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September 25, 2020 - 1:40pm

An update of the direction that the Batavia City Council will take in filling the vacant city manager position is on the agenda of Monday night’s Conference Meeting at City Hall Council Chambers.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. previously indicated that the board would make its plan public at Monday’s meeting.

The choices boil down to utilizing a stipulation in a contract with The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, to receive a “free professional search” or to hire Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, who has been serving in that capacity since the June departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

The Novak Consulting Group assisted in the search to hire Moore in August of 2018. The firm’s agreement with the city included a free search should Moore leave within two years of his employment date.

City Council met in executive session earlier this week to, in all likelihood, discuss the city manager position.

Should Council decide to conduct a full search as it did in the case of the Moore hiring, it would consist of forming a screening committee to evaluate potential candidate resumes and, eventually, conduct interviews.

Jankowski has acknowledged there will be costs associated with the search that would not be covered by Novak’s guarantee, such as advertising in national trade publications and travel expenses.

The board could bypass a manager search and offer the job to Tabelski, who was hired as assistant city manager in August of last year.

In a related development, Council will consider a resolution on Monday’s meeting agenda to give Tabelski $1,000 per month in addition to her regular salary – effective July 20, 2020 – for assuming additional duties and responsibilities in the absence of a city manager. The stipend would continue until the city manager position is permanently filled.

Other agenda highlights include:

  • An application from the Downtown Business Improvement District to hold Christmas in the City from 2 to 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. A parade from Jefferson Avenue to Liberty Street is set for 6 p.m. Estimated costs for the event are $480 for police coverage, $276.42 for public works assistance and $1,425.71 for bureau of maintenance duties.
  • An audit presentation by Laura Landers of Freed Maxick concerning the city’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. Landers and Tabelski met with the City of Batavia Audit Advisory Committee on Aug. 18 to review the documents, and answered questions pertaining to fund transfers, debt service payments, fund balances (including water and sewer), the city’s self-insurance plan and the impact of decreased sales tax revenue.
  • A resolution authorizing a foreclosed house at 50 Oak St. to be transferred (for $1) to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation. If approved, it would be the 11th home acquired by Habitat from the City of Batavia. A memo from Tabelski to Council indicates that Habitat plans to invest between $58,000 and $62,000 to renovate the one-family house, which is assessed at $62,000. The Batavia Housing Authority is partnering with the city in this venture.
  • A resolution to schedule a public hearing on Oct. 26 to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages in I-1 industrial zones with a special use permit. This change stems from a January request by Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvement, to construct an auto service station on the property at 653 Ellicott St. The zoning text change has been approved by the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee and the Genesee County Planning Board.
September 18, 2020 - 12:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

A special executive session of the Batavia City Council has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Board Room on the second floor of the City Centre.

A media release from the city manager’s office indicates the session relates to employment matters.

It is believed the meeting will focus on the vacant city manager position, currently being filled by Rachael Tabelski, who was hired as assistant city manager in August 2019.

Previously, The Batavian reported that Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the board is “gathering more information” and expects to decide on how it will proceed by its next meeting on Sept. 28.

Most likely, Council will interview with Tabelski (possibly on Tuesday) and offer her the job, or conduct a nationwide search – utilizing The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that was used in the search that resulted in the hiring of former City Manager Martin Moore in 2018.

September 15, 2020 - 8:36am

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. is adamant that neither public speakers nor a petition signed by 161 residents will force the board’s hand when it comes to selecting a permanent replacement for City Manager Martin Moore, who left the position on June 20.

 “We’re going to do our due diligence – getting all the information necessary to make an informed decision,” said City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. following Monday night’s Business Meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

Since Moore’s departure, Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been serving as the acting city manager.

Council met in an executive session between a Special Conference Meeting and the Business Meeting last night to discuss personnel matters, with the city manager post at the top of the list.

Jankowski said Council is “gathering more information” and expects a decision of how it will proceed by its next meeting on Sept. 28.

