Christiansburg is no closer to naming a new town manager than it was four months ago.
The town council met behind closed doors last week and decided to re-advertise the opening for new applicants. The decision comes on the heels of council interviewing as many as five people in two separate closed sessions.
Many have wondered why it has taken so long—more than six months to this point.
The position has been open since the unexpected death of Steve Biggs, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April.
Biggs, who had been on the job less than a year, was hired with the help of Springsted/Waters, a Richmond-based recruitment firm that charged $6,000.
The town is once again paying Springsted/Waters $19,500 to help in the recruitment process, according to town spokesperson Melissa Demmitt.
Mayor Michael Barber said he is not totally opposed to re-advertising the position.
“I feel in order to bring closure to our search, and to truly have a vetted pool of candidates, this is not a bad thing. The position has been vacant for almost six months which means there is that amount of money that has not been spent on the manager’s salary,” he said.
Barber said council chose to re-open the search in order to reach a broader pool of candidates.
Councilman Harry Collins agrees with Barber.
“I voted to re-advertise because we have to ensure we are getting the best possible person for the job of Town Manager of Christiansburg. We owe it to the citizens of Christiansburg to ensure the best person is selected and will be here for quite a while. A lot of good people have applied for the position, but not everyone is well suited for every job. We are looking for that perfect fit or as close to it as we can get,” he said.
Council attempted originally to do the search on its own, instead of using outside help.
“We found early on that we needed help and engaged Springsted/Waters to help with a line of questions and background checks. We have used Springsted/Waters several times and have been pleased with the scope of their ability to attract quality applicants,” Barber said.
The tentative schedule calls for new interviews to be held in early to mid-February and will allow council’s newest member, Melissa Sachs, to participate in the process.
Councilman Brad Stipes her addition to council was another reason to reopen the search.
“We also recognize now that we will soon have a new council member, Ms. Merissa Sachs, at the table and most of us feel that she should be a part of this,” he said.
Neither Stipes nor Barber feels that the town has lost a step in the day-to-day operations with the vacancy.
“Our interim manager has performed the duties well and I feel we continued to operate at maximum levels. I have been impressed with how well our entire staff have stepped up and worked together to keep business as usual,” the mayor said.
“The town is in excellent shape right now. Mr. Wingfield and our staff have been and are doing an outstanding job, especially in the wake of the tumultuous events earlier this year. As for the timeline, Ms. Sachs takes her seat in January, and I expect things will move pretty quickly at this point,” Stipes said.
Assistant Town Manager Randy Wingfield has been acting as the interim town manager for the past few months. His salary increased from $113,000 to $130,000, according to Demmitt. He applied for the position and was among at least six people that were interviewed in the last month.
The article “Christiansburg to re-advertise town manager position“ in the Nov. 22 issue of the paper had an incorrect byline. Contributing writer Marty Gordon wrote the story. The News Messenger regrets the error.
The article “Christiansburg to re-advertise town manager” in the Nov. 22 edition incorrectly stated how much the town has spent on past and present town manager searches. Christiansburg gave hiring firm Springsted/Waters approximately $20,000 to aid in the search that led to former Town Manager Steve Biggs being hired. After his death last spring, the town gave the firm $6,000 to help in the interviewing process, while just last week reopening the search and paying Springsted/Waters an additional $19,5000. The News Messenger regrets the error.