Timeline, costs for the 2-year search for Savannah’s next city manager

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A WTOC update on the years-long search for a permanent city manager in Savannah.

Mayor Van Johnson says three finalists will be in the Hostess City this weekend for final interviews and community panels.

The finalists includes current Savannah Assistant Manager Heath Lloyd, Cincinnati’s assistant city manager Sheryl Long, and Jay Melder, assistant city administrator of Washington DC.

Mayor Johnson says he hopes Council can reach a unanimous decision within the next two weeks.

The search for a new city manager has been going on for more than two years now.

Since the resignation of Rob Hernandez back in 2019, the recruitment process has happened twice. Council failed to reach a consensus decision on three candidates back in September of 2020.

In April of 2019, City Manager Rob Hernandez announced he was resigning after two and a half years on the job. On May 16 of that year, Hernandez went on medical leave, and former Assistant Chatham County Manager Pat Monahan took over as interim.

On March 12, 2020, the City Council hired Ralph Anderson and Associates to search for candidates to fill the position.

On September 8, 2020, Council announced they had selected 3 finalists for the role.

The three finalists toured the city on the weekend of September 18 and 19, participating in community panels with local leaders.

Then, on September 29, Mayor Johnson announced that Council was quote “nowhere near” a consensus on the candidates.

He said there wasn’t a majority vote on even one of the candidates.

On October 2, 2020, interim city manager Pat Monahan announced he would be stepping down from the role. Monahan had initially been brought on for 10 months, but ended up serving for 18.

Former City Manager Michael Brown returned to the role on November 2.

In January, Council hired Development Associates to begin the search process again.

Then, last Tuesday, Council announced the selection of three new finalists.

The City has spent more than $60,000 of taxpayer money on the search. The two search firms charged combined fees of more than $58,000. And the first three finalists that were not selected had travel expenses of at least $3,000.

After all of that time and money spent, in April, Mayor Johnson said that at this point, he’d take a 5 to 4 vote to approve a finalist.

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