Owen Sound council discusses retaining a search firm to find new city manager. DENIS LANGLOIS/THE SUN TIMES
With city manager Wayne Ritchie set to retire in May 2020, Owen Sound has set the wheels in motion to find his replacement.Council approved Monday night the contents of a request-for-proposals document that will seek out an executive search firm to help the city fill the top administrator role. The recruitment service is expected to cost the city between $20,000 and $40,000, according to a staff report.Mayor Ian Boddy said he supports retaining a consultant with the proper expertise to help council find and hire Owen Sound’s next city manager.“This is the most important position in the city and really the city manager is the only employee of council – all the rest are his or her employees – so it’s important that we get it right,” he said in an interview.Ritchie’s current employment contract expires on May 15. He has told council, and confirmed in an interview with The Sun Times, that he plans to retire after that date.As a result, council voted during an in-camera session June 10 to direct staff to bring forward a draft RFP for an executive search firm.That document was presented to council at Monday’s meeting.Annie Reed, the city’s human resources supervisor, said council’s votes during the meeting gave staff the green light to issue the RFP for the search firm. She expects the city will do so later this summer, she said.Council voted to seek through the RFP a consultant that would be able to help council with things like developing the city manager job description, determining a competitive compensation package and identifying advertising venues to reach qualified candidates. The consultant will also identify and obtain qualified candidates to apply for the job, help to prepare interview questions and conduct reference and background checks and negotiate a job offer with council’s preferred candidate.Council also voted to appoint councillors Richard Thomas, Travis Dodd and Brock Hamley to work with staff to evaluate the bids that come in from the executive search firms. It also approved a scoring tool for ranking the proposals.In addition, council endorsed a timeline for recruiting the new city manager. The city is planning to award the contract for the search firm in September or October and post the city manager job in early 2020. Interviews with prospective candidates are to take place in February, while a job offer and contract negotiations are to follow in March.The new city manager is expected to start work with the city in April or May 2020.Ritchie, 65, had worked for 11 years for the Owen Sound Public Utilities Commission before being hired in 2001 as Owen Sound’s manager of capital projects.He was promoted to city treasurer – the title later changed to director of financial services – later in 2001.He served in that position until April 2015 when he was named interim city manager after the sudden departure of former city manager Ruth Coursey, who retired.Ritchie became city manager on a permanent basis in May 2015.He said after 30 years with the city, he believes 2020 is the right time for him to retire.“I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been a privilege and it is still a privilege. But there just comes a time when it’s just time to move onto other things,” he said.