City manager search needs public input
Champaign residents can make their views known this week about what qualities they would like to see in a new city manager.
Champaign residents have a chance starting this week to help shape the search for a new city manager. It's a rare opportunity — the last time Champaign hired a city manager was 28 years ago.
City officials are asking for public input as they begin the process of finding a successor for Steve Carter, who has announced that he will retire at the end of March 2013.
City council members intend to conduct the search using city staff instead of hiring a search firm, a move they figure can save between $25,000 and $40,000. We have been critical of local governments spending money on search firms and consultants, and we agree with their decision, especially in these tough economic times.
That's why it's important for residents to join in the process and tell them what qualities they would like to see as the council develops a job profile for city manager candidates.
Council members want to find out what residents think are the biggest issues currently facing the city and what residents foresee being issues in the next few years, as well as what management style and job experience an ideal candidate might possess.
There are a number of ways residents can contribute their opinions. City officials have launched an electronic survey (http://www.ci.champaign.il.us), a hot line phone number (217-403-8848) and are offering a mail-in survey. City staff will also hold three informal public input sessions this week in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St., at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Saturday.
The city has set a Nov. 15 deadline for public comments. The council will meet in a special session at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Illinois Terminal building to direct staff in writing the profile and will review the draft profile the study session scheduled for Nov. 27 in the City Council Chambers.
Tentatively, city officials think they will advertise the position during December, have finalists selected and interviewed in January or early February and a new city manager announced by Feb. 15. The new employee could start work on March 25.
This is the time for residents to have a say in what kind of person succeeds Carter, who managed effectively for nearly three decades in a position not known for long tenures. We applaud the council for the way it is including the public in the process, and we hope many residents take advantage of this opportunity.