Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay may hire search firm to find new village manager

Before picking a new village manager, Palmetto Bay will likely hire a consulting firm to conduct the search.

At a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday night, Palmetto Bay council members instructed staff to get quotes for a search firm. If hired, a firm would be in charge of advertising and recruiting candidates, performing background checks and recommending finalists to council.

Village Manager Ron Williams, who will leave his post March 31 to be replaced in the interim by building director Ed Silva, told the council to expect to pay somewhere around $20,000 to $25,000 for headhunting services.

With an advertising window of 30 days on the request for quotes, the council likely won’t vote to hire a search firm until late March – if they set a special council meeting. If they don’t, the matter will wait until April.

A running theme in the council’s discussions on finding a new manager has been a fear that without the promise of confidentiality – impossible to grant given Florida’s public records laws – potential candidates would be loath to apply if currently employed.

Council members floated the idea that hiring a search firm to pare down the list of candidates could keep at least those who didn’t make the final round out of the public eye, but village lawyer Claudio Riedi (who was filling in for regular village lawyer Dexter Lehtinen) told them that was unlikely.

But some on the dais, including Mayor Eugene Flinn, appeared willing to use a search firm anyway.

“If you don’t want a consultant, you’re going to have to decide basically how we’re going to do it, and I think there are certain impracticabilities to not having a consultant,” Flinn said. “Unless you guys want to start meeting daily, there’s no way to we can work on this in any kind of coordinated fashion.”

Using headhunters to find municipal leadership is growing in practice: Pinecrest, Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, and Surfside all used search firms to find their current managers.