2016-02-18 / Around Town

City Manager Evaluations Continue

By Barry Bridges

Newport councilors are still mum on how close they are to naming the city’s next manager.

Three councilors contacted by Newport This Week on Tuesday, Feb. 16, remained circumspect in their comments, declining to verify the number of candidate interviews to date or whether additional ones are scheduled.

Speaking to the confidential nature of personnel matters, Second Ward Councilor Lynn Ceglie said, “It’s all very tricky, and we can’t be too careful at this point.” City leaders have reiterated the need to maintain privacy in the selection process to protect the interests of the applicants and not jeopardize their current jobs.

Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano remarked, “We have been meeting regularly, but I really shouldn’t confirm how many folks we’ve talked to. We continue to evaluate some of the interviews we’ve already done.”

Third Ward Councilor Kathryn Leonard would only say, “We are getting together soon to discuss the next steps.”

Interviews took place on at least two separate occasions in late January and early February, as evidenced by council executive sessions posted on the city’s website.

Newport Human Resources Administrator Michael Coury said in December that 73 applicants expressed an interest in the position. An anonymous seven-member committee screened those submissions and recommended 10 to the council, who then began to line up interviews.

Ceglie explained that the committee was largely guided in their review by the position’s job description, which outlines responsibilities in areas such as budgeting, economic development, grant procurement, labor relations, and strategic planning.

The city is also seeking candidates with practical experience in technology and software. “Sometimes we feel like we’re behind the eight ball with IT issues,” said Napolitano.

Acting as a liaison between the human resources department and her colleagues on the council, Ceglie said that once a hire is made, the names of those on the screening committee will be made public.

The search for the city’s new administrator began in June, 2014, when then-manager Jane Howington resigned after two-and-a-half years on the job to take a similar post in Ohio. The current search led by the city follows an unsuccessful recruiting campaign spearheaded by an outside consulting firm.

Napolitano stood by her previous comments that a hire should be finalized by the end of March, and she is confident that the administration’s in-house efforts are headed in the right direction.

“We just have to trust that the process will work,” she said.

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