A ‘No. 1 candidate’ emerges in city administrator search

Board approves first reading of measure to set tax rates.

By EVAN YOUNG

Crestwood Mayor Jeff Schlink told the Board of Aldermen last week he’s hoping to recommend a candidate for the city administrator post before the end of the month.

Schlink also said a “No. 1 candidate” has “bubbled to the surface” in the pool of applicants.

The city is searching for a city administrator to replace Jim Eckrich, whose request to return to his former position of public services director was granted by the Board of Aldermen in April.

Aldermen voted 5-3 April 12 to name Eckrich public services director, a position he previously held from November 2005 until July 2008, when he was promoted to city administrator.

Eckrich has continued to serve as acting city administrator until his successor is hired.

Despite some delay, Schlink said last week that date will be soon.

“We are to the stage where I’m hoping that … the board will see a recommendation for city administrator before the end of the month of September,” he told aldermen at their regular meeting Sept. 13.

The opening was posted in May. Schlink said at the time the job description was tweaked to incorporate more language from the Crestwood Charter and to interest potential applicants with business backgrounds.

The mayor told the board he and Eckrich screened applications and conducted phone interviews with candidates, and a “handful” of applicants came in for follow-up interviews. Eckrich was involved at the outset in case questions arose regarding city policy or history but “left the process” once phone interviews were conducted, Schlink said.

Schlink said department heads initially were to be involved in the process because he was “under the expectation that we would see a large number of qualified candidates apply for the position.”

“At the end of the day, we had a smaller number than what I expected to see,” he said. “And I was going to leverage the department heads to kind of get over that hump of trying to segregate out who may be that No. 1 candidate. At the end of the day, to me there was a clear, No. 1 candidate and so I did not bring the department heads back in to try to get over that hump to try to get to that single candidate that I thought would be good for the city of Crestwood.”

He said department heads will be able to provide input but noted the mayor, per the city Charter, ultimately recommends a candidate to the board for approval.

Aldermen will have the opportunity to ask that candidate questions, “and more than likely it would be in a public session …,” Schlink said.

In unrelated business last week, the board voted unanimously to approve the first reading of an ordinance setting Crestwood’s 2011 property tax rates.

The proposed rates, per $100 of assessed valuation, are:

• Residential: 24.1 cents, up from 22.8 cents in 2010.

• Commercial: 35.9 cents, a decrease from 40.6 cents last year.

• Personal property: 27.9 cents, unchanged from 2010.

The proposed 2011 Proposition S levy for residential, commercial and personal property is 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Prop S, which voters approved in 2006, will sunset after this year.

The rates may change once the city receives post-Board of Equalization assessed valuations from the county. The board will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Government Center, 1 Detjen Drive, before the second reading and final approval of the 2011 tax rates.

Aldermen last week also took no action toward establishing a fee for groups to rent the aldermanic chambers or Fire Department training room at the Government Center.

The board in May adopted a new policy allowing any group to use the two rooms for free. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended a flat $20 rate.

Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild said last week he supported charging a fee because the city already does so for groups to rent rooms at the Whitecliff Park Community Center. However, other board members noted several groups that rent the aldermanic chambers and training room conduct city-related business and contended it would be difficult to draw the line between who should have to pay a fee.