In all likelihood, the choices boil down to interviewing Tabelski and offering her the job, or conducting a nationwide search – utilizing The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that was used in the search that resulted in the hiring of Moore in 2018.

Because Moore left prior to completing two years in Batavia, the Novak firm guaranteed a “free” search for his successor. However, that doesn’t include costs such as advertising in trade publications, expenses incurred to set up interviews (travel costs, for example) and potential moving expenses for the person hired.

It is believed that those additional costs could reach as high as $15,000 to $20,000.

Previously, Jankowski had reported that The Novak Consulting Group would be available to assist the city at the end of this month.

During the public comments portion of last night’s meeting, Batavians Sammy DiSalvo and John Roach spoke on the matter, coming from opposite sides of the fence.

DiSalvo said he supported a full search, pointing to what he called “nepotism” when Tabelski was appointed to the assistant city manager position in August 2018 while her husband, Adam, was a member of City Council.

“Regardless of whether her husband abstained from that vote or not, that is called nepotism,” he said.

“Now I want to fast forward to September 2020 … and this is the first time we’ve heard from any of you about Novak, the company that did the manager’s search, which you get a free search through if city manager left within two years, which he did,” he added.

“They said they could not start until the end of September. Hopefully, they do start that search and you go down that road, rather than just appointing somebody that was appointed while her husband was in a position of power. I don’t think that is really a way that city government should be functioning and that is not a good way to represent the people of Batavia …”

After expressing his dismay with changes in the City Deer Management Plan, DiSalvo ended his five minutes by producing a petition of what he said was 150 signatures (actually 161) of Batavians “who would like a full city search and do not want somebody who is appointed to the position by City Council.”

Next, Roach stepped to the podium, stating that “I take the opposite view on the hiring of the city manager.”

“I think it’s kind of embarrassing that the nine Council people – five of you haven’t been able to say as a majority – ‘Let’s make a decision.’ By now you should have been able to say in executive session, ‘OK, we’re going to go with the headhunter group or we’re going to hire the current assistant city manager,’ ” he said.

Roach then credited Tabelski for moving city business along.

“Obviously, she must be doing a good job,” he said. “The city is functioning well and I cannot for the life of me understand why you people still have to go into meetings to decide to make a plan to have a plan. Either hire her or say no, ‘you don’t cut it, we don’t want you’ – and let her start looking at alternatives. It can’t be that hard to say yes, you’re our choice, or you’re not.”

He also said he heard that a City Council member placed petitions in some businesses.

“I don’t know if that’s appropriate or not,” he said.

Finally, he mentioned Council’s handling of authorizing more pay for those who have took on added responsibilities in the absence of a permanent city manager.

“I’m also a little disappointed that the last time we didn’t have a city manager, everybody voted to give the other staff that were pitching in to do extra work, extra money. And they were all men,” he said. “This time, the same thing – we don’t have a manager and people need a little extra money for doing extra work, and some of you voted no, but they’re women. Coincidence or not? I’ll let you all respond.”

August 11, 2020 - 3:33pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in notify, news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

If the Batavia City Council has a plan to fill the vacancy caused by the departure of former City Manager Martin Moore, it isn’t revealing it – at least not yet.

Acting on the advice of the city attorney, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. today sent an email to The Batavian, stating “it’s still very early in the process. (The) Novak (Consulting Firm) is available and is one of the options City Council is exploring.”

Jankowski said the board is “continuing the search process” but would not elaborate due to it being a personnel matter.

While Jankowski believes it is early in the process to find a permanent replacement for Moore, who left Batavia on June 22, another city resident said Council should have disclosed its plan by now.

John Roach, speaking during the public comments segment of Monday night’s City Council meeting, said council members knew that Moore was on his way out.

“You still haven’t decided what you are going to do about replacing him, and that seems kind of silly,” he said. “Once he said he was leaving, you should have had a meeting and said, ‘OK, let’s get a plan.’ You talk about having a plan and you talk about looking at a plan.”

