Surfside advertising for new town manager

Surfside town manager Michael Crotty and Vice-Mayor Eli Tourgeman before a town meeting on Sept. 23 at the commission chambers. MATIAS OCNER/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

For Miami Herald.

Surfside commissioners — advertising for a new town manager — will move ahead with a local search firm despite “grave concerns” raised by the vice mayor during a meeting on Monday.

The commission hired Colin Baenziger & Associates to find candidates after Michael Crotty, who became town manager in March 2013, resigned in June.

Surfside commissioners discussed the search Monday at a special meeting requested by Vice Mayor Eli Tourgeman. He called the meeting after reading about Coral Gables commissioners’ complaints about the search firm.

The firm was hired by Coral Gables to find a city manager. The city picked James Beard, 50, of Atlanta, but then pushed him aside after a city-run records check raised concerns among city leaders. Beard was one of five finalists picked by the search firm, which was later criticized by some in Coral Gables for its background checks.

Beard has said the city knew about his background. He has said that he withdrew his own name because he and the city were unable to agree on a compensation package.

The city replaced Baenziger, hiring Bud Park, a local search firm executive.

“I have great concerns,” Tourgeman said during the meeting on Monday. “I am not comfortable with the company that we hired to seek a new town manager.”

Touregeman said the town has a “history of turnstyle management,” and even though it is in “dire need of a new manager,” he does not want to rush the process.

“I think it’s time for us to hire somebody that will really and truly take us to the next level,” he said.

After discussing the concerns and several other options, commissioners decided to keep the Baenziger firm on the job.

“I think it’s responsible to have this meeting,” resident Norma Parron said during the meeting. “The firm will be held to a higher standard going forward.”

The town had tried to find a replacement in house, but was unsuccessful and hired the firm for $23,000. The firm started advertising on Tuesday, getting the go ahead to do so on Monday, after the meeting.

The closing date is Oct. 17. The interviews are scheduled for Nov.20.

“We won’t really know anything until about Oct. 18, after the closing date,” Colin Baenziger said. “You really don’t know what you have until the very end.”

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