By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
BUDA – The pursuit of a new city manager goes back to the drawing board for Buda City Councilmembers, but they’ll use the same chalk.
Councilmembers took no public action in their protracted search for a lead administrator at Tuesday night’s meeting. City officials said the council will go back to the original list of candidates provided by their headhunter, Waters Oldani Executive Recruitment. They will not go back to any of the five finalists interviewed on June 28.
“It’s safe to say the new city manager will not be one of the previously interviewed candidates,” said Buda’s interim city manager, Sarah Mangham.
The council voted unanimously on July 1 to offer their position to Jennifer Tubbs, the township administrator in Watertown, MI (population 4,100). However, Tubbs and the city could not come to a contract agreement.
Officials say Tubbs wanted a one-year housing allowance as part of a deal that would have included a salary exceeding $90,000. In a letter to Buda Mayor Bobby Lane on July 9, Tubbs said the city’s offer could not support her family, since a realtor advised her that she would need six months to sell her Michigan home.
Following the June interviews, none of the other candidates interviewed were found satisfactory. The other finalists were Belinda Espinosa from Pinole, CA, Dennis McDuffie from McGregor, TX, Michael Miller from Farmington, NM, and Dion Miller from Mineola, TX. Based on accounts, Espinosa probably was the next candidate in line, but councilmembers believe they could improve their chances by interviewing the top three to five candidates not interviewed in the last round.
The city began searching for a new city manager in February, following Robert Camareno’s resignation so he could take a position in his hometown of New Braunfels.
Waters spelled out a two-year guarantee. If the city’s new manager is fired with cause within his first year, Waters will run the search for his replacement at no charge. If the new city manager is fired with cause in his second year, Waters will waive 50 percent of the cost to find his replacement.
Second, Waters promised a tighter time frame for presenting candidate interviews. Waters said the council could be interviewing candidates before the end of April. But the first interviews didn’t take place until late June, likely because the city council’s composition wasn’t settled until Scott Dodd beat Billy Gray in a June run-off election for the final council seat.
Waters originally went to the city with a bid of $19,500 and a willingness to negotiate a maximum for expenses. The final bill is likely to come in around $25,000.
Mangham said Tuesday night that she is not a candidate for the job on a permanent basis, citing a desire to have time for her six-year-old child.