Roach said he is in favor of hiring of Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, who was brought on last August as the assistant city manager.

“Obviously, the person has been around awhile … you think you’re going to find somebody better?” he asked. “Save a little money -- save a little time -- make a decision. It’s kind of embarrassing that it has been months (actually nearly two months), and you haven’t even decided what the plan is.”

Sammy DiSalvo, a Democratic Party candidate for a City Council at-large seat in 2020, followed Roach to the podium but had a different viewpoint.

“I support holding a full search for a new city manager,” DiSalvo said. “Nepotism is not a way to run a city.”

The Batavian has asked Jankowski on separate occasions if a full search will be conducted, and if so, will Council be contracting with the Novak group out of Cincinnati, Ohio, again to conduct the search.

Novak coordinated the search that brought Moore from Eunice, N.M., to Batavia in August of 2018, and reportedly gave the city a guarantee that the next search would be at no charge if Moore left before completing two full years as city manager.

In a related development, the Valencia County News-Bulletin, a weekly newspaper in New Mexico, reported that Moore is one of 13 candidates for the city manager job in Belen, a city of about 7,400 people about 35 miles south of Albuquerque.

August 6, 2020 - 10:08am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. today said that the next formal discussion about the vacant city manager position will take place in executive session following Monday’s Conference and Business meetings at City Hall Council Chambers.

“We’re in a unique situation where we have an employee who is interested in the position, and would be affected by a public discussion before several important topics are covered,” Jankowski said, speaking of Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “In our previous search two years ago (that resulted in the hiring of Martin Moore), no city employee wanted the job.”

When asked about the progress of a potential job search for Moore’s permanent successor, he said the nine members of City Council “will come together and decide – it’s not up to me, I’m just one person and my personal opinion doesn’t matter.”

“If Council decides to conduct a search, that will made public, and if the decision is different (such as offering the job to Tabelski, who had been the assistant city manager), then that will be made public, too,” he said.

Jankowski said he expects to learn by Monday the status of contracting, once again, with The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that conducted the search in 2018.

Novak reportedly guaranteed a “free” search if Moore left the position within two years of his hiring – which did occur, but Jankowski said he wants to know about other expenses such as advertising in trade publications and possible moving expenses for an out-of-town hire.

At July’s Council meeting, the board requested that Novak be contacted for the answers to those questions.

Tabelski, who has been serving as acting city manager since June 22, then suggested that Human Resources Specialist Dawn Fairbanks make the call since Tabelski has expressed interest in staying on as the city manager and wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski has gone on record in favor of a new search, emphasizing that the board should capitalize on Novak’s two-year warranty.

Jankowski said that he has received emails from residents who are on both sides of the issue.

“We welcome the public’s input and I am confident that Council will proceed in the best interests of the community,” he said.

July 15, 2020 - 4:44pm

The Batavia City Council member who requested that the “process to hire a new city manager” item be placed on this past Monday’s meeting agenda says it is the board’s duty to invest the time and effort necessary to hire the right person for the job.

“I’m a firm believer that we owe it to the citizens of Batavia to do a search and find the most qualified person, and anyone that wants can submit an application. I think that’s important because if we don’t, then the innuendo and rumors will be flying,” Robert Bialkowski said by telephone on Tuesday.

Council discussed the matter for about nine minutes during its Conference Meeting at City Hall, exploring its options as it looks to find a permanent replacement for departed City Manager Martin Moore.

Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been serving at acting city manager since June 22, two days after the City and Moore severed their relationship.

Bialkowski said he put the topic on the agenda because “I wanted Council to make a decision – let’s move forward.”

He said he wasn’t pleased with the placement on the agenda, being that it wasn’t positioned as an item that would result in a resolution.

“If you look at the Conference agenda, it was under the Council president explaining the process,” he said. “I’m noticing some unusual things.”

The councilperson-at-large said the board should take advantage of a “warranty” offered by The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that conducted the search that resulted in Moore’s hiring in August 2018.

