoring matrix: qualifications and expertise of the firm (worth 20 percent), evaluation of the project team (20 percent), competitive fee proposal (20 percent), completeness of the proposal (25 percent), and past performance and references (15 percent). 

The firms that submitted proposals are GovHR USA, which came in with the least-expensive cost of $23,500; Baker Tilly US, $26,500; TransPro Consulting, $30,000; Inclusion Maine, $38,000, and USPRO, $52,500.

Committee members were told they could look at the proposals and make initial assessments but were discouraged from sharing their thoughts until they had a chance to review them as a group on March 10, most likely in an executive session.

Following that meeting, they will complete their assessments using the matrix. Other meetings are scheduled for March 24 and April 7.

Other councilors who are not committee members will likely be allowed to attend the closed-door interviews. The subcommittee will then make a recommendation to the City Council.

In addition to the city manager search, the subcommittee is also leading the search to replace retiring City Clerk Kathy Jones, who will leave her post on July 1.

The committee voted unanimously on a job description that will be posted March 4 on various recruiting websites. The post will have a 30-day deadline for applications but could be repeated.

The committee chose a deadline over an open hiring period that would only close when someone is hired because members want to have someone ready to take over when Jones retires.

In the past, the council’s nominations committee has handled reviewing applications for the clerk’s position. But this committee decided to take that responsibility since it was already searching to replace former City Manager Jon Jennings.

The city has had several officials either resign or announce their retirements.

Jennings was replaced on an interim basis by the city’s top lawyer, Danielle West, which led to the appointment of Associate Corporation Counsel Jennifer Thompson as interim corporation counsel.

Police Chief Frank Clark resigned at the same time Jennings did, leaving the city with an interim chief. A City Hall spokesperson said West will not name a new police chief, and instead will allow the next permanent city manager to do that. 

The city’s vacant director of human resources position was filled internally by Associate Corporation Counsel Anne Torregrosa.