The Indian Trail Improvement District narrowed its list of district manager candidates to eight Wednesday and set interviews for Sept. 3 and 4 at 4 p.m.
The list of finalists was drawn up by taking those applicants who had at least two favorable votes from board members. The list includes Peggy Bertsche, Donald Cooper, William Gotthelf, Robert Halfel, David Harvell, Marjorie Perez, Jamie Titcomb and Special District Services.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said he would like to make the position an employee of the district rather than a contracted position.
“I would like to make a motion to make the manager an employee, so we have more control, more flexibility,” Dunkley said. “Like I stated previously, we have had very little luck with contract managers, and I would like to make it where this employee of the district has a six-month probation.”
Human relations attorney Lara Donlon noted that although the district has had managers in the past with contracts, they were still ITID employees.
“There is no requirement that you have a contract with a district manager, but they’re still an employee either way,” Donlon said.
Dunkley said he does not want the district to sign a contact with the new employee.
“I do not want any contracts,” he said. “They are our employees, and we do not have to buy out any contract. We have guidelines, we have policies that the board sets for them to follow, and we do not have to be encumbered by buying them out.”
Donlon pointed out that one of the candidates on the list is a corporation, which would likely require a contract.
ITID Vice President Carol Jacobs suggested that the contract could be written differently than it was with former District Administrator Tanya Quickel, who had a separation clause if the board chose to dismiss her without cause. “We could put language in it that would protect the district,” she said.
Dunkley agreed. “It was on the side of the employee, and I don’t want that done again,” he said.
Jacobs said that the salary of the manager should be less than what previous administrators had made.
“Before we even notify the candidates, we need to discuss salary, because some might not even want to come in,” Jacobs said. “We need to discuss what salary we’re going to pay.”
Supervisor Michelle Damone said she would rather have Donlon discuss salary with the candidates privately than in a public meeting.
Donlon agreed that one of the challenges of open government is the ability to negotiate.
“Sometimes we have to show our cards before we’d like to,” she said. “What might be helpful, so we don’t have folks coming in where we were before from a budget standpoint with our former administrator, is a general range, so we have a sense.”
Jacobs said she thought the position should be in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 with a car and benefits, and Supervisor Ralph Bair put the range at $75,000 to $100,000, depending on experience.
Dunkley said he was thinking a similar salary range, but with a car allowance rather than a car. “Having a car is adding another $25,000 to $30,000 to their salary,” he said. “I would rather take that money and give them an allowance. Let them have receipts to verify what they’re doing.”
Jacobs said the problem she has with a car allowance is that she wants the manager to spend several days a week driving around the district. That would require a dedicated vehicle that can get to hard-to-reach places.
Supervisor Ralph Bair also pointed out that the manager would need to be prepared to respond to emergencies.
Damone added that she thought the car discussion should remain flexible and be discussed in negotiations.
ITID President Jennifer Hager said she wanted to reserve the option for the board not to choose any of the candidates, and Donlon said the board always has that option.
Donlon suggested that regardless of whether it includes a salary range, the board should send letters of invitation to the selected candidates, where each will sign off and indicate whether they plan to attend.
After some discussion of the candidates, the board agreed unanimously to narrow the list to those candidates with favorable votes from at least two board members.