Council vetting search firms for Village Manager recruitment; also looking to refinance debt portfolio
The Key Biscayne Village Council has begun to “fast track” its process to replace Village Manager Andrea Agha and on Tuesday night heard presentations from eight professional search firms. No action was taken to select a firm.
Agha unexpectedly resigned on Sept. 24 and is currently serving out her final 90 days on the job. 90 days as specified in her contract. On Sept. 29, council asked Agha to get quotes from search firms to lead the recruiting process.
Mayor Mike Davey, having been through similar searches twice before, on Tuesday said replacing the village manager is “the most important decision” the council is required to make. He stressed that the council must aim high in selecting a search firm that will find the candidate that best fits the community.
Davey said the council has missed the mark on finding a lasting village manager. “We keep seeming to make the same error. We miss what the community wants.’’ he said, adding that this was not a reflection on Agha or others.
At their meeting Tuesday, some council members expressed surprise at the number and qualifications of the submitting firms, as well as the recruiting process.
Prior to the presentations, council member Ed London expressed some reservations on the search firms’ plans for advance meetings to get to know the council and community, while other council members, as well as representatives from most of the eight firms, said this initial step is the key to determining which candidates to put forward.
Following the search firms’ presentations, London suggested asking each firm why they want to meet with the council and community, and why their firm should be selected. Council agreed to the suggestion and will send the firms additional questions before the next meeting, at which the decision on the search firm will likely be considered.
London also asked the council to seek potential local candidates from the private sector with both public and private sector management experience rather than weighting the process strictly toward experience in municipal government work.
Council members stressed that Agha’s replacement will be made by the new council after the Nov. 3 election.
Council member Ignacio Segurola said he remains against assigning a temporary interim manager who is not seeking the position, as had been suggested, because “playing musical chairs” with department heads would just cause confusion and chaos.
In other action, Agha reported that village staff and others have spent months looking at the village’s debt portfolio for possible re-financing opportunities. Those opportunities could result in an annual savings estimate to the village of $450,000 to $700,000, she said. After a first reading on the issue, expected at the next meeting, the village will seek proposals from financial institutions.
Also, Vice Mayor Brett Moss received a council consensus to create a Citizen’s Financial Oversight Board similar to boards in other communities. Moss will seek resumes from interested locals with financial backgrounds for consideration at the next council meeting.
Davey ended the meeting with a request that the council follow Robert’s Rules of Order by establishing a “standing rule” concerning time limits for discussions. It would help keep the meetings – often more than four hours long --- moving along. Council member Luis Lauredo agreed, in concept, but said council members “have to have clear and ample time” to discuss matters. Davey said he will raise the issue again at the next meeting.
The next Village Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 6 p.m.