Janesville City Council considers recruitment profile for manager

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Friday, May 24, 2013

— The Janesville City Council would like the job description for the new city manager to be less depressing—and more concise.

On Thursday, the Janesville City Council reviewed a three-page “recruitment profile.” The profile was developed by Karl Nollenberger, vice president of Voorhees Associates, the firm hired by the city to create the job description, which is the first step in hiring a new city manager.

Former Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt left the city in May to take a job in California. The council appointed assistant city manager, Jay Winzenz, to serve as interim city manager in the meantime.

In creating the recruitment profile, Nollenberger spoke to 51 people, including city council members, department and division heads, business leaders, community partners and residents.

The result was a three-page document outlining the city’s “challenges and opportunities” and the experience and personality traits the city would like to see in its next manager.

The “challenges and opportunities” section included such items as the loss of state funding and the imposition of levy limits, economic development and job creation to offset the impact of the loss of the General Motors plant, improving the downtown, neighborhood restoration, improving employee morale and coping with the fact that in the next six years, about 20 percent of the city’s workforce is eligible to retire.

Council member Doug Marklein acknowledged that Janesville wasn’t “Emerald City” but said he would like to see the wording be a little more upbeat.

“I’d like to see you spinning these more as opportunities than challenges,” Marklein said. “I think it’s a little heavy on the negative.”

Council President Kathy Voskuil agreed.

Council members wondered, too, if it was necessary to mention employee morale in such a blunt fashion.

City employees in Janesville are struggling with the aftereffects of Act 10, the law that stripped away most government employees’ collective bargaining rights.

It also increased the amount workers had to pay into their retirement funds.

Nollenberger said he was hesitant to add it to the recruitment profile, but because it was mentioned so often in interviews, he thought it was only fair to add it.

And council member Sam Liebert said that the morale issue was a serious one, and he didn’t want to see it “swept under the rug.”

Council members Brian Fitzgerald and Matt Kealy expressed concerns about the length of the document—and the number of suggested requirements.

“Not even Bill Gates could meet all of these,” Fitzgerald said.

The council met in open session to discuss the profile and then met in closed session to consider hiring a recruitment firm and discuss other issues related to the process.

The council will discuss the issue in open session at its meeting Tuesday, May 28, Voskuil said.

Last updated: 10:32 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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