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City Utilities General Manager John Twitty says he is stepping down in June from the executive position he's held since 2002. Twitty says he has no plans to seek another job, but might do some traveling.
City Utilities General Manager John Twitty says he is stepping down in June from the executive position he's held since 2002. Twitty says he has no plans to seek another job, but might do some traveling.

CU sets course for new leader

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The composition of the search committee charged with replacing City Utilities general manager John Twitty, who announced his retirement on Dec. 2, became news itself after a Board of Public Utilities member took exception to its number of members.

Board member Dan Scott of Jericho Development Co. said all 11 board members should have been included instead of the six-member committee that was announced. On Dec. 7, Scott sent a disparaging letter to members of the board’s executive committee, which he said handpicked search committee members without consent of the full board.

At the Dec. 15 meeting, however, a motion by assistant secretary Tom Finnie to bring findings related to the process before the full board seemed to put Scott at ease.

“I’d love to have all of the board meetings be like this,” Scott said after removing his motion to strongly recommend the executive committee change the composition of the search team.

The board’s executive committee comprises Chairman Patrick Platter of Neale & Newman; Tom Rankin of Sperry Van Ness/Rankin Co. LLC; Mike Peters of St. John’s Health System, and Finnie, a retired Springfield city manager. Those individuals appointed themselves and former board chairpersons Lisa Officer of Officer CPA Firm LLC and Mark McNay of SMC Packing Group to join the search committee.

Before the city-owned utility can name its next top executive, its board members must decide upon the process by which a replacement is sought. One idea: Hire a consultant to find Twitty’s successor.

Twitty, who plans to leave the post he has held since 2002 in June, told board members at the special meeting last week that a consultant could cost between 30 percent and 40 percent of the general manager’s first-year annual salary.

Board member Krystal Compas, vice president for alumni and development at Drury University, said a consultant could cost as much as $80,000 to $100,000.

“It could be good to have another set of eyes and ears on this,” Twitty said, suggesting a consultant hired on a limited basis would offer direction with candidate selection but at a reduced cost.

Finnie said any use of outside help should be limited and the board should be mindful of unnecessary expenses. He said it was important to find the best candidates possible without outsourcing the steps they could take in-house to narrow the field.

“Dragging the process out is not a good idea,” Finnie said.

Board member Brian Hamburg, an attorney with Hamburg & Lyons LLC, said the board should more narrowly define the type of person it wants to hire.

“What are our goals? What do we not want to lose, and what do we want to gain? We need to know where we’re aiming before we get there,” Hamburg said.

Several board members suggested an examination of other company models for hiring top executives.

Platter said CU’s human resources department would be consulted in the search process and an examination of various consultants and their services would begin before the search committee’s next meeting in early January.

He said a list of qualifications and experience of a prototypical candidate would be formalized after seeking input from the community.

Platter said, ultimately, there may not be a large number of options from which to choose.

“I think you’ll find there are a limited number of qualified candidates available to run a utility of this size with our mission,” Platter said following the meeting.

Finnie said it was important to get the process right.

“We need to put some thought into this. Things can get sloppy in a hurry if we’re not careful,” Finnie said. “We need to do this in an organized way and make sure the entire board is comfortable with what we are doing.”

As for Scott, he said the board’s move to make this a more inclusive process was vital.

“This process needs to have as much sunshine on it as possible in order for it to have the full respect of the community.”[[In-content Ad]]

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