Story and photo by JENNA BAILEY
On Tuesday, May 1, at 4:30 p.m. the DeFuniak Springs City Council met at DeFuniak Springs (DFS) City Hall for a special meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss appointing an interim city manager and the advertising and hiring process for the new city manager position.
DFS Mayor Bob Campbell began the meeting with a statement directed at the council members. Campbell stated for the record that he did not know about the May 1 special meeting until he received a public notice and that he would appreciate being notified in the future before the public did. “I’d appreciate it in the future if you [the council] would include me. Even though it is not a mandatory thing, but just a courtesy thing,” said Campbell.
It was DFS Public Works Director Craig Drake who requested the meeting. The reason, according to Drake, being that staff needed some direction on which way to go. Directly after Drake’s statement the meeting was paused by the common complaint that the citizens in attendance could not hear. Attempts were made to improve the volume of the microphones. City policy states that the city manager or three council members can call for a meeting. Drake stated that the mayor was not intentionally left out of notice.
Mayor Campbell asked the council is there was an automatic process in place for instances in which something were to happen to the city manager where he was then informed that it was up to the council to decide who they wanted to appoint as interim city manager.
Attorney Clay Adkinson provided an explanation as to why the direction of the city council is needed in this particular instance. Adkinson explained that the director of public works [Craig Drake] is under the title of assistant city manager, as well. If the city manager is unavailable during his tenure the assistant city manager at various times can step in on that limited basis.
Since the city does not have a city manager at this time, it is not as clear that that would be an automatic transition for Drake to take on the city manager’s duties — such as signing checks or performing other functions as the city manager. In the case of an event where there is no city manager, the approval of the city council is needed to appoint an interim city manager. The motion passed to appoint Craig Drake as the interim city manager until a new city manager is hired.
The meeting then moved on to discussing the hiring process for the new city manager. It was decided by the council to advertise the city manager position for one month. A committee made up of six members of the community and one member of city staff will review the applications and conduct interviews. Each member of the council will recommend one member of the community for said committee. Once the committee has decided on which applicants to recommend to the council, the council will conduct interviews of said applicants in a public meeting. Though the committee may make recommendations, it is up to the council as to which applicant they will choose. Further discussion of the city manager hiring process will take place at the next DFS City Council meeting on May 14, 2018.