Missouri City City Council continues to disagree over how to best utilize the services of executive search firm Baker Tilly in its hunt for a new city manager.
At the May 18 council meeting, council voted 4-3 in favor of Baker Tilly conducting a web-based survey of Missouri City residents to identify issues and priorities to consider when selecting the next city manager.
Under the motion by Council Member Vashaundra Edwards, Baker Tilly will also perform reference and background checks, assessments and academic verifications on the city’s five leading candidates.
Baker Tilly will charge the city $1,650 to perform the survey and approximately $3,800 to screen the candidates, according to a fee breakdown provided by Baker Tilly. Edwards specified the survey results should be provided back to council by May 31.
While all members of council agreed a community survey is needed, Council Members Jeffrey Boney, Floyd Emery and Anthony Maroulis, who voted against Edwards’ motion, said they felt two weeks was an inadequate amount of time to properly hear from the community and expressed that they wish to use all services Baker Tilly provides.
“I firmly believe we owe it to the community to the residents, the investors, all the businesses and the churches that we use a search firm to the fullest extent,” Maroulis said. “I'm gonna end with this: Sugar Land hired a new city manager...they hired a search firm; they found their next CEO; there was no controversy, no front-page news, no stumbling. They found their CEO. Let's do the right thing. We agreed to Tilly. Let's use Tilly 100%.”
However, a motion presented by Emery to utilize Baker Tilly’s full scope of services failed in a 3-4 vote, along the same lines with Mayor Yolanda Ford, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Preston, Edwards and Council Member Cheryl Sterling voting against.
It would cost Missouri City $24,500 to use all the services offered by Baker Tilly, according to the price breakdown. The community survey would be an additional fee on top of this amount.
“It is of my opinion that the council is responsible for hiring a city manager,” Ford said. “We would know better what we need than any search firm would ever know what Missouri City needs. ... I've been in the city for 41 years. I think I'm very in touch.”
A majority of Missouri City City Council previously voted to contract with Baker Tilly for services at the May 4 meeting.
Five Missouri City residents, including former City Council Member Reginald Pearson, spoke during the public comment portion of the May 18 meeting. Each raised concerns about the hiring process.
“I have a concern with this selection of our city manager as well,” said Rudy White, the pastor of Christian Bible Church. “We got to watch out what we do from here because Missouri City is in an uproar based on the fact how the last city manager was unscrupulously dismissed, unchristian like, and I don't understand why are we creating some more tension because if the council decides to go their own way to select, that's going to raise more suspicion with the community that there is not transparency.”
Missouri City is in need of a new city manager after council voted to remove Anthony Snipes from the role Feb. 24.
City Council met May 12-15 to screen and interview its top five candidates for the city manager job. The top candidates were selected from a pool of about 50 applicants at the May 8 special meeting.
Ford said the applicants and perspective candidates are qualified individuals.
“We've been able to get well over 50 candidates, and then even the pool we do have is beyond qualified,” Ford said. “We have people who have billion-dollar portfolios and economic development, finance backgrounds, law degrees, so it's not like we pulled this pool of chumps. We have very, very qualified people there.”