Three of the 14 applicants who applied for city administrator will be interviewed in coming weeks for the position that has been vacant since last August, during which time Police Chief Richard Howell has served as interim city administrator.

Two of the applicants are from out of town and one is local.

During last week’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen Work Session, Mayor Michael Whisenant said 14 had applied for the job, including former city administrator Scott Collins.

Collins resigned on August 10, 2021, rather than face termination. During the August work session Mayor Michael Whisenant said a resolution would be presented at the August 10 BOMA meeting “to accept Collins’ resignation or to terminate his employment.”

Chuck Downham with Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) assisted in drafting the city’s requirements for the job before posting the job opening. Whisenant said he told Downham that Collins was the reason the city was looking for a city administrator.

The list was narrowed down to three candidates based on experience, education, references and background checks.

A candidate from the Birmingham area was top choice for some of the aldermen with other recommendations to interview the applicant from White House, Tennessee, and the local candidate, who is a city employee.

Vice Mayor Danny Bryant asked if the aldermen preferred interviewing each candidate as a group or individually, saying he preferred individual interviews. “I think you get a better feel when talking to someone face to face,” he said. “That worked well with the fire chief (interviews.) It has to come back to the board anyway and we have to come to a consensus.”

Bryant said the Birmingham candidate was the only one he felt met all the criteria.

Aldermen Roger Martinez, Tonya Allen and Dorothy Small spoke positively about the local applicant.

According to the city’s job description requirements, candidates “should possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in public administration, business administration, or a field closely related to municipal management and a minimum eight years of leadership and supervisorial experience in city management including supervisory experience in municipal operations, human resources, community development, and organizational development that demonstrates proficiency in managing a complex municipal corporation. Residency within the city limits is required. The city offers a comprehensive benefits package including participation in the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS).”

Salary range is between $91,700 and $126,000 depending on experience and qualifications.

The board decided to set up a two-day interview process to enable the aldermen to talk to each candidate. The city will pay for overnight lodging, mileage, and food for out-of-town applicants.

Howell said he had conducted a background check on the three, as well as internet and Google searches.

Prior to the first interview, a benefit package will be determined, and each board member will have a copy.

Bryant said the board should also determine if the new city administrator would drive his or her own vehicle and be reimbursed or if the city would supply one. “We need to decide if we will buy a new vehicle,” Bryant said. “Most of the time Scott drove his own vehicle.”

The vice mayor said Public Works Director Eddie Plunkett junked one of the old vans and the city school system is using the other one. “Right now, we’re short a van. We need to think about that and whether to offer a stipend or buy a vehicle.”

Alderman Donna Hartman asked if the position would be contractual.

Bryant said in the past, a new hire was brought in for six months before being offered a contract. “We’re not tied to a contract up front.”

Establishing a contract between the BOMA and city administrator went into effect in 1986 when the city charter was updated. The City of Fayetteville operates under a private act charter.

Bryant and Alderman Jeff Alder concurred temporary housing during the first six months of employment was not paid for by the city, but relocation expenses would be reimbursed.