City of Coquille

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COQUILLE — The Coquille City Council hopes the second time around with the Prothman company works better than the first.

The council voted last week to use Prothman to perform the search for a new city manager. Prothman also helped Coquille find Sam Baugh, who was dismissed in December, about a year after being hired by the city.

The council was choosing between Prothman and the Lane Council of Governments, both experienced search firms. Prothman had agreed to waive its normal base search fee of $16,500 and just charge expenses of advertising and travel.

Gary Milliman, who represented the company during Monday’s meeting, said he expected those expenses to be $5,000 to $6,000.

Howard Schussler, the government services director for the Lane Council of Governments, said he couldn’t offer a guarantee of the expense of the search, but that the company tries to keep its costs in check. It likely would be much higher than the cost of Prothman, though.

Both MIlliman and Schussler described their respective organization’s search methods — each offering to bring in several potential candidates in either narrow, regional searches or broader, national ones.

Coquille Police Chief Scott Sanders has been acting as the pro-tem city manager and the council praised his efforts while pondering whether he might want to stay on as permanent city manager after his pro-tem term ends.

“Thanks for the praise,” Sanders said. “I am honored and humbled at the same time. I am here for the city. I want the best for the city.”

Sanders said he retired once, from the military, and hopes to retire from public service in the next four years.

“I am definitely here as long as the council, the city needs me to hold down the fort until you get the right person,” he said. “I have said from Dec. 4 when I was asked to do this that we are only going to move forward. We have strived to do that with the staff and I think the staff has done that for us. I still want to maintain that momentum.”

Some councilors suggested the work by Sanders gives the city a little flexibility in how quick it needs to complete the search.

“He’s doing a fantastic job,” Councilor Dave Chappelle said. “I don’t really see where we need to expedite it.”

Councilors suggested the city could hire Sanders as city manager on a temporary basis when his pro-tem term is finished, to make sure the permanent hire is a good one.

“Our next decision needs to be the right decision,” Mayor Sam Flaherty said. “Our city can’t afford to keep making those decisions from one year to the next.”

After the council had its chances to question both Milliman and Schussler, it first voted on a motion by Councilor Ann Parker to hire the Lane Council of Governments.

“I was not impressed by the process the last time,” Parker said of the work by Prothman.

But her motion failed by a 5-2 vote, and a second motion, to choose Prothman, was approved by the same margin, with Parker and Councilor Julie Nighswonger opposed.

The city will use the Lane Council of Governments for another search though, with the council giving approval by consensus for Community Development Director Hailey Sheldon to hire that organization to conduct the city’s search for a new public works director.

Schussler said he expects that search to cost less than $6,000.

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