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DL starts search for new administrator

Longtime Detroit Lakes City Administrator Rich Grabow is retiring Sept. 30, and the city is preparing for his departure by considering how best to look for a replacement.

"I've been thinking and contemplating what would be the best thing to do," Mayor Larry Buboltz said at a meeting for council members to discuss the hiring process. Although a committee was formed -- consisting of aldermen Matt Brenk, Jim Anderson, Bruce Imholte and GL Tucker -- all the council members were invited to attend.

Buboltz said it's not too often the city has to replace a city administrator -- after all, Grabow has 23 years with the city.

Buboltz suggested the city hire a search firm, or headhunter, to find the best candidate.

"I frankly think if we don't hire (one), we'd get good applications, but have to do more background," Buboltz said.

A search firm would lead the city through the entire process for the price of about $22,000.

From the proposals by two search firms -- Brimeyer and Springsted -- they would conduct interviews for the initial applicants over the phone and then narrow it to about 10 face-to-face interviews. Then bringing a few candidates to the city, the council would have final say on the person to hire.

"They start with a better pool," Tucker said.

Interested people can contact the search firm confidentially without revealing their interest publicly, rather than having to apply to the city directly and risk having their current employers know they are looking elsewhere, he added.

Besides having the larger pool of candidates available, Tucker said the process of hiring and getting the word out is completely changing, naming the Internet as a No. 1 source.

Imholte agreed the $22,000 would be a "good investment" for the city.

The council will decide on rate of pay, benefits, date of hire and job description before the search firm even starts looking.

Grabow said his replacement wouldn't have to start until he was either done or a week at the most beforehand.

"It's not a rocket science thing here," he said. He added that anyone hired would certainly hit the ground running.

"The process is going to be as important as the pool (of applicants)," Buboltz said.

The mayor agreed to check with other city mayors who have used the two search firms and get some feedback before the committee and council make any contract decisions. They will meet 4:30 p.m. May 1 to make a decision and recommendation.