Council pauses city manager search

City Meetings

The City of Keizer’s search for a permanent city manager hit a snag Monday, with city councilors opting to delay the start of the search process for at least three weeks. 

Councilors were set at Monday’s meeting to approve a contract with The Greg Prothman Company, a recruiting firm selected to help the city find their next city manager. After close to an hour of discussion, the council chose to push the contract approval to a Sept. 7 meeting.

“I’ll be voting no and I think we all should,” said Councilor Ross Day. “And I think we should just start over because this just feels like someone has lost the attention to detail.” 

The process of finding a recruiting firm has taken over two months, and by signing the contract Monday, the search for a permanent city manager would have officially begun. Keizer has been without a city manager since April, when Chris Eppley resigned after discharging a gun in his office one month earlier. 

In June, the city began looking for recruitment firms to help the city in the advertising, outreach, screening, interviewing and the selection of the position. The city received three eligible proposals, of which a committee comprised of the mayor, finance director and human resources director chose Prothman. The contract was set to cost the city up to $30,000 for up to five and a half months of work.

Day, who described the selection process and contract as “shoddy work” and “embarrassing,” was mainly concerned with the fact that Prothman was not a registered business in Oregon.

“Why should we trust a company that can’t comply with state law and has proven that they haven’t for nine years,” said Councilor Dan Kohler. 

Prothman is based in Washington and was last registered in Oregon in 2012. The company has recently worked on three recruitments in Oregon, two of them being for city managers.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson said the company said they thought “because they didn’t have an office in Oregon, they didn’t have to get registered.” 

Carla Axtman, the communications director for the Oregon Secretary of State, couldn’t definitively say if Prothman was required under Oregon law to be registered. She said the secretary of state works to help businesses become registered instead of enforcing if they are acting legally or not. 

In a written statement sent to the Keizertimes, Johnson said even if Prothman wasn’t required to be registered in the past “the city must require compliance before signing the contract if there is not an exemption.”

Prothman did not respond to a request for comment.

While the council chose to delay the decision until Tuesday, Sept. 7 to give staff time to gather more information, multiple councilors expressed a desire to restart the two month process altogether. 

“My concern is that we could go out, we can come back with a bunch of information and the decision is we don’t like this,” said Interim City Manager Wes Hare. “It might be simpler to just say, let’s just redo the request for proposal.”

The search for the new city manager was originally set to end no later than February 1 of next year.