OGDENSBURG — Not so fast.
That’s what several City Council members are saying about the proposed timeline to interview and hire a new city manager.
In a plan proposed by the Bonadio Group, the Syracuse firm hired to recruit city manager candidates, council members would meet candidates, interview them and make a decision over a four-day period.
“I kind of got the impression that they wanted to wrap this thing up that weekend,” said Councilman Wayne L. Ashley. “I have some concerns with the time frame.”
Some council members wish to perform background checks on all the candidates.
“Past experience has proved that we need to look into people more thoroughly, not just city managers, but other people, too,” said Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley.
Mr. Morley said if the council had looked into the background of former city manager Arthur J. Sciorra, who was involved in internal disputes as village manager of Horseheads and city manager of Cassopolis, Mich., it might not have hired him in the first place.
“We rushed the last time,” he said. “I’ll take the blame for that; I was on the committee that hired the last person.”
Mr. Sciorra was hired in 2006. In January, the council terminated his contract without cause.
The council’s plan now calls for the five most qualified candidates to be brought before the council. However, that conflicts with some council members’ wishes.
In May, the council asked to see a list of all applicants for the position.
“Today is the last day for our applications to get there, so the list isn’t complete,” Mr. Morley said. “We want to know everybody who applied.”
Mr. Morley said the council should interview every applicant as well. As of mid-day Friday, the last day to submit an application, the city had received more than two dozen applications.
“I would not mind. Watertown had 38 applicants and they interviewed everybody,” Mr. Morley said, “not just five or six that were selected.”
Other council members expressed concern that planned changes to Ogdensburg’s charter would not be completed before the hire, especially with the city’s intermittent summer meeting schedule.
Typically, the council meets only once a month during the summer.
“I think we’re going to discuss potential changes to the charter when we have our committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday the 30th,” said Councilman Daniel E. Skamperle. “We need a special meeting called, but I’m not sure when we’re going to be able to do it.”
Though the council will discuss amending the charter at the committee-of-the-whole meeting, any changes would require a public hearing before being voted on at a regular meeting.
Council members also expressed concern the search would once again pass over local candidates.
“I will be particularly looking to see if anybody locally qualifies and submitted an application,” Mr. Skamperle said.
Mr. Skamperle said officials passed over some local candidates in the interview process last time.
The council feels a sense of urgency to hire someone. City of Watertown officials fired City Manager Mary M. Corriveau the same day Ogdensburg parted ways with Mr. Sciorra. Earlier this month, Sharon A. Addison started as the new Watertown city manager.
“I’m not rushing into this. If this takes another two months, so be it,” Mr. Ashley said. “That is the way I feel. I’m not going to be pushed into a situation.”