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25+ applicants want to be Cincinnati’s next city manager

City Hall as seen from Plum St. in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Jason Whitman
City Hall as seen from Plum St. in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Finalists for the next Cincinnati city manager will go through at least 10 interviews during the hiring process. The search firm PoliHire has already gotten more than 25 applications since posting the job at the beginning of May.

Mayor Aftab Pureval will choose a few finalists, who will each meet with every council member one-on-one. PoliHire CEO Kenyatta Uzzell told council Thursday that’s not typical.

“[In] all the years, I've not seen a mayor say ‘I want all of my panelists to meet individually — typically it’s collectively — with a council member,’ ” Uzzell said. “You'll be able to then share your observations, notes with the mayor, what your thoughts are on those individuals, before a selection is made.”

Some council members said last month the mayor’s office was not communicating effectively about the search process.

The public will be able to give feedback through an online survey. Uzzell says they’re working on ways to make the survey accessible for people without internet.

The survey will gauge public interest on top priorities for the job. The public won’t know who any of the candidates are until a final choice is made.

Uzzell says his team will also meet with community stakeholders.

“So if there are specific organizations, communities, what have you, that there are representatives that we can we can meet with or have conversations with, we are open to that,” he said. “We want to be as transparent and as inclusive as possible.”

PoliHire’s team will narrow down the applicants and present Pureval with a smaller list by July 1; Pureval will select finalists from there. Interviews with the mayor and council are expected to take place in July.

Pureval’s final choice will go to council for a vote. The new city manager is expected to be on the job by the end of summer.

John Curp is currently serving as interim city manager; he took over from Paula Boggs Muething after she resigned in January, shortly after Pureval took office with the intention of conducting a nationwide search for a city manager. Boggs Muething is now at FC Cincinnati as Vice president of legal affairs.

Curp is expected to apply for the permanent position. His current salary is about $265,000 a year, about the same as Boggs Muething’s salary at the time of her resignation. Curp’s contract includes a provision that when a new city manager is chosen (assuming it’s not Curp himself), they will offer Curp a senior management level position with the city that pays at least 75% of his salary as interim city manager.

If the new city manager offers a management position that Curp doesn’t accept, he’ll get six months salary as severance. If the new city manager doesn’t offer Curp a job, or if Curp is terminated from that new job (other than for cause), the city will pay him a lump sum of the remaining salary through July 30, 2024. City Solicitor Andrew Garth estimates that payment would be about $400,000, depending on when Curp left city employment.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.