Government's search for new administrator begins

The search for Fred Russell’s replacement got underway Wednesday in a brief meeting between Augusta commissioners and John Maxwell, a consultant with Atlanta-based headhunting firm The Mercer Group.

The commission hired Mercer last week to help them recruit a new administrator to replace Russell, the city’s administrator for almost 10 years whom the commission fired Dec. 9.

Maxwell said the average tenure of one of its successful placements is 11 years, higher than the industry average of three to four years.

Mercer, which is charging $15,000 plus up to $4,000 in expenses to handle the search, will conduct a new one for expenses only if the candidate resigns within 12 months, Maxwell said.

The firm did not assist in the hire of Russell but it has helped him and another city administrator seek employment elsewhere.

In November 2011, after Russell came under fire for awarding several large raises to staff without informing the commission, his name turned up as a finalist for similar positions in Sarasota County, Fla., and Tacoma, Wash., in searches conducted by Mercer.

Russell withdrew from the Tacoma search but interviewed in Sarasota County, which opted to hire Alachua County, Fla., manager Randall Reid instead.

Mercer also sent the resume of Randy Oliver, the consolidated government’s first administrator, to Hernando County, Fla., where Oliver was named a finalist in 1999.

Maxwell told the two commissioners who attended Wednesday’s meeting the next steps were for him to interview each commissioner about his or her preferences in an administrator, compile the results, present them to the commission for approval and then begin advertising for candidates on various Web sites and publications. He said the entire process would take 60 to 90 days.

The commission voted last month to make Deputy Administrator and Information Technology Director Tameka Allen interim administrator until the search is completed.

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