Fort Smith Board narrows list of city administrator candidates to three finalists

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 107 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Thursday (Feb. 18) narrowed down a list eight qualified applicants for the city administrator job with one person making the short list being Acting City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Also selected is Daniel Biles, a 23-year veteran of the Air National Guard and the United States Air Force, and now a deputy county manager in Jefferson County, Ala., (Birmingham); and Carl Geffken, who is now the chief operating officer, Children and Youth Services, for the County of Berks, Pennsylvania. He’s also served as the city managing director (2010-2012) of Reading, Pa.

City Director and Vice Mayor Kevin Settle said the about 90-minute executive session “went well.”

“These are the three choices that the board felt were the best for our city to come in for a second interview,” Settle said when asked about the overall quality of candidates.

When asked if he thinks the short list includes a candidate who would lead the city or if the Board might begin a new search, Settle said, “There is someone on this list.”

Colin Baenziger & Associates (CBA), the Daytona Shores Beach, Fla.-based firm hired by the city to find administrator, sent on Feb. 11 nine applications for the city administrator job, with two having military experience and one appearing to not meet one of the basic requirements of having a bachelor’s degree.

Requirements for the city’s top 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.

The city administrator job pays between $130,000 and $170,000.

City Administrator Ray Gosack resigned suddenly on July 10 following a period of conflict with the Fort Smith Board related to budget balancing decisions. Gosack held the job for about three years, and was with the city for 16 years.

Following is a summary of the resumes of the three finalists.

• Daniel Biles
deputy county manager-infrastructure (2014-present)
Jefferson County Commission, Birmingham, Ala.

executive director-public works (2010-2014)
Corpus Christi, Texas

infrastructure business stream manager (2008-2010)
Corpus Christi, Texas

entitlement-project manager (2006-2008)
Puyallup, Wash.

senior project manager (1998-2006)
Hatton Godat Panter, Olympia, Wash.

Biles also is a 23-year veteran of the Air National Guard and the United States Air Force. He retired as a colonel, and his time in service included commander (2015-2012) of the 248th Civil Engineering Flight, Camp Murray, Wash.; and commander (2008-2007) of the 120th Fighter Wing Headquarters Squadron, Great Falls, Mont.

Biles graduated in 1990 from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and in 1994 graduated Texas A&M with a master’s degree in civil engineering.

• Jeff Dingman
acting city administrator (July 2015-present)
deputy city administrator (2011-2015)
Fort Smith, Ark.

administrator (2003-2011)
Baldwin City, Kans.

assistant county administrator (1999-2003)
Sebastian County, Ark.

administrative aide to the city manager (1997-1999)
University Park, Texas

management intern (1996-1997)
Bonner Springs, Kans.

Dingman in 1994 earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Baker University, in 1998 earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas, and in 1998 earned a law degree from the University of Kansas.

• Carl Geffken
chief operating officer, Children and Youth Services (2012-present)
County of Berks, Pennsylvania

city managing director (2010-2012)
Reading, Pa.

director of administrative services (2009-2011)
Reading, Pa.

interim chief financial officer/vice president of finance (July-November 2008)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

director of finance and human resources (2006-2008)
National Association of Drug Abuse Problems

executive director, finance, information technology and human resources (2003-2006)
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York City

budget director (1990-1998)
Department of Health, New York City

Geffken earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1986 from State University of New York, and a master’s degree in business administration in 1988 from City University of New York.