The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors scheduled Wednesday, May 29 to interview candidates for a new district manager, which they renamed “executive director” to clear up confusion.
The new executive director would take on administrative duties of the district, leaving current District Manager Rob Robinson to take on management of field operations.
Human Resources Attorney Lara Donlon told supervisors last week that the district has already received several applications, but some of them were looking for sales or other jobs, misinterpreting the district manager description.
“I haven’t gotten a whole lot of résumés just yet, but I looked at the February unemployment rate that was reported by CareerSource of Palm Beach County,” Donlon said at the board’s April 17 meeting. “It’s at 3.4 percent right now. Less than a year ago, it was 3.7, which is also still very low, so competition is fierce. According to CareerSource, there are more jobs available in Palm Beach County than people who can fill them, so that is one of the challenges we’re facing.”
Donlon said she provided supervisors with the first batch of résumés received, but some respondents are running into problems getting their résumés to the district due to technical issues.
“Some folks who are going through Indeed or ZipRecruiter, or things like that, are clicking a button and they’re coming to the district. We have not provided those yet because they haven’t sent them to me,” she said. “Do you want them or not? They’re not coming through the normal process.”
ITID President Betty Argue asked Donlon if she wanted to filter through the résumés for inappropriate candidates, and Donlon said she would rather the board weed out unsuitable candidates.
“At this point in time, I think the board really needs to sift through the résumés because the job criteria can be interpreted differently and somewhat flexibly,” she said. “You’re probably going to be doing it anyway at some point to narrow down those résumés.”
Argue said she anticipates narrowing interviews to about five.
Supervisor Tim Sayre said the district should take responsibility for seeing that applicants’ résumés go through to the proper person.
“They’re assuming that the button is set up correctly, and if it’s not, then that’s on us,” Sayre said. “If there’s a button to just push, you just assume that it’s going to the right place. I’m interested in seeing the applications that came through… I want to see all of them.”
Donlon said that in the past, she has made weekly deliveries of résumés to board members so that they are not overwhelmed toward the end of the search.
She added that some respondents seem to be confused by the title “district manager.”
“We see retail folks applying for this position because that is a very common retail title for district-level sales staff,” she said. “I know some of you have expressed interest to me in changing the title to the extent that we can get updated postings out to change the title of the position.”
She asked board members if they were interested in changing the title and, if so, what that title would be.
“In the past, this position was called ‘district administrator,’” she said. “Other districts, two or three locally, use the term ‘executive director.’ Certainly, it’s the board’s choice as to how to descriptively define or label the position.”
Sayre was concerned that the district almost never receives applications from the northeastern United States.
“I think that’s because in the northeast, they use a completely different term,” he said, suggesting that the ad refer to several equivalent titles to the position.
Argue favored retitling the position.
“Retitle it to ‘executive director’ and then ‘special districts manager, town manager’ in the description,” she said, adding that the district’s policy manual should be updated to replace “district manager” with “executive director.”
Supervisor Joni Martin made a motion to rename the manager’s position, which carried 4-0 with Supervisor Jennifer Hager absent.
Donlon added that the Florida Association of Special Districts has formed a coalition with some other special district groups.
“I’ve been in contact with Fred Crawford at FASD and the executive directors of these other special district associations, and I am working with them on posting to their sites, and that would be California, Colorado and Oregon,” she said, adding that she also looked at the Florida Government Finance Officers Association.
“It’s a $35 membership, but the posting is free,” Donlon said.
“I think we can afford $35,” Sayre said.
ITID Attorney Mary Viator said that there are some engineering organizations in Palm Beach County that might be looked to in order to get more applications.
Donlon added that the closing date is currently posted as May 2.
“Your next meeting is May 15 after that, so we were looking to possibly narrow the résumés at that point, but the board certainly would have the option to, if you don’t have enough candidates, or don’t like what you see, extend the deadline,” she said. “We can repost, and the board can consider hiring an independent search firm.”
Donlon added that search firms charge 20 to 30 percent of the candidate’s base salary.
In the past, she has called in for interviews any applicants who receive two or more indications of interest from individual supervisors, and that any out-of-state applicants may need more time to travel.
Sayre said that he has seen one likely candidate in the handful of résumés the district received so far.
“I’d hate to lose a really good applicant,” he said. “I think we should invite them to be in here May 15 so that they know they are being considered. We can interview them on May 15 and tell them we have a few other applicants that we’re going to interview, but at least they have heard back from us.”
Argue disagreed, saying that she felt all the candidates should be interviewed on one evening, if possible.
“I disagree interviewing one person because they’re the first one who has gotten the attention, and we have to give everyone the same opportunity,” Argue said.
Donlon said there is nothing stopping the board legally from interviewing a candidate early, possibly on May 15, but said it might compromise the process of having equal interview opportunities. She suggested sending the promising candidate a letter indicating that he or she has been selected for an interview.
The board agreed by consensus to set a special meeting on Wednesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. to hold interviews, and the board would narrow its list of candidates at its meeting on May 15.