The search for Austin's next city manager will be ramping up in early 2024, as the application period for interested candidates opens in early January ahead of an anticipated final selection in the spring.

What's happening

Austin's government has been operating under an interim city manager, Jesús Garza, since City Council fired former City Manager Spencer Cronk in February.

Officials began preparing to find his permanent successor a few months later, and in October agreed to a $150,000 contract with Mosaic Public Partners to launch and carry out the national search.

Now, Mosaic has wrapped up the early stages of that process and "a lot of activity" is coming in early 2024, Mayor Kirk Watson said.

Mosaic representatives recently met with members of the council subcommittee overseeing the search—Watson; Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis; and council members Vanessa Fuentes, Chito Vela and Leslie Pool—and have also gathered lists of community members and organizations all city officials want involved in the upcoming city manager selection.

Council members will continue to work with Mosaic to discuss their hopes for the new manager's qualifications while the Mosaic team reaches out to work with the many stakeholders identified by council so far.

What's next

The application period for Austin's city manager job will officially begin Jan. 8 and run through Feb. 12. Watson said the opening for the city's top government position is already attracting attention.

"[Mosaic principals] say there is strong interest in the job and that they expect there will be a good number of applicants. Based on their experience, they anticipate some good candidates will wait until the process is almost closed before applying," Watson said on council's message board Dec. 26.

After all submissions are in, Mosaic will review the candidates and work with council to develop a shortlist of finalists in early March.

A "robust selection process" involving both elected officials and the public will follow, Watson said, with the goal of choosing the new city manager by mid-April—although that timeline and the manager's actual start date are not locked in.

The process could wrap up well before council's annual mid-August budget deliberations, an original target for the new manager's start date.

Depending on their situation, Watson said the chosen candidate could start working at City Hall quickly after council's final selection or farther out in the year.

"I want to emphasize that because this is such a big decision, we shouldn't feel rushed in any way. Additionally, we may pick someone that, for personal or professional reasons, can't start until later," Watson said. "Under some circumstances, we may decide that an actual start date for our selection should be later in the year so that, for example, we've completed the budget process."