Council picks committee to screen job applicants

Wanted: Chief administrative officer to manage a large lower Kenai Peninsula corporation with an $18 million budget. Supervisory details include directing heads of several departments, enforcing corporate rules and overseeing major properties, including a waterfront enterprise. Must have bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, but master’s degree preferred. Some night and evening work required. Serve at the will of a corporate board, with some members who change annually. Work in a seaside town with great recreational opportunities, including world-class fishing.

If that sounds like your dream job, does the city of Homer have a job for you — city manager. On Monday in a special meeting, the Homer City Council set out the process for hiring a new city manager to take over when current manager Walt Wrede finishes his contract on Dec. 31. Last Thursday, Wrede gave his three-month notice to Mayor Beth Wythe and the council.

The process for hiring a new city manager will go like this:

• On Monday, a job notice for city manager went up on the city’s website at Applicants can apply online. The application period ends Nov. 28. The job also will be advertised in other venues.

• Also on Monday, the council created a committee to screen and review applicants consisting of Mayor Beth Wythe, if re-elected, and council members Francie Roberts, Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak. 

• Starting in mid-October, the committee will begin reviewing applicants, and after the application period ends, send about 10 names to the council.

• Starting after the end of the application period, the entire council and the mayor will then interview candidates by phone and later videoconference. The top two or three finalists also will be brought to Homer for an in-person interview.

The entire process could take until next March, said council member Barbara Howard, who worked as a city clerk in California for years and has gone through the hiring of city managers. She also said the council shouldn’t rush.

“We need the finest, most well educated person to run this ship,” she said.

Howard also noted that Wrede’s current salary is less than that paid to other Alaska city managers. Wrede is paid $109,000. Soldotna pays its manager $130,000.

“We’re not in a favorable position,” she said.

Personnel Director Andrea Browning said several people currently working in the city have expressed interest in applying. She suggested the council look at internal applicants first, but the council decided to look at the entire pool at one time.

The council also discussed job qualifications. While a master’s degree is desired, council member Beau Burgess said if a well-qualified applicant had the right experience, a bachelor’s degree would be sufficient. 

Council member David Lewis said the council should consider other factors, like if the applicant has lived in a northern climate. “If you get a person coming from Florida, they might not last long,” he said.

If the council does not hire a new city manager by the time Wrede leaves, the council could hire a temporary or itinerant manager through the Alaska Municipal League, Wythe noted.

In the search that hired Wrede in February 2003, former city manager Ron Drathman resigned in November 2002 and left his job in mid-January 2003. 

Michael Armstrong can be reached at