A national search to find Manatee County’s next county administrator has officially started.
Rodney Barnes, the county’s human resources director, told commissioners that a request for proposals for an executive search firm to conduct the search would be issued Tuesday. Proposals are due March 28.
Barnes said the target is to have a contract in place for the next county administrator by the end of November. It typically costs between $25,000 to $30,000 for a national search, Barnes added.
“These firms that will propose will be very experienced in all of this,” he said, adding that they will have ideas and tools.
The search will be to replace County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, whose current contract expires Jan. 29, 2018. Last December, the commission voted 4-3 to proceed with a national search to replace Hunzeker rather than extend his contract.
The commissioners voting in favor of a national search were Vanessa Baugh, Robin DiSabatino, Steve Jonsson and Charles Smith. Voting against a search were commissioners Betsy Benac, Priscilla Whisenant Trace and Carol Whitmore.
“This is a huge decision for this community,” Benac said. “We’ve had a lot of people weigh in. ... People are still very, very concerned about this decision.”
In the months since the December vote, there has been tension among commissioners about the subject, including during Tuesday’s meeting after Whitmore made a motion, which she later rescinded before the vote, to end the national search and extend Hunzeker’s contract for 12 to 18 months.
Jonsson acknowledged that he was the “swing vote,” but it is time to proceed.
“I’m pretty much convinced with this group that it’s never over with,” Jonsson said.
Several community members, county department directors and residents attended Tuesday’s discussion.
“This is a huge decision, a huge decision and it could last a long time and we want it to be right,” Manatee County resident Ed Goff said.