“The company offered a full warranty if the manager either was terminated or left on his own accord within two years, and they will stand behind that warranty,” he stated. “You’re not going to find another company to do it any more reasonable."

When the subject came up during the meeting, Council Member Kathleen Briggs asked if a hiring freeze in effect would pertain to filling the position at this time.

After both Council President Eugene Jankowski and Tabelski said it was for part-time employees and didn’t apply to a vacancy, the former suggested contacting Novak to inform its leadership team of the City’s situation.

“Let’s see what kind of feedback we get from them and move forward,” Jankowski said. “It’s only been a few weeks but we don’t want to wait too long.”

At that point, Tabelski indicated that she is interested in the position.

That prompted Jankowski to mention some options – starting a new search and following it through or putting the matter on hold for a month. He then said more details would be discussed in executive session after the Aug. 10 meeting.

“I think we should reach out and see what our option is with that other agency first and once we have that information, we’d have more to decide,” he said.

Council Member John Canale concurred, adding that “most likely we will reach out to them at some point; so, kind of put them on notice.”

“I agree with Bob that it’s important to start the process and then we can, in executive session at some point, get together and start to talk about the candidates,” he said.

Jankowski, choosing his words carefully, then said there were three options.

“If you think about it there are only three options – you can do a whole search and hire somebody, keep what we have in place and make that offer or a combination of both … there’s only three choices there,” he said. “We need to know if that other option (Novak) is off the table for some reason – the company’s no longer in business or they don’t see it the way we see it – that would be an important thing to know.”

Bialkowski said he did an internet search on the company and found that it not only is still in business, but it has expanded.

“The contract we signed with them … the guarantee for this position is two years,” he said. “Should the selected candidate leave or be terminated from the position within two years of being hired, The Novak Consulting Group will conduct a new search for no professional recruiting fee.”

Jankowski said it behooved the board to find out what expenses the City may incur by conducting a new search.

“At a time when things are tight, I want to know exactly what kind of money we’re going to be talking here. … Let’s get some more information and bring in back for August,” he said.

He then asked Tabelski to contact Novak Consulting Group, and she, in turn, said she would assign Human Resources Specialist Dawn Fairbanks “to make those inquiries … so I would not have any knowledge of the process you may or may not entertain as you move forward, working with the city attorney.”

Bialkowski was known to be a supporter of Moore, and he acknowledged that he did vote “no” during the executive session that followed Council’s June 8th meeting. Less than two weeks later, Moore was gone.

Asked on Tuesday if he had hard feelings over Moore’s departure, he said, “I can’t comment on that because it was in executive session. But what I can comment on if you look at the minutes, I did vote “no.” (The vote was 8-1). That’s all I can say.”

Bialkowski then was asked why a vote was necessary if Moore had indeed resigned, which is what he had been quoted as saying in a story in a local newspaper.

“What do you want me to tell you? I know what you want me to tell you but you’re on a fishing trip with no bait,” he responded. “Everything else, we are bound by lawyer, attorney-client privilege in executive session."

He said that finding Moore's replacement is “totally impersonal.”

“I don’t care who applies,” he said. “I can only encourage people to apply.”

August 13, 2018 - 9:46pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

Discussion about the selection of Martin Moore as the new manager of the City of Batavia turned a bit nasty tonight when City Council Member Rose Mary Christian made disparaging remarks about the in-house committee in charge of the vetting process and the consulting firm that was hired to steer the governing body in the right direction.

After Council President Eugene Jankowski and councilpersons-at-Large Adam Tabelski and Robert Bialkowski spoke about the process -- outlining their extensive interviewing, background checks and objectivity, Christian jumped in, first criticizing the Novak Consulting Group and then her three colleagues.

“I thought the Novak Consulting Group did a lousy, lousy job,” she said. “I had asked how many resumes came in and I was told 20 to 25. And from that five were chosen, one was sick, the other had personal problems, and the third person picked another municipality.  All we had was two people to interview.”

