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Firm hired to help with manager search

March 5, 2019

The Webster City Council approved the hiring of Callahan Municipal Consultants LLC Monday to help in the search for a city manager.

The council approved the hiring at its regular meeting Monday on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Brian Miller being absent.

The city manager’s position has been vacant since August 2018 when Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez left to take a similar position in California.

Council members agreed to hire the Anamosa-based company not only because of its low bid of $17,500 for the search, but also because they have previously worked with its founder, Patrick Callahan. He led the council’s goal-setting session in January.

“He knows us now,” Mayor John Hawkins said. “He knows what we’re up to.”

Councilman Logan Welch agreed that Callahan already knowing who the council members are is an advantage.

“Being able to work with him on the city goal-setting session, kind of getting a feel for his tactic, his mindset, is helpful,” Welch said.

Councilman Matt McKinney also praised Callahan.

“He was good to work with,” McKinney said. “I think he’d do a good job.”

During the discussion, some council members suggested maybe offering a bonus to the city manager candidate as an incentive for remaining in the job.

Ortiz-Hernandez was only city manager for about 18 months before his departure.

Councilman Jim Talbot suggested that the next city manager be from a similarly-sized town or from the area.

Ortiz-Hernandez had previously worked in Nebraska and Arizona before coming to Webster City.

“I guess that’s incumbent that we find somebody more local, from a smaller community, that wants to establish roots,” Talbot said. “We’re looking for someone to come in who really wants to jump in.”

Welch said nobody could have predicted that Ortiz-Hernandez would leave after such a short time.

“We knew when we brought Daniel in, we were kind of catching a shooting star by the tail, and we knew he probably was going to continue building his career,” Welch said. “I just didn’t expect it to be that quick, of course.”

He added that he’d like to see someone who is excited to help Webster City move forward.

“I definitely want somebody with a lot of energy and new ideas, and usually that comes from a younger demographic,” Welch said. “I think that’s kind of what Webster City feels like now. We’re kind of on the cusp of that younger feel.”

In other action, the council approved the first readings of changes to two ordinances; the amending of Chapter 55 and the repeal of Chapter 141.

City Attorney Zach Chizek explained that both ordinances have to do with junk vehicles. Chapter 55 is an all-encompassing ordinance that talks about all types of nuisance property, while Chapter 141 is exclusively about junk vehicles.

Chizek said having both ordinances is redundant, as, for the most part, they both contain the same information.

“I’m not sure why we ever had a 55 and a 141, because they both deal with junk vehicles,” Chizek said.

The review of the ordinances came about because of the city’s efforts to improve the appearance of the town.

Council members also approved a 3 percent raise for city firefighters and the purchase of two air-makeup units for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

 

To view this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal, click here.

Last modified: March 5, 2019

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