Updated: Waukesha Council Hires Florida Firm for City Administrator Search
Firm to be paid up to $20,500 to seek new executive for city.
Updated, 12:20 p.m. Wednesday: The aldermen who voted against using the Colin Baenziger & Associates search firm were Joan Francoeur, Kathleen Cummings and Roger Patton, according to Clerk/Treasurer Tom Neill.
Original: Despite concerns from some aldermen about using a Florida-based head-hunting firm with little experience in Wisconsin to seek the next city administrator, the Common Council Tuesday voted to hire Colin Baenziger & Associates at a cost to not exceed $20,500.
Alderman Paul Ybarra, who voted to approve the contract, said he was concerned about the firm’s lack of experience in Waukesha and Wisconsin. However, he said he was respecting the Human Resources Committee’s recommendations to hire the firm.
“I think you are going to be hard pressed to explain why that selection was made,” Ybarra said during the Finance Committee meeting.
Alderwoman Joan Francoeur, who was the lone dissenting vote on the Human Resources Committee, said she wouldn’t publicly oppose the search firm but felt that a different firm had more extensive knowledge of Waukesha and the situations the city faces.
“I respect the democratic process,” she said.
Alderman Vance Skinner, though, said Colin Baenziger was thorough in its presentation.
“He could speak with ease and with confidence,” Skinner said. "All firms were treated equally. All firms were asked the same questions.”
The city administrator search firm will be paid for from the salary that was in the budget for previous City Administrator Lori Luther, who resigned from the position to become a county administrator in Peoria, IL. The council had voted during the 2012 budget process to fill the city administrator position beginning March 1.
Luther left under tumultuous working conditions because of the sometimes public clashes between her and Mayor Jeff Scrima. In the summer of 2010, the council removed Scrima’s supervisory power over the city administrator. However, the reasons for Luther's departure have not been publicly stated because the matter was discussed in closed session as a personnel item.
Waukesha resident Ron Kading, who is running for the District 12 aldermanic seat against incumbent Rick Hastings, told aldermen they needed to define the city administrator reporting structure before hiring the search firm.
“Before that happens, there is some unfinished business that needs to be taken care of,” Kading said.
Francoeur noted during the Common Council meeting that the job description needs to be approved by the council.
Community Development Director Steve Crandell has been acting as city administrator since August.