Town leaders are expected to decide Monday if they will enlist the help of a hiring firm to whittle down candidates for the position of Zebulon town manager.
Such a decision would mark a turnabout from November, when Mayor Bob Matheny said the town would carry out the entire process on its own like it had for the hiring of Zebulon’s past four managers.
“We’re all smart people sitting here, I’m sure, but I think we’re probably smart to get some outside help, too,” Commissioner Don Bumgarner said at the town board’s Feb. 2 meeting.
The board of commissioners plans to hold a special meeting at town hall Monday at 5 p.m. to hear a presentation from Steve Straus on the procedures used by his company, Developmental Associates.
Straus’ firm helped with the hiring of current police Chief Tim Hayworth and current fire Chief Chris Perry.
“It wouldn’t make a bit of sense to bring in a consultant to help with the hiring of your fire chief and police chief and not do the same for your town manager,” Matheny said.
The search for a new manager comes in the wake of Rick Hardin’s resignation in November.
The town had received 28 applications for the position as of Feb. 2, and expects even more will be filed in the coming weeks.
Matheny said the town board could carry out the first phase of candidate screenings and then turn the second phase over to Developmental Associates.
(The firm) would then bring (its evaluations) back to us and we pare it down from there to ... no more than seven (candidates) and they would run an assessment center,” Matheny said. “They bring in experts in various fields ... and bring the candidates in and do a full interview and role play with those candidates.
“From there, basically you would boil it down to two or three ... and we take those and look at them, come down to hopefully one candidate and at that point they would do a background check.”
Matheny has also considered the financial implications of hiring Developmental Associates. He said the difference in what Hardin was paid and what current part-time interim Manager Sidney Perry is compensated is more than enough to offset the firm’s fees.
Finance Director Bobby Fitts estimated that difference to be about $17,000, assuming Perry remains in the interim position through the end of April.
Whether or not the town will make public the identities of any of the candidates before a final hiring decision is made is yet to be decided.
“It would be at the very end – at some point the candidates have to say, ‘It’s OK if you publicize that I’m one of the finalists,’ ” Matheny said. “If they’ve got a job, they don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with their current employer by making it known they were going out and talking somewhere else.”