It’s back to the drawing board

Stu Skauge, councilman, Ishpeming City Council

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council will start over with its search for a new city manager, this time with the help of the Michigan Municipal League.

The council voted 3-1 to approve a $14,000 expenditure for consulting services through the MML on Wednesday.

Councilman Stu Skauge voted against the measure and Councilwoman Lindsay Bean was absent from the meeting.

The MML will offer services such as marketing and advertising, a community profile and marketing brochure, three personal visits with a search facilitator, personal pre-screening of viable applicants, reference checks and development of custom interview questions.

The position was offered on July 31 to Fred Ventresco, former town administrator in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, who declined the offer Tuesday, Mayor Karl Lehmann said.

Ventresco declined the position, in part, due to the fact that the council vote to offer him the position was not unanimous.

“He was concerned that it was a 4-1 vote and he didn’t want issues about gaps in his employment to become problematic for both the council and for him,” Lehmann said.

Prior to offering the job to Ventresco, the council voted 3-2 during a June 6 meeting to hire former Ishpeming Department of Public Works Director Jon Kangas for the position. Kangas also declined, instead taking a position at Marquette Township.

Lehmann said finding a city manager turned out to be more of a challenge than some councilors expected.

“Three months ago, maybe more, we started this whole procedure and I remember hearing specifically, ‘Well, it’s not rocket science.’ Well, we have managed to elevate it to quantum physics, and I am convinced in my own mind that we should have gone the other direction through the Michigan Municipal League,” Lehmann said. “I stand by that. I am not personally going to entertain any more shots in the dark.”

Councilman Pat Scanlon agreed.

“We gave it a valiant effort and we saved some money, but we didn’t get anywhere,” Scanlon said. “The MML has a proven track record, they know what we are looking for. They do the background search when we get there. It’s an all-in-one. It’s time to pay the piper.”

He said the MML could help in portraying the city in a more positive light.

“I think the MML is an avenue that can help us with (the) negativity, I guess,” Scanlon said. “I, myself, have professed to try and be more positive, to try to get along, to try to see other councilors’ points.”

The city has been searching for a manager since Mark Slown submitted his resignation in March. His last day with the city was June 6. Finance Director Jim Lampman has been serving as interim city manager during this time.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.