Christian also said that there were travel and training expenses as a result of the contract with Novak that she wasn’t aware of and added that she had hoped a current city employee (“an assistant”) would have applied for the job because “the salary ($110,000) was a big challenge for me.”

“I told you guys that I wasn’t going to vote for it. It won’t be unanimous; you’ll have eight yesses and my no.”

All three members of the steering committee responded to Christian’s comments.

“Everyone is entitled to a vote, but to insinuate that Novak was not truthful to us … is very misleading. Novak did a good job,” Tabelski said.

“We received three dozen, not 20, applications and eight to 10 candidates made it to the initial vetting. We then whittled the list down. It’s not the quantity of applicants, but the quality, and we have that.”

Bialkowski agreed, stating that Novak did a “stellar job.”

“They gave us the 10 best and we went from there,” he said.

Jankowski addressed the contract with Novak, noting that “it was all there in the open and you should read the whole packet before you vote on it.”

He then called out Christian (but not by name) for leaving an interview session early.

“I would think you would stay for the whole meeting and not leave for your other job," Jankowski said. "You wouldn’t say 'I don’t have time for this; I have to go to work.' This is one of the most important things that we do.”

Christian took the floor again, saying that she was told there were 20 to 25 applicants and clarifying to say she meant just travel expenses, not training.

It was then she called Jankowski, Tabelski and Bialkowski “the Three Stooges and Frick, Frack and Frank,” or something close to that.

Council Member Al McGinnis defended the trio – “You three did an outstanding job” – and Bialkowski responded, “You don’t resort to name-calling. That’s about as childish as you can get.”

After that, Council voted 9-0 to move the measure to a vote. The decision in favor of Moore was 8-1, with Christian casting the lone “no” vote.

Following the meeting, Jankowski explained why Moore, city manager of Eunice, N.M., for the past seven years, was the last man standing.

“We looked at many applicants and Dr. Moore rose to the top based on his educational level, his experience level, his personality and his experience in his present job,” he said. “He did really well in the interview. Most of Council really found him very favorable, and he just really rose to the top very quickly.”

Jankowski said although Moore is coming from a smaller community, he does have a “lot of education and a lot of background, and he has experience in other communities in his earlier career.

“He went through some really tough times in Eunice, N.M., where they had a serious income (problem) based on the oil industry. Some things dropped off from underneath them, their budget was cut dramatically. He was able to work through that, which I thought, with some very innovative ideas.

“It minimized any loss of jobs, and they were able to keep services continuing even though they took a big hit on their community income. That was very impressive. I liked that thought process and how he was able to handle that.”

Jankowski said that experience gave Moore “a good education” and made him a good fit for Batavia.

“We (Batavia) kind of went through something similar ourselves … and he knew all about that. He had done some research on us as well. I think he found other projects that are going on presently as a very big challenge, and he likes that challenge. And I think he’s going to do very well here.”

As far as Christian’s remarks are concerned, Jankowski said he found it “kind of odd, the combative nature of that whole exchange, and I agree with Councilman Bialkowski when he said that we really shouldn’t (resort to) name-calling.”

In a related matter, Jankowski suggested that the City continue to provide a stipend through the end of the year to the handful of city employees who have been doing extra work since Molino’s departure, including Interim City Manager Matt Worth.

Moore begins his tenure as the City’s manager on Oct. 15.

March 28, 2018 - 9:57pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

catherine_tuck_parrish_novak_firm_1.jpg

The Batavia City Council can expect the process of hiring a new city manager to take at least three months and it should be prepared to pay a salary of at least $110,000, according to a representative of the recruitment firm contracted by the municipality to find someone to replace former City Manager Jason Molino.

Six of the nine council members took part in a meeting at the City Centre conference room tonight with Catherine Tuck Parrish, executive search practice leader for The Novak Consulting Group, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tuck Parrish’s office is in Rockville, Md.

“The market for city managers is what it is … you’re not competing against nonprofits and the private sector,” Tuck Parrish said. “I’ve seen your salary, and you’re going to have a hard time (finding someone at that level).”

