Port Arthur leaders say they are not worried with city manager search delay

Published 1:14 am Saturday, October 19, 2019

Port Arthur leaders were supposed to receive an update on the city’s $24,500 search for a city manager this week.

If such an update is in, no one is saying.

Trameka Williams, Port Arthur human resources director, previously told The News an updated report should be made available Oct. 14. That report has not been made public and Williams did not return a phone call Friday.

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Councilmen Thomas Kinlaw III and Cal Jones said they are not concerned about any delays in the search.

“I just hope we get the right one this time,” Jones said. “Hopefully, it will be soon. But we waited this long, so we might as well take our time so we can get this right.”

Kinlaw said that (search firm) Baker Tilly is doing a good job finding quality candidates.

“My view is that I hope that we would be brought something back by Tuesday, the 22nd (when the city council convenes again at 8:30 a.m.),” he said. “It is a lengthy process to find the most experienced and most qualified candidate for the job.”

The city manager search might be adding another local candidates as Port Arthur interim city manager Ron Burton said he has not applied but is thinking about it.

“As the interim city manager, I try to let the human resources manager handle all those issues and the search group,” Burton said.

By not getting involved, the search stays “very, very clean” in procedure, he added, just in case he develops an interest.

A press release from the city dated Sept. 30 revealed that was the deadline for a first review.

Representatives from Baker Tilly did not return a call seeking comment.

Three people have served as Port Arthur city managers in the interim since November 2017, when Brian McDougal resigned from the permanent role. Harvey Robinson served immediately after McDougal until this past spring, then Rebecca Underhill took over until retiring in August.

An in-house search for the permanent position that began in December 2018 stalled in March.

Meanwhile, Burton continues to trust the search process.

“We have a contract with them,” Burton said, referring to Baker Tilly. “As soon as they’re through with the process, they would inform us. We’re just waiting on them to go through the process. I’m sure they will.”

The city offers a base salary range of $177,694 to $203,356, dependent on experience, among other benefits.


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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