Charlottesville has selected a firm to lead the search for its next city manager.
The city signed the $42,500 contract with Ralph Andersen & Associates of Rocklin, California, on Wednesday.
The firm will lead the search for a successor to former City Manager Tarron Richardson, whose tenure ended on Sept. 30 after he and the City Council mutually agreed to part ways. He received a lump-sum severance payout of $205,000, equivalent to one year’s salary, and will have city health insurance for another year, unless he finds another job in that time.
The contract requires the firm to complete a brochure for the position by Jan. 4 and conduct a 60-day search for candidates. The consultant will recommend a slate of candidates to the city by March 22, followed by interviews with finalists in the week of April 5. A contract offer is expected by the week of April 12.
The $42,500 price tag is a base amount and the city can amend the contract to add other services. If the city requires reference calls for more than one candidate, it will be charged $1,800 per candidate. An organizational and community survey will cost $5,000 and other services would be included at varying hourly rates.
The firm’s website does not list all executive searches it has led. However, it does feature a blog with announcements of hirings. None of the announcements were for Virginia localities. It appears the closest geographic hire occurred with Charlotte, North Carolina, City Manager Marcus Jones in 2016.
Richardson was also selected through a search firm.
In October 2018, the city hired S. Renee Narloch & Associates for $25,000. The Tallahassee, Florida, company had helped to find several city managers in that state, but had not led the search for a top administrator in a Virginia city, until Charlottesville.
City Attorney John Blair has been serving as interim city manager since Oct. 1, with Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson filling the role of acting city attorney.
Richardson’s departure continued a tumultuous time for city leadership since the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally.
Blair is the fourth person to lead the city since Jan. 1, 2018. Maurice Jones’ contract was not renewed in the fallout of the Unite the Right rally and he was succeeded by Mike Murphy in an interim role. Murphy held the position until Richardson took over in May 2019.
Prior to Jones’ departure, Charlottesville only had four city managers over 70 years: Jones, Gary O’Connell, Cole Hendrix and James Bowen.