Molino ended a nearly 12-year association with the City on Jan. 26, and started his new job as Tompkins County administrator three days later. He left Batavia with a salary of about $94,000; his pay at his new position increased to around $130,000.

Tuck Parrish, during her 60-minute presentation, outlined her company’s proposed recruitment plan – touching on key points such as job postings and outreach, timeline, interview process, and confidentiality and public information. She also distributed a one-pager that set the qualifications for the optimal candidate.

“We’re looking at three deliverables,” she said, calling them a main document, working document and recruitment plan memo.

The main document is a recruitment brochure that “highlights the best of Batavia – the great things about your community,” she said. It also will include the requirements for the job, preferred qualities and how to apply for the position.

The working document is a list of 12- to 18-month goals that “helps me know what is most important to you (City Council) and helps the next manager to say ‘Here’s what I need to do.’ The manager can only focus on so many things and do them well, so this identifies your top priorities.”

The third document, a memo, is the basic recruitment plan that pinpoints where to post the jobs – such as the International City/County Management Association newsletters and the League of Women in Government website, for example – and the related costs, as well as the recruitment schedule and proposed interview process.

Tuck Parrish said her firm will use social media and links, and also “customizes” outreach for each position, including targeting particular individuals.

“If you have an individual or organization (in mind), let me know and instead of you recruiting them, let me handle it,” she said, speaking directly to the council members. “It is my job to protect you.”

As far as the schedule is concerned, Tuck Parrish said telephone interviews with council members, department heads and bureau chiefs were conducted prior to tonight’s briefing. She said she expects drafts of the recruitment plan, brochure and first-year goals to be submitted by April 3 with the board’s final comments on those three items due by April 10.

On April 17, the firm will post the position, place ads and begin outreach to prospective candidates, she said.

“From April 17th through May 29th, that time is our work,” she said, to which Council President Eugene Jankowski replied, “Our goal is to let you do your job and come back to us when you have some candidates.”

That could happen around the week of June 18 when Tuck Parrish will meet with City Council to review the top candidates and select those to be interviewed (in a session closed to the public).

She said that the process must be “completely confidential” to protect both City Council and prospective candidates who, likely, will be employed in similar jobs at the time.

“It’s not that you can’t share names and information during the process, but also after that as well,” she said. “It comes down to a code of silence forever.”

Council members present – John Canale, Rose Mary Christian and Paul Viele were absent – said they would leave it to the recruitment subcommittee of Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski, Adam Tabelski and HR Specialist Dawn Fairbanks to whittle a large field of candidates down to about three, and then the entire board would get involved.

The Novak Group personnel will conduct reference and background checks at the end of June, Tuck Parrish said, with the goal of City Council conducting interviews in early July.

The exact dates are up in the air due to Jankowski having to be in Texas from July 7-27 to film “Shot to the Heart TV,” a shooting competition show involving couples of which he is the host.

Tuck Parrish’s timeline calls for negotiation with the top finalist and approval of the employment agreement happening sometime after July 13, and for the new manager to begin his or her employment within 60 days after that.

Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, minimum of five years of local government experience in progressively responsible positions, and supervisor/executive level experience (including time as city/county manager or assistant manager or department director).

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree, budget development/financial management, grants administration, labor relations, project management, economic revitalization, intergovernmental relations, business/community engagement, strategic planning and credentialed manager.

Tuck Parrish said City Council should expect the new manager to relocate to the City within a “reasonable time after appointment” and set the compensation package at $110,000 to $135,000 (depending upon qualifications), with an excellent benefit package.

She said the expected hiring salary range will be included in the advertising pieces for the position and that she will collect salary information of the finalists.

The contract with The Novak Group calls for the City to pay $23,500 for the firm to "complete the city manager recruitment," plus $1,000-$1,500 for advertising, $175-$300 per top finalist for background checks, and travel costs for finalists to attend interviews in the City.

