, Port Arthur, Texas

January 3, 2012

PA expected to hire city manager this month

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

— Port Arthur’s search for a new city manager is in full swing, and the applicants so far seem not only very interested in the job, but qualified, city officials say.

Albert Thigpen, Port Arthur’s director of Parks and Recreation, said the search is going well and should be completed by the end of January, or first part of February.

A new city manager won’t be in place until outgoing manager Steve Fitzgibbons’ last day on Jan. 15 — unless he is asked, and then decides to stay until someone else comes on board to lead the city.

In the meantime, resumes and applications are beginning to come in.

The Mercer Group, the executive search firm hired by the city to assist in finding a new manager, has received a number of qualified candidates, Thigpen said.

“They are now in the screening process, so they can report back to the City Council,” Thigpen said.

Once The Mercer Group gets 15 or so good applicants, they will bring the written applications to the City Council for further review. At that point, Thigpen said, the Council will likely narrow those applicants down to seven or so.

The Mercer Group will then thoroughly vet those and bring the applicants to Port Arthur for personal interviews.

When finalists are named, the public will have opportunity to meet the applicants in some sort of public forum, Thigpen said.

The position will remain open until a city manger is hired.

Because of the holidays, the process is running slightly behind schedule.

Thigpen said there is a provision in Fitzgibbon’s agreement that would allow him to continue as city manager based on the Council and his mutual agreement.

Fitzgibbons declined to say whether he will stay in Port Arthur until a new city manager is hired, but did indicate he had not been asked.

“The goal is for a smooth transition,” Thigpen said. “The Council has maintained they want a very small gap between the departure of the current manager and hiring a new manager.”

Thigpen said so far, city officials are satisfied with The Mercer Group’s efforts, and that the firm was performing up to their agreement.