ROCKVILLE — An organization contracted by the city government is set to begin a national search “within days” to find candidates willing to apply to become the new city manager, according to the acting city manager.
Craig Simoneau said Monday night the search will begin “as soon” as a company in negotiations with the city finalizes its deal with the city. Simoneau did not release the name of the company at the time.
“The name of our selected vendor cannot be released until the contract has been signed,” said city spokesperson Marylou Berg Tuesday, later adding, “The Purchase Order for the city manager search is expected to be completed by the end of this week.”
Simoneau is one of three city employees with the title of “acting.”
That list also includes Acting Police Chief Bob Rappoport and Acting Public Works Director Judy Ding.
Rappoport said Monday he’ll be leading the city police force for at least a year with the title as “acting,” citing a decision made by Simoneau.
While the city manager has the authority to appoint permanent directors, the directors also “serve at the pleasure of the city manager,” according to Simoneau, so the next permanent city manager could replace the police chief if desired.
That would force Rappoport into retirement and he would then have to work as a contractor with the department, said the acting police chief.
However, by remaining in the acting position, Rappoport said he can have his old job back as a major if the next city manager appoints someone else.
Simoneau also said he wanted to consider two other factors in lieu of making a decision about the next police chief: the timeline of the search to fill the city manager’s position and the performance of Rappoport in office.
What Simoneau said he does want is the preliminary applications for the next permanent police chief to arrive by the time the next city manager is appointed by the mayor and council in order to create less work for that person.
If the mayor and council appoint Simoneau as the permanent city manager, that could have a domino effect for the Police and Public Works departments.
Simoneau served as the director of Public Works for 10 years before replacing former city manager Barbara Matthews, who was fired in late February.
If the mayor and council decide to replace Simoneau as city manager, that would bump him back to Public Works director and Ding would once again become deputy director.
Meanwhile in the Police Department, “Bob Rappoport’s old position is being held vacant,” said Simoneau.
“I could always go back,” said Rappoport.
Simoneau acknowledged having three acting directors can hinder a sense of certainty among city staffers and the mayor and council as they make decisions based on who will be serving in what role during the next two years.
For Simoneau personally, after years of working as a peer with other directors, he said he’s had to make decisions as city manager affecting various departments and their directors.
If he’s bumped back to Public Works director, he’ll then become peers again with those same directors after months or longer of him being their boss.
“So how long is that going to last?” said Simoneau.
Just last month, Kathleen Conway began working as the new city clerk and director of council operations after Sara Taylor-Ferrell served as the acting city clerk for two years and is now the deputy clerk.
That made Conway the sixth clerk in six years to lead the clerk’s office, one of three offices that reports to the mayor and council.
The other two offices are the city manager and the city attorney.