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Morgantown Council taps Ohio-based firm to recruit new city manager

MORGANTOWN — After spending an hour Tuesday evening with each of the three firms vying to assist Morgantown with the recruitment of its next city manager, Morgantown City Council settled on Ohio-based Novak Consulting Group.

Novak Consulting proposed a price of $24,300 and a 12-week window for the search — representing both the lowest cost and shortest timeline on offer.

City Attorney Ryan Simonton will conduct reference checks and begin working on a contract with the firm, which will then begin identifying candidates to replace Paul Brake, who ends his tenure with the city this week after just under three and a half years as the city’s top administrator.

Of the three firms interviewed, the city has previous and current working relationships with the top two preferences identified by council — Novak Consulting and GovHR.

Novak Consulting has conducted previous strategic planning sessions with council. Council voted in April to spend $12,500 to bring the firm’s executive vice president, Julie Novak, back in June for that purpose.

The city hired GovHR for $22,000 in October 2016 to conduct the search that resulted in Brake’s hiring. GovHR is also the firm that handled recruitment for Royal Oak, Mich., Brake’s destination — though it was pointed out that he sought out that position and wasn’t recruited.

GovHR, based in Illinois, provided the city a proposal of $24,500 and a timeline of 12 weeks.
The third firm, Texas-based Strategic Government Resources Group, offered a proposal of 15 weeks at a cost of $26,500.

While all three proposals were pretty similar and it was universally agreed that all three firms are reputable and have proven track records, Novak Consulting’s stated focus on providing a diverse candidate pool caught the attention of a number of council members.

It was also noted that Novak Consulting offered the longest guarantee at two years. If the selected candidate doesn’t work out or leaves inside two years, the firm will conduct a new search.

GovHR offered a one-year guarantee and SGR guaranteed the hire for 18 months.

Lastly, along with being the closest of the three firms, Novak Consulting will not recruit an individual it places with a client while GovHR will, but only after five years.

Council voted 6-1 in favor of Novak Consulting. Mayor Bill Kawecki favored GovHR.

Communications Manager Andrew Stacy noted the timelines included in the proposals are subject to change.