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Are recruitment costs worth it?

City wants to attract most qualified applicants but some question the cost
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville has gone through two interim fire chiefs since former Chief Ken Wagner took an early retirement incentive in November 2010 and a permanent chief has now been hired — with the help of a head hunter.

Marcus Reed will start as chief Feb. 6.

Using a recruiter to fill key executive positions isn’t unusual for cities and counties throughout California. Roseville-based Bob Murray and Associates recruiting firm has about 20 positions listed on its website for cities such as Palo Alto, Sacramento and Modesto.

Roseville has paid a total of $58,571 in recruitment services for three positions since 2010 — the city manager, police chief, and parks, recreation and libraries director.

The City Council approved a contract not to exceed $24,500 for the fire chief recruitment, and is currently using outside help to find a new public works director for a contract of no more than $23,300.

“Recruiters have a broader perspective of the industry and know which organizations around the region, state and nation are the most progressive in training and grooming potential candidates,” said city spokeswoman Megan MacPherson. “They’re familiar with the rising stars in those fields, their track records and their organizations. It’s their business to track that information.”

The city solicits help as a way to include “passive” applicants as candidates. This means they’re not actively seeking a new job but recruiters recognize them as a good fit for a position.

“Recruiting firms (can) make contact with people they think would be a good fit and convince them to apply,” MacPherson said.

These companies also offer confidentiality, she said, which is important to applicants who want their names kept secret. Many of these candidates are already at-will employees in high-level positions.

But not everyone is pleased with this process.

“We claim to hire only the ‘best and the brightest’ but too often when decisions must be made, we have to hire consultants to advise the city on the issue,” said Jack Wallace, of Friends of Roseville, a citizens’ watchdog group. “This definitely applies to hiring personnel as well. I believe city staff is perfectly capable of handling the necessary advertising and screening of applicants to replace key personnel.”

He said the city could save thousands of taxpayers’ dollars by reducing its reliance on consultants.

Here’s a look at Roseville’s recruitment since 2010:

City manager: Former Sacramento City Manager Ray Kerridge joined Roseville’s staff in May 2010, following the dismissal of Craig Robinson in November 2009.

Robinson had served as city manager since 2003. Kerridge’s hire concluded a six-month nationwide search that attracted 63 applicants. The city paid Bob Murray and Associates $15,064 to find potential candidates. Kerridge now earns a salary of $251,433.

Police chief: Daniel Hahn was sworn in as Roseville's police chief in April, following the retirement of Mike Blair. Hahn was previously a captain with the Sacramento Police Department, where he worked for 23 years.

For $20,762, Bob Murray and Associates conducted a nationwide search that attracted 62 applicants. Six candidates underwent an interview process with three panels of community leaders and law enforcement experts. Hahn earned the panels’ unanimous recommendation. He was hired at a salary of $174,000.

Parks, recreation and library director: Dominick Casey relocated his family to Roseville in August to become parks and recreation director for a salary of $175,282, following the retirement of Jeff Dubchansky. Casey had served as deputy director of parks and recreation for the city of Henderson, Nev., where he worked for 17 years.

Roseville paid $22,744 to Peckham and McKinney to find Casey, who was selected out of a field of more than 100 applicants.

Fire chief: Reed previously worked as division chief for Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue in Oregon and has 29 years of experience in fire service. He replaces Interim Fire Chief Wynn Latta, who was sworn in for a six-month term in July. Latta took over for Interim Chief Dean Grundy who replaced Wagner.

The city’s initial nationwide search spanned more than six months, but came up short. Roseville paid Terri Black and Company $16,500 plus expenses not to exceed $8,000 for recruitment assistance.

Public works director: On Dec. 21, Roseville City Council approved a contract with Bob Murray and Associates not to exceed $23,300 to find a public works director. This will fill the spot previously held by Rob Jensen, who was promoted to assistant city manager of operations in December 2010. The position is currently held on an interim basis by Rhon Herndon.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

READERS: The Press Tribune wants to know what you think about the city's use of recruitment firms to fill executive positions. Please email a letter to the editor to michellec@goldcountrymedia.com or post in the comment section below.