Photo at top -- Catherine Tuck Parrish, right, makes a point at tonight's city manager recruitment plan meeting; at left is Dawn Fairbanks, City of Batavia HR specialist. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

February 26, 2018 - 11:29pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

Extensive experience in the recruitment for city manager positions, including a successful search for the Oneonta (N.Y.) city manager in 2016, gave The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, the edge in the City of Batavia’s quest to find someone to replace former City Manager Jason Molino.

“You know really, honestly, with references and what was contained with all proposals – they were pretty even, even with the pricing that they were going to charge it was pretty close, so it really came down to their New York State experience,” said City Human Resource Specialist Dawn Fairbanks following tonight’s City Council meeting at the City Centre’s Council Board Room.

In a Special Business Meeting that took place after the regularly scheduled Conference Meeting, Council members voted 9-0 to enter into a contract with Novak to conduct an executive search that, according to officials, could last as long as five months.

Fairbanks said that she will immediately let the other two vendors know that they were not selected and attorneys will prepare the contract for City Council President Eugene Jankowski to sign.

“Tomorrow I will be making contact with all the proposals, with the vendors that submitted proposals and let them know the outcome,” Fairbanks said. “Legal will finish up reviewing the contract so that Council President Jankowski can sign it and then we’ll get the ball rolling.”

Fairbanks was part of the City’s search committee along with Jankowski and Council members Adam Tabelski and Robert Bialkowski.

Tabelski said they received seven proposals and whittled it down to three companies. After reference checks and telephone interviews, Novak was selected.

“One firm rose to the top and that was Novak Consulting Group out of Ohio,” Tabelski said. “They have the most experience and while most (firms) had relatively the same fee, Novak was in the low range.”

Jankowski said Novak’s recruitment team will be interviewing all Council members plus some staff and private citizens. The search – which is estimated to cost the city upwards of $26,200 – will consist of advertising, marketing, identifying and screening potential candidates and interviewing by both Novak and City Council.

Both Jankowski and Fairbanks mentioned Novak’s guarantees that the person who is hired will stay in Batavia for at least two years and that they will not try to recruit that person for a job somewhere else.

Jankowski, partially in response to a question from city resident John Roach, said salary that has not been paid to a city manager or assistant city manager (since both positions are vacant) could be used to offset the cost of the executive search.

In other action, Council moved several agenda resolutions to be voted upon to its next Business Meeting, which is scheduled for March 12:

-- The 2018-19 budget of $26.9 million which calls for a tax levy of $5.25 million and a 2-percent salary increase for 10 supervisors and department heads, effective April 1.

-- Increases in water rates and meter fees (3.5 percent) and capital improvement fees (10 percent).

-- Establishing user fees for City Centre Mall merchants as a result of the litigation settlement that gives the City maintenance responsibilities of the concourse. They also will vote on whether to hire a full-time building maintenance worker (at $14-$18 per hour) and four part-time custodians to work in the mall.

-- Renewal of an agreement with Genesee County to pay 20 percent of the Genesee County Youth Bureau director's time providing administrative services for the City Youth Bureau, and revising the Youth Bureau bylaws.

-- Securing Bond Anticipation Notes for $3.3 million as up-front funds to complete street and sidewalk improvement projects, and another $750,000 to finance an upgrade in the municipality’s software system. The street and sidewalk funds will be reimbursed to the city as they are federal projects.

-- Accepting a bid from The Tree Doctor, based in Clarence, for annual tree trimming and removal. Depending upon the size of the tree, costs range from $200 to $3,290 per tree, with trimming costs set at $310 per tree.

Council also approved six events:

-- Care-A-Van Ministries cookouts, Thursdays, June 7 through Aug. 30, 5-8 p.m., Austin Park.

-- Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union 5K/10K Walk/Run, May 6, 9-11 a.m., starting at the credit union property on Jefferson Avenue.

-- Kiwanis Club Easter Egg Hunt, March 31, 9 a.m., Centennial Park.

-- GLOW Corporate Cup 5K, Aug. 2, 6 p.m., Centennial Park.

