Ypsilanti City Council considering 5 candidates for city manager
The Ypsilanti City Council is considering five candidates out of a field of 34 who applied for the vacant city manager position.
City Clerk Frances McMullan, who is among the finalists, is serving as interim city manager.
In January, former City Manger Ed Koryzno left Ypsilanti after 16 years for a position with the state treasury department. City Council selected John Hansen to serve as interim city manager, but he quit after a week, following allegations that he harassed a city employee.
Council then selected McMullan to serve as the interim manager.
The 34 candidates were selected by advertising with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and with assistance from one of their employees. Council required that the candidate have a master’s degree; five years experience as a city manager; and experience in city budget preparation, budget administration and finance.
Council also listed three desired qualifications, which included experience with labor and contract negotiations; experience with downtown and general economic development and experience working in a diverse community.
Joyce Parker, a facilitator with the MML and Ecorse's emergency financial manager, developed a matrix that showed which qualifications were met by each candidate. Eight met all council’s qualifications and two of those eight made the list of finalists.
Parker didn't return calls from AnnArbor.com.
Jered Ottenwess, a former City of Ypsilanti intern who served as the Trenton, Fla. city manager and is currently the Ishpeming, Mich. city manager, also met all the the qualifications.
Brian Vick, Grosse Pointe Shores city manger, and former Scio Township manager Darrell Fecho are also finalists.
Ottenwess earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan in 2004.
Among the professional accomplishments he listed on his resume are administering $2.4 million in bonds to improve road, water, sewer and streetscape features. That project was completed with the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority. He also listed extensive experience obtaining grant funding for a variety of projects.
Ottenwess said he successfully negotiated with all four city unions and maintained a fund balance of 15 percent of expenditures despite decreasing revenues and increasing personnel costs.
In Trenton he managed a $2.8 million dollar budget and helped implement a property tax that he said pulled the city out of “statutorily defined emergency status” within three years without decreasing service levels.
Lange, the other candidate to meet all of council’s desired and required qualifications, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Purdue University. He served as Albion's city manager and city administrator/director of public safety for Oregoen, Ohio, for a total of 10 years. After that he served as managing director of the Monroe County Road Commission 10 years before joining the Henry County Improvement Corporation in 2008.
Lange said he helped improve the relationship between Albion University and the City of Albion, and also served as chairman of its housing authority. He oversaw 300 employees and a budget of up to $35 million in Oregon and highlighted his economic development efforts in the city, which he said helped secure nearly $500 million in investment from local oil refineries and a power plant.
Lange also oversaw a staff of 120 and a budget of up to $30 million at the MCRC, and he said the MCRC never lost an arbitration case while he was there. As director of Henry County Improvement Corporation, Lange said he was involved in numerous projects with a wide range of businessed to help secure investment and create new jobs in the county.
McMullan earned a master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix in 2006 and has served as the city’s interim city manager since February. Prior to that she worked as the Ypsilanti City Clerk for almost five years. Before working in Ypsilanti, McMullan was a parking referee for the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor, council administrative coordinator in the Ann Arbor clerk’s office and appeals board coordinator in Ann Arbor’s building department.
According to the City Council’s qualification matrix developed by Parker, McMullan has 21 years experience in local government, though none as a city manager. She lacks significant experience in finance but does have experience in budget development, according to the matrix. It also says she doesn’t have experience in economic and downtown development.
McMullan highlighted her experience in managing Ypsilanti’s day-to-day operations since February and elections management. McMullan said she has experience managing the department budget and in labor negotiations. She also said she helped improved the relationship between the clerk’s office and community as well as managed the city’s relationship with the community and university.
Among her references are Council Member Ricky Jefferson.
Brian Vick earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan at Dearborn and served as Gross Pointe Shores city manager since 2008. Prior to that he spent two years as DeWitt’s city manager and worked as Grosse Pointe’s assistant city manager from 2001 to 2006. He was also an assistant to the city manager in Grosse Pointe between 1995 and 2001.
According to qualification matrix, Vick meets only lacks experience working in a diverse community.
In his resume, Vick said Grosse Pointe Shores has experienced a 30 percent decline in residential taxable value and had a fund balance of 1 percent of its budget when he started at his post. He said it now has a fund balance of 12-percent of its $8 million budget. The city began contracting for emergency dispatch services with a neighboring city and secured a cooperative contract for court administration with another city during his tenure, Vick said.
He also said employees there have seen a 23-percent decrease in reported W-2 compensation since 2008 despite a 3-percent pay increase for the unions. He highlighted the roles he played as DeWitt’s chief financial officer, development official and city liaison to multiple groups among other responsibilities.
Darrell Fecho earned his master’s in communications from Michigan State University in 1974 and has 25 years experience in the public sector in a variety of positions.
Fecho lacks experience working in a diverse community, but meets all other requirements in the qualification matrix.
Most recently, he was township manager in Scio Township from 2005 to 2010. He was also Brighton Township’s manager from 1992 to 2001.
In his resume, Fecho said he re-established the manager’s position in Scio Township after it was eliminated for eight years. He highlighted his experience with preparation and administration of Scio Township’s budget, experience managing their service departments, experience with its legal department and economic development experience.
Council Member Mike Bodary said he is pleased with the field of candidates. He said council members have yet to discuss the interviews and the decision may wait until after the May 8 election on the proposed income tax and Water Street debt retirement millage.
But he said council will likely discuss the candidates at their May 1 meeting and he is hopeful it can select someone soon.
"Not having a city manger has been a strain on the whole administration, so a measured decision without taking too much time is a a good idea," Bodary said.