Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has now selected a firm to lead the search for the next city manager. He said during his weekly press briefing Thursday he met with about seven companies before hiring California-based Ralph Anderson and Associates.
He said a representative of the search firm will be in town next week to meet with city council members.
“And help build out a profile for the search,” Cranley said. “He intends to be out there pounding the pavement looking for candidates at the end of next week or the week after.”
Cranley also said interim city manager Scott Stiles has decided to apply for the job. The goal is to have a selection made by July 1st.
Meanwhile, all the parties involved in the collaborative effort to resolve problems with the city's under-funded pension system had their first meeting Monday. Federal Judge Michael Barrett, who is overseeing the process, arranged the luncheon meeting.
Cranley said negotiations between all the parties started the same day.
“I think there are going to be some tough days ahead, but I feel confident that we’re going to get a solution,” Cranley said. “I still think realistically it could take six months, but everyone’s goal is to move fast than that.”
Items on the table for negotiation include changes to retiree health care and annual cost of living adjustments. In return Cincinnati officials would commit to a set amount of city funding for the pension system for a period of time.
Two of the major bond rating agencies were in the city last week as they begin work to essentially set the city's credit score. Cranley said there will likely be a rating downgrade, but the goal is to minimize it. Right now the city has an AA bond rating.
“And I am cautiously optimistic that because of the great work of city council and the administration on the pension plan, that we will be able to maintain our bond rating in the ‘A’ range,” Cranley said.
A lower bond rating means it will cost Cincinnati more to borrow money.
The agencies have said they want to see the city make progress on solving the pension crisis and developing a structurally balanced budget. The interim city manager said Wednesday the agencies could have some preliminary information in a few weeks.
Cranley has also been invited to attend a forum next week in New York City that will focus on police/race relations. Ron Davis with the U.S. Department of Justice invited the mayor to participate, and the DOJ is paying for his trip. Davis heads the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and Cranley said Davis is very familiar with the city's 2002 racial collaborative agreement.
“We’ve made more progress on race/police relations that practically any city in the country,” Cranley said. “And he believes that our collaborative model is a role model for other cities dealing with similar situations.”
The collaborative settled a number of federal lawsuits filed against the city's police department alleging racial profiling.
Cranley said while he is in New York he hopes to learn more about that city's efforts in the past to reduce the number of homicides in the city.