Mercer Group selected to recruit for new Dover city manager

DOVER — The Mercer Group has been selected to head the search for a new Dover city manager, Kim Hawkins, the city’s human resource manager, told members of Dover City Council during their virtual meeting on Monday night.

“I had a chance to reach out to representatives for three of the executive recruiting firms, one of them was Colin Baenziger and Associates, another was GovHRusa and the third one was The Mercer Group,” Ms. Hawkins said.

“After having a chance to see through references and look at what they are able to provide the city, as well as what their cost would be, I reached the conclusion and recommend to the council that we retain The Mercer Group to do our full recruitment for the next city manager.”

City Council members voted to support her recommendation of The Mercer Group to handle recruiting for the position.

Current Dover City Manager Donna Mitchell will be retiring from the city effective Oct. 30, finishing a career of more than 30 years within the city.

Donna Mitchell

Mercer’s proposal was $4,000 for Dover’s limited search or $16,700 with expenses capped at $4,000 for a full search.

The job posting is expected to be advertised beginning the week of Aug. 21 and it is estimated that finalist applications will be provided to Dover around Nov. 1. In-person interviews are anticipated around Nov. 30 until Dec. 4 with an offer to a candidate between Dec. 17-24 and Jan. 25, 2021, being the first day of employment for the new city manager.

City Councilman Fred Neil was somewhat concerned with the timeline of hiring Mrs. Mitchell’s replacement.

“I’m not concerned because I know we will be in the capable hands of Matt Harline until that time,” Mr. Neil said. “But is there any chance of moving that (hiring) date up?”

Council President William “Bill” Hare and councilman Tim Slavin were comfortable with a slow and steady hiring process.

“I just wanted to say that while I appreciate Councilman Neil’s concerns about the timeline, I’m not concerned at all about the timeline,” Mr. Slavin said. “I think the timeline is set aside and in its place for the thoroughness of the search that we’re about to do and for the full vetting of a candidate.”

Mr. Hare said, “I don’t think we want to rush this. I think we want to fully vet it and do it properly.”

David J. Deutsch, the senior vice president of The Mercer Group, said his company will be looking for a perfect match between the city and the candidates.

“My first step is to meet (and given the ongoing concerns due to Covid-19, these sessions can be via telephone) with elected officials, Mrs. Mitchell and other staff, to glean their perspectives on the desired traits and attributes desired in the next city manager,” Mr. Deutsch wrote in a letter to the city. “I will need your assistance in scheduling meetings and providing information such as the current position description, organization chart, budget, personnel manual and other relevant documents.

“You have seen one of our brochures, so you are aware of the type of information usually contained in the pamphlet, including data on the community, the city government, the candidate (what kind of candidate is the city looking for?), “about the position”, issues facing the city, and compensation.”