Schedule moved forward for hiring Fort Smith city administrator

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 132 views 

The application deadline for Fort Smith city administrator candidates was extended from Dec. 2 to Jan. 8 in an effort to find a few more “very good applicants.”

Colin Baenziger, owner of Colin Baenziger & Associates (CBA), the Daytona Shores Beach, Fla.-based firm hired by the city to find administrator applicants, told Talk Business & Politics that “we do have some very strong applicants, it’s (extending the deadline) just a matter of” finding more.

“We had a number of very good applicants but didn’t have as many as I wanted,” he said, adding that he hopes to provide the Fort Smith Board of Directors 8-10 good applicants. “Anything more than that kind of overwhelms the client.”

The job has been open since early July when Ray Gosack suddenly resigned following a period of conflict with the Fort Smith Board of Directors related to budget balancing decisions. Gosack held the job for about three years, and was with the city for 16 years.

A Dec. 2 deadline was initially set for the job paying between $130,000 and $170,000 – and it is unclear if the salary range includes benefits. The new deadline of Jan. 8 gives people more time during the holidays to consider the job, Baenziger said. He also said the salary range is enough to recruit good applicants.

Under the initial schedule, the Mayor and Fort Smith Board of Directors were set to conduct candidate interviews beginning Jan. 15. The new schedule has CBA reporting applicant results on Jan. 13, and providing candidate info to the city on Feb. 10. From there, the city is set to select candidates for interviews by Feb. 18, with interviews scheduled between Feb. 29 and March 4.

The new proposed date for announcing a new city administrator is March 8, seven weeks later than the original schedule of Jan. 19.

As to who is applying, Baenziger said most of the candidates have a public sector background.

“We’d like to see some high-caliber business people … because it would give the elected body a little more variety,” Baenziger said in the interview. “(But) so far we haven’t had many private-sector people applying.”

Baenziger said successful business people often avoid government jobs because “the scrutiny is higher” than in the private sector. Also, successful business people are accustomed to a “wide latitude to make decisions,” whereas a city administrator will report frequently to a Board, he said.

Requirements for the job include a bachelor’s degree, with a preference for a candidate with a master’s degree in business administration, public administration or a field related to public policy. The CBA recruitment piece suggests candidates have “seven to ten years of increasingly responsible experience as a senior level government or private sector executive.” The person is also required to live in the city if hired.

Other requirements include:
• Management in budgeting and finance, economic development and redevelopment and in the advancement of strategic visioning;
• Knowledge of and experience in working with community groups and agencies and in intergovernmental relations; and
• Analytical skills, as well as a knowledge of the application of information technology to optimize process and inform the public.

“Personally, the individual will be intelligent, upbeat, friendly, outgoing, organized, and relentlessly positive – someone with a ‘can do’ attitude and who is visionary yet practical. She/he will also be consistent, cheerfully persistent, high energy, and definitely not a bureaucrat,” noted the CBA recruitment piece for the Fort Smith city administrator job.