City moves ahead in search for new city manager

With open advertising for Homer’s new city manger officially closed, the city can now begin the process of whittling down applicants to replace outgoing City Manager Katie Koester.

Koester announced in December that she is leaving Homer to take a job with the city and borough of Juneau. A call for applications for her replacement closed on Jan. 30. The next step is for the city’s human resources department to review applications “for any candidates that do not meet minimum qualifications” and provide an applicant packet for the Homer City Council to review, according to a memo from Koester to the council included in Monday’s city council meeting’s packet.

The council was originally scheduled to meet in an executive session in late January or early February to review eligible applicants and select some of them for phone interviews. After the Jan. 13 city council meeting, a discussion with City Attorney Michael Gatti resulted in that being changed to a public meeting which Koester said in an email she will suggest be held on Feb. 3. Holding the applicant review in executive session would have violated the Open Meetings Act, it was determined.

“We will be rescheduling the initial candidate review for a public special meeting at 4 p.m. on Feb. 3,” Koester said in Monday’s council meeting. “Members who need to can participate telephonically.”

According to a draft schedule in the memo from Koester, background authorizations will be sent to finalists on Feb. 4. Telephone interviews are tentatively scheduled for the week Feb. 10, with in person interviews to take place the week of Feb. 24.

A selection of the new city manager is slated to take place on Feb. 28, after which the city would enter into negotiations with the applicant. If those negotiations are successful, the draft schedule calls for an estimated start date of April 6 for the new city manager. If negotiations are successful, Koester’s last day is April 10.

If negotiations are not successful, the city would solicit other interested candidates from March 1-18. The council would review candidates again on March 23. An interim city manager would have to be appointed on March 13. If negotiations are not successful, Koester’s last day is slated for April 3.

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