-- Batavia Concert Band series, June 27 through Aug. 8, 7 p.m., Centennial Park.

-- Living Waters Apostolic Ministries outreach, July 22, noon-3 p.m., Austin Park.

February 25, 2018 - 11:51am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

The City of Batavia's search committee that has been formed to fill the vacant city manager position is recommending that The Novak Consulting Group conduct the professional search at an approximate cost of $26,200.

The commitee, consisting of Council members Eugene Jankowski, Adam Tabelski and Robert Bialkowski along with HR Specialist Dawn Fairbanks, will be asking Council to consider the Cincinnati, Ohio, firm during Monday night's Conference Meeting at the City Centre's Council Board Room with the goal of the board casting a positive vote at a Special Business Meeting immediately afterward.

According to a memo from Fairbanks dated Feb. 21, the search commitee received seven responses from executive search services for the recruitment of a manager to replace Jason Molino, who resigned effective Jan. 29.

Fairbanks wrote that the committee narrowed the field down to three finalists, and each of those companies were interviewed via a conference call.

"After careful review, the Search Committee recommends The Novak Consulting Group for the search services ...," Fairbanks wrote.

The proposed contract calls for the City to pay $23,500 for Novak to "complete the city manager recruitment," with additional costs as follows: $1,000-$1,500 for advertising, $175-$300 per top finalist for background checks, and travel costs for finalists to attend interviews in the City.

The Novak Consulting Group was founded in 2009 by Julia D. Novak, whose resume lists 30 years of experience working with and for local governments. A consultant, trainer and facilitator, Novak's local government career includes positions in Fort Collins, Colo.; Lexington, Mass.; Rockville, Md,; and Rye, N.Y. (where she was the city manager).

She is a noted author and speaker on a variety of public administration management topics. Her staff includes consultants with decades of collective experience.

Details of the executive search contract's work plan for the City of Batavia, as provided by Novak, are as follows:

-- Develop candidate profile. Tasks include speaking with each member of City Council to learn individual expectations of each elected offical, in addition to discovering the shared goals for a new city manager -- utilizing focus groups and/or online surveys. From those meetings, etc., Novak promises to develop a tailored marketing and recruitment plan that includes New York, the region and the nation, preparing a position profile that is unique to Batavia. Also, the firm says it will develop first-year organizational goals for the successful candidate so he or she knows what will be expected.

-- Conduct active recruitment and screening. Tasks include conducting an advertising campaign -- using social media, phone and email contacts -- to identify and solicit potential candidates. After that is completed, the firm will market the position and identify qualified candidates for assessment, utilizing networks such as the International City/County Management Association, New York State City County Managers Association and other state and regional organizations pertinent to the recruiting process. The recruitment plan includes seeking candidates who are minorities, women and those who have worked in similar communities.

-- Support interviews and selection. Tasks include facilitating a customized, multistep interview process, which could consist of writing and role play exercises and/or a community reception. Novak will help arrange travel logistics for each candidate, and review candidates' strengths and backgrounds. The firm also is able to assist in salary negotiations.

The contract would be good for two years, with the guarantee that if the new hire leaves the position within two years time, Novak would conduct a new search for no professional fee. The City would then be responsible for billed direct expenses only.

Novak has assigned Catherine Tuck Parrish, who has conducted more than 100 searches for city manager/administrator jobs, and Jenn Reichelt, who has 16 years of experience in local government management, as the executive search practice leader and associate, respectively.

Other items on the Conference Meeting agenda include:

-- Public hearings for the budget ordinance; water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees; establishing a user fee for the City Centre Mall, and amending the Business Improvement District Plan.

-- Creation of a full-time building maintenance worker and four part-time custodians as part of the City's Public Works Department to cover the operation and maintenance of the Mall concourse as a result of the City's agreement with the mall merchants association.

-- A resolution for an inter-municipal agreement with Genesee County for the City to pay 20 percent of the Genesee County Youth Bureau director's time spent providing administrative services for the City Youth Bureau.

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