The City Council has reopened the search for a director to oversee garbage and debris pickup in Decatur, but one internal candidate for the position remains under consideration.
Decatur Community Development Manager Allen Stover is the only one of three finalists for Environmental Services director still in the running, and he said Wednesday he remains interested in the job. However, a majority of council members aren't ready to fill the position until they see what skills new candidates might offer.
“I don’t know if it makes sense to do this, but maybe we need to reopen the job and see if there’s a chance one more time to see if we can get someone with a solid waste background, and absolutely keep Allen as a candidate,” Council President Jacob Ladner said at Monday's council meeting.
The council is seeking to replace Rickey Terry, who retired as director of Street and Environmental Services on Sept. 30. The Street division was moved under the Engineering division with his retirement. Sanitation and garage operations stayed in Environmental Services. The advertised pay range for Environmental Services director is $70,854 to $107,813 annually.
The council narrowed the original applicant field for the job to three finalists, including two current employees and an outside candidate. After interviewing the three finalists last month, council members agreed the outside candidate, who is a civil engineer by trade, wasn’t a good fit. Environmental Services Manager Reginald “Kip” Carter then pulled his name from consideration just days after the interview.
Carter’s move left Stover as the only remaining finalist. Councilman Carlton McMasters said Monday that Stover and Carter are “really nice people” and choosing between the two would have been difficult so Carter dropping out “keeps us from hurting someone’s feelings.”
McMasters, who called the candidate pool “shallow,” had suggested reopening the search before the interviews but the council overruled him and went forward with the interviews.
Now most of the council and Mayor Tab Bowling want to follow McMasters’ suggestion.
Ladner said most of the applicants, many of them civil engineers, weren’t qualified for a post that focuses mainly on managing garbage routes and pickup. Stover has 22 years with the city in Community Development as a grant writer and administrator.
McMasters and Ladner said they “owe it to the citizens” to reopen the search after the position is posted to attract the candidate with the right background and fit.
“If everything goes the way it’s going, I hope it is Allen,” McMasters said. “But we owe it to the taxpayers of this city to interview more people.”
Bowling said Stover “did the things he needed to do” in the interview and he may eventually be the right choice. However, the mayor also agreed that the council “had a limited pool” from which to select a director.
“We can come back and put some language (in the job posting) that better defines the role that gives us a larger pool of candidates,” Bowling said.
Councilman Billy Jackson said Stover is the right choice because the position calls for a manager more than someone who handles the day-to-day operations, which are already overseen by a “capable” superintendent.
Stover was Jackson’s only choice to be interviewed when council members were asked to select from the applicants. Jackson said Stover “brought unique perspective” in his interview, like suggesting computer integration into the Sanitation operation so drivers running garbage rates could digitally designate, or ping, locations where loader trucks need to pick up debris later.
“We’re looking for a manager, and Allen has demonstrated that managerial experience and ability,” Jackson said. “I think he’s capable and he can build a good rapport down there. He has the background for what we’re looking for.”
Jackson said Stover also serves on a number of local nonprofit boards in leadership positions.
“People have a lot of confidence in him to put him on certain boards that mean so much to this community,” Jackson said.
Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin put her support behind conducting another search.
“I think it’s worth the due diligence to go out and do another search with the emphasis on the solid waste component,” Sandlin said.
Councilman Kyle Pike said he also supports another search, so Ladner said that gave the council a consensus to reopen the application process.
Councilman Hunter Pepper was absent.