The Joliet City Council appeared to leave the interim city manager situation hanging this week when it tabled a vote on what was expected to be a contract to bring back Jim Hock.
That is until Mayor Bob O’Dekirk provided an update that a council majority now wants to work out an agreement to keep interim City Manager Steve Jones on the job.
“I think the public needs to know what direction we’re heading,” O’Dekirk said at the Tuesday council meeting where the vote on a Hock contract was tabled.
Indeed, the unsettled question of who will be the future city manager of Joliet has been lingering since October, when David Hales left under unexplained circumstances.
The city council since June 18 has been arguing over who should be the interim city manager and hasn’t gotten to the point of starting a search for a permanent city manager.
Even now, the interim city manager issue is not settled, said Councilman Pat Mudron, who initiated the effort to consider Hock, who was Joliet’s city manager for more than three years, for the job.
Mudron said the council now is waiting to hear a proposal from Jones on what he needs to do the job until the city hires a permanent city manager.
Mudron said he expects Jones to make a reasonable proposal, but added it’s “not any sure thing. That’s why Hock’s not a sure out.”
Jones, normally the deputy city manager/economic development director, has the responsibility to step in when the city manager post is vacated. While saying he’s willing to do that, Jones also has expressed reluctance to stay interim city manager long term.
City Attorney Martin Shanahan did the job for eight months before Mudron and other council members voted June 18 to return him to his duties as city attorney.
O’Dekirk and a council minority wanted to promote Shanahan to permanent city manager without a candidate search.
Keeping Jones on the job should hasten the search process for a permanent city manager, Mudron said Wednesday.
“In my thinking it expedites the process because he wants out,” Mudron said.
Jones on Tuesday told the council that he already has contacted GovHR USA, the consultant firm used in the last two city manager searches, regarding a candidate search and verified that fees normally charged would be waived because the firm’s last search led to a hire – Hales – that did not last for two years.
The city likely would face expenses of $7,000 to $10,000 if it uses GovHR USA for another search, Jones said.