City deals with vacant manager position

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
On Oct. 15 the West Liberty City Council discussed both long-term and short-term solutions for filling the role of city manager. It also appointed WL Police Chief Lawrence McNaul as interim city manager.

The council voted to terminate the contract of former city manager Chris Ward on Oct. 10, leaving the position vacant. He was let go after the revelation that tin and plastic are not recycled from West Liberty.

In response, Police Chief McNaul volunteered to fill the position temporarily until a more permanent person can be found.

"You need that face out there, I believe I can provide that," said McNaul. "I'm here, I'd like to use what I have."

McNaul, along with the mayor and council, agreed that the city needs one person at the head of the departments to keep everything running smoothly.

"Right now there is a lack of leadership," said Mayor Thomas, "The staff needs to know there's one person they can go to."

McNaul has a BS in public administration and management. Having experience as a chief deputy and in the military he says he's handled large tasks such as this before.

"The city is not without a police chief," he told the Index. "I'm there and I'm available. We are going to re-arrange some of the hours between Captain Meir and myself so we can best accommodate the city."

It's unclear how long he'll hold the position of Interim City Manager, but he made it clear he'll be willing to step back once the position is filled.

"I saw a need, and some of the discussion was possibly outsourcing to someone which may have come at a greater cost," he added. "I'm here and I feel like I can help bear the burden."

According to McNaul, it's not uncommon for smaller communities to have one person be the police chief and city manager temporarily.

On that note, Mayor Thomas was thankful to the city's staff in how they handled the first few days after Ward's termination during the meeting.

"I think the city staff has done a tremendous job stepping up the last few days," he said.

To fill the position of city manager permanently, the Mayor suggested using an independent search firm to look for candidates as opposed to putting the entire search on the city.

He believes a firm would open up the largest talent pool, bringing good candidates to the council. It's not clear how long the search would last, but it may take months to find someone appropriate for the position.

The council agreed, and voted in favor of looking for a firm 5-0.

In other news:

- The council approved the official time for trick-or-treating in West Liberty. It will take place 6-7 p.m. on Oct. 31.

-The city is currently picking up piles of leaves around town. The first two weeks of November have been designated for open burning.

-The council approved Iris Rodriquez to the Library Board. She was recommended by Library Director Janette McMahon.
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