Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Council to Continue Search With Mercer


Camp Mackle counselor Abby Martin is recognized for saving the life of a camper. Submitted Photo

Camp Mackle counselor Abby Martin is recognized for saving the life of a camper. Submitted Photo

Marco Island City Councilors on August 7th opened their meeting on a high note when they recognized two individuals for their contributions to making Marco a better community.

The first presentation was made to Mary Husted who was retiring from her position as the Administrative Assistant with the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department after 19 years. (More about Mary Husted’s contributions and retirement may be found on the front page of this issue.)

The second presentation of the evening was to Abby Martin, a camp counselor at Camp Mackle. Abby applied the skills she had learned as part of CPR training with the fire department to save the life of a camper during the city summer camp programs.

Council Debates Manager Search

The search for a new city manager has proven to be somewhat of a perplexing task for city council, with last Monday’s meeting adding but another twist in the saga.

Council initially hired the Mercer Group from Atlanta, Georgia and they assigned W.D. Higginbotham, Jr. as the person assigned to that task. After approximately three months on the job, Higginbotham brought forth what he described as seven “top tier” candidates.

Of those seven candidates only one was left standing, and he was found to be lacking in many of the skill sets which were originally set out as priorities in the minds of many on the board. After a 4-3 vote was taken to reject that sole candidate, Mr. Higginbotham found himself in an uncomfortable exchange with Chairman Honig, during which Higginbotham hinted he might not be returning at the next meeting. That exchange extended beyond the close of the meeting leaving the future search process in jeopardy.

On the following Monday, Higginbotham sent the city a memo announcing that their firm had completed their process and would not be continuing.

Some councilors in the ensuing week reached out to Higginbotham to apologize for the events of that evening’s meeting on behalf of themselves. Chairman Larry Honig also revealed he had reached out and apologized for his actions and requested that Mercer continue in their role seeking suitable candidates.

Councilor Charlette Roman indicated her surprise to see a Resolution included on the evening’s agenda and felt it was time to move on. Councilor Howard Reed agreed with the action to request Mercer to return to the task. “I think we’ve all learned a lot during the last several months,” said Reed.

Reed went on to make the point that whichever search firm was selected should know that they would be treated with respect and professionalism, as well as any candidate seeking to fill the position.

Council would go on to vote 5-2 to approve a Resolution requesting the Mercer Group continue in their work to seek out a new city manager. Councilors Brown and Roman were in opposition.

On Wednesday, August 9th Mercer confirmed with the city that they would indeed continue in the search for a new manager. The financial details concerning the continuation of their present contract were unclear and would be discussed at the next meeting of the city council on August 21st at 5:30 PM in Council Chambers.

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