Update on the Search for DeKalb’s Next City Manager


The city manager, not the mayor, is the chief executive officer in DeKalb’s council-manager form of government. Ideally we should be paying as much attention to selection of the city manager as we do the mayoral election — especially these days, when the city council declines to put expiration dates on their managers’ contracts and allows the manager to spend up to $20,000 at a time without council approval.

Personal conclusions notwithstanding, there is a process in place for hiring a city manager that is supposed to let the cream rise to the top. Recently I sifted through documents obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to bring you an update.

What’s Happened so Far
Human Resources sent out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to nine recruitment firms last spring and of those that responded, council selected Vorhees Associates, LLC to provide services for $16,400. For this amount, Vorhees was to survey and interview key officials, develop a brochure and a database of potential candidates, place ads, and coordinate the interview process. It does not include travel expenses for the final panel interviews in DeKalb.

Some options and limits might grow the price tag a bit. For example, the spending limit for ads is $750 but the placements ended up costing $870 and DeKalb is responsible for the difference. Something prompted the sending of an email admonition to the Voorhees people to let the city know if overages/extras start getting close to $20,000 because council needed to vote on the expenditure before it got to that point. Still, the expected costs associated with the search fall at the lower end of a range of $15,000 to $24,000 not including candidates’ travel expenses and optional services.

The deadline for resumes was September 6. That’s the day I looked at the documents so obviously I don’t know what the final count is, but an emailed status report from mid-August had it at 16 resumes received.

What’s Next
They may tinker yet with the schedule but here are the key dates so far:

September 30: Vorhees will issue a recruitment report on a narrowed list of 10-12 candidates. By mid-October, council will further whittle the list to 4-6 final candidates.

November 1-2: Final candidates will attend interview panels and enjoy tours of the community. The panels are five teams of seven members each, representing city department heads, city commissions, NIU administrators/faculty/staff, community, and council. If I’m reading my notes correctly, the community panel will meet on November 1 and the council panel on November 2. These are open to the public as is a meet-and-greet planned for 6-8 p.m. on November 1 in council chambers, where anyone is welcome to come and mingle with the candidates.

The city council is expected to approve a new city manager by mid-November.

Below are the panel interview teams and the volunteers.

Click on the images to access larger versions.

Interview Volunteer List photo CityManagerInterviewVolunteerList_zps2f639e9f.png

Interview Teams photo CityManagerInterviewTeams_zpsc0aa03ab.png