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Newport Library Director Ted Smith is offered job as temporary city manager

Ted Smith The next "big fish" at Newport City Hall

Ted Smith, Newport Library Director
The next “big fish” at Newport City Hall

With the recent resignation of Jim Voetberg from his job as city manager, the city council Thursday evening asked Newport Library Director Ted Smith to take over the riens of the city until a permanent replacement for Voetberg could be hired. When contacted at his home Smith told councilor Dick Beemer that he’d like to think about it, but that he’s 99% sure he’ll take it.

The appointment would be for several months at least, until the city council goes through a re-draft of the city manager’s job, responsibilities, qualifications and other attributes and then recruits candidates. At the minimum, the new city manager will be required to have a college degree in Public or Business Administration (or other applicable degree). It is preferred that she or he be an International City Manager’s Association Credentialed Manager and Project Management Certified.

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The council gave itself a time line to hire a new permanent city manager which includes putting a recruitment notice out in June and accept applications until the end of August. The council will then interview the candidates and settle on a winner and have her or him on board by late September.

After selecting Smith, councilors said any department head is fully capable of filling in as interim city manager and that City Finance Director David Marshall or Public Works Director Tim Gross would be well qualified especially. But they agreed that both those managers are running departments that are totally swamped with work and projects and it wouldn’t be smart to pile more work onto them.

Should Smith take the job he’ll get a ten percent pay boost. The council said at the outset that they preferred to hire the interim city manager from within the ranks, in that whoever it is, will have a great deal of knowledge and experience with city issues. It would also not require that the city council pay an outsider full salary and benefits for up to four to five months.

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As a side note, City Councilor Mark Saelens said just before the meeting that he was interested in applying for the city manager’s job. He said he felt compelled to bring it up when he did because he could not ethically participate in a discussion about what the council would like to set as minimum qualifications to apply for the job. So he announced he’s interested in the job and therefore he would recuse himself from the council table.

Saelens said he’s spent a lifetime of public service and would like to explore an application for the city manager job as the next step in his evolution of service to the community. He says he’ll wait to see how the council develops its set of specifics on qualifications for the job.

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