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City ramps-up search for city administrator

November 29, 2018

The City of David City is preparing to interview two candidates for the city administrator position in the next few weeks, a position that has been vacant for several years.

According to a job posting on the city’s website, the city administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city. He or she reports to the mayor and city council and prepares and presents the annual budget.

“We just need to have one right now,” said David City City Council member Gary Smith. “We have a lot of things going on, and it’s hard to keep track without someone there day by day.”

Smith and fellow City Council member Pat Meysenburg comprise a committee responsible for filling the position. Although the two interviewed several candidates earlier this year, Smith said they have yet to find a qualified person for the job. But with the recent round of interviews set to take place in the coming weeks, Smith said he’s hopeful the city will be able to find the right person for the job.

The city has struggled to fill the postilion for nearly a decade. The longest the position has been filled in the last 10 years was by Joe Johnson from 2006-2009. He was succeeded by Jon Holmes, who resigned in early 2011 after eight months on the job, according to The Banner-Press archives.

City Clerk Joan Kovar then served as interim city administrator for a brief time, though she said most of the job’s responsibilities were handled by the mayor.

The last person to hold the position was Abbie Cornett, of Bellevue. But after eight months of working for the city, she resigned from the job in June 2014. The position has been vacant since then

City council member Skip Trowbridge said the city has been reluctant to fill the position in the past but has ramped up the search recently due to all the construction projects happening in David City. He said the city has experienced communication problems with the Downtown Improvement Project and feels that having a city manager would have solved those issues. And with construction ongoing at the Timpte facility at 1827 Industrial Drive, and work to eventually begin on the city’s wastewater treatment plant, he said the city could really use someone to coordinate communication on a day-to-day basis.

“I think it’s money well spent,” Trowbridge said about the city administrator position. “So many of us on the council are beginning to see personnel issues because there isn’t a designated leader.”

Mayor Alan Zavodny said the job market for city administrators is tight at the moment and that he doesn’t expect to fill the job for the next three to six months. He said the city is trying to offer competitive pay as to attract a more experienced individual rather than someone fresh out of college. Cornett, as city administrator, was paid a yearly salary $65,000 by the city. But Zavodny said the city could end up paying upwards of $80,000 for the new hire.

“We just have so much going on, it would really be great for someone who can dedicate themselves for the day to day operations,” Zavodny said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter with The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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