Salem will hire search firm to find city manager

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Photo courtesy City of Salem
Laura Saunders, regional program manager of the CALEA mid-Atlantic region, presenting Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley with a plaque recognizing Salem Police’s first national accreditation. With them are, from left, Sgt. Todd Cheney, Maj. Derek Weeks and Capt. Todd Clayton

Salem is officially beginning a search for its next city manager and possibly, an assistant manager. Monday night, Salem City Council authorized Mayor Randy Foley to execute a contract to hire a search firm other nearby cities have used.

Foley confirmed that Interim City Manager Jay Taliaferro, who is Salem’s former assistant city manager, is one of the candidates. He has served as interim since council asked for the resignation of City Manager Kevin Boggess, city manager for nine years, in January of this year. That was a split vote of 3-2, with Mayor Randy Foley and Vice Mayor Jane Johnson opposing the move.

Council’s directive this week was to spend up to $22,500 with the firm GovHRusa.

Foley explained he had researched the search firm after the City of Chesapeake, Winchester and Government Finance Officers recently used GovHRusa and were pleased. He also looked into seven or eight other recruiting companies.

During the discussion, Councilman Bill Jones said, “We definitely need an outside person” to conduct the search.

John Saunders, the newest councilman, said he “appreciates the mayor’s leadership and due diligence to look into hiring an outside firm to do the legwork for us.”

Johnson pointed out, “We owe it to the city to redefine what we are looking for in a leadership role.”

The discussion mentioned that the city might also need to hire a new assistant city manager if Taliaferro is chosen manager.

When council asked for Boggess’ resignation, councilmembers were reluctant to say why, but two did say they wanted the city to move in a different direction than the way it had been going with Boggess.

Monday night, the mayor said he hoped a new city manager could be hired by Jan. 1, 2020.

It was a packed agenda for the June 24 Salem City Council meeting, with big money figures and big ideas for the future.

Council approved an $82-million budget and plans to borrow $32 million to renovate Salem High School.

It also approved allocating an additional $234,911 – making the total expenditure just under $500,000 – to replace the leaking Salem Civic Center roof. Bids were much higher than expected, Taliaferro said. The $265,000 comes from a February bond sale. The additional money will be from Salem’s General Fund Contingency.

Council did get a piece of good news about roofs in the work session before the start of the council meeting. Director of Street and General Maintenance Mike Tyler said not all the 29 separate roofs at the high school, and field house have to be replaced at once.

“We can do small things now, and extend the life a little longer,” Tyler said. “We could replace the real critical sections and do some maintenance,” he added.

Jones asked to see the difference in dollars. “Show us the money,” he said.

In other matters, Council:

  • Received a certificate of appreciation from the Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy for Salem’s 35 years of cooperation with the hosting and assisting the academy located in South Salem.

Saw Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley and staff receive the plaque from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, in recognition the police department earning its first national accreditation. The department has already earned state accreditation for several years. News of the national accreditation came in May, but Monday night, Laura Saunders, regional program manager of the CALEA mid-Atlantic region, made the official presentation to the chief at the council meeting. With him were his officers who did most of the work for the award, Maj. Derek Weeks, Capt. Todd Clayton and Sgt. Todd Cheney. They accomplished the two-three year process in 18 months, the chief pointed out.