By Judy Reed
The City of Cedar Springs made a decision Wednesday evening to offer the City Manager job to Thad Taylor, former City Manager of Alpena. They chose Jonathan Greene, Executive DDA Director in Jackson, Michigan, as an alternate.
Christine Burns, who formerly held the City Manager job for five years, is now the Village Manager of Spring Lake.
The City held candidate interviews last Saturday with their top seven candidates, and narrowed that field down to three—Taylor, Greene, and Patrick Reagan, DDA Director in Portland. The final interviews were held Wednesday evening, August 8, with at least two-dozen community and city staff members attending. After the interviews, the Council asked each person in the audience who they would choose, then discussed their own top choices.
Taylor was City Manager of Alpena, from December 2007-April 2012, and interim City Manager at Alpena 2006-2007. He was Public Safety Director there from 1992-2007. Before that, he was Police Chief and Public Safety Director in DeWitt Charter Township from 1988-92, and worked in Greenville for 26 years, including Public safety from 1977-1984. He still has family there.
Taylor was fired from his job in Alpena last April, on a 3-1 vote by the City Council, according to the Alpena News. Recall petitions for the mayor and two council members that fired him will be on the November ballot. No explanation was given from the Alpena City Council for his firing, other than that the city wanted to “move in a new direction.”
All the Cedar Springs City Council members had Taylor as one of their top two candidates, and then agreed unanimously to make him their top choice. While many of the council members appreciated Greene’s enthusiasm and expertise with businesses, they liked Taylor’s experience as a City Manager. “I don’t have to take him by the hand and show him how to run the city,” said Mayor Charlie Watson. “He’s ready to do that.”
“Business is important, but our primary responsibility is to make sure police get there, buildings don’t burn down, and the water stays turned on,” said Councilor Pam Conley.
“His experience impressed me,” said Councilor Pat Capek. “He comes as a well-rounded applicant.”
Mayor pro-tem Christine Fahl said that Taylor went above and beyond the other candidates, from the phone calls to find out about the city, to walking up and down Main Street introducing himself to the business owners. She also liked that he offered to save the City money by opting out of health insurance, not taking a car, and proposing severance on a graded scale, instead of a flat scale. “He also can start within two weeks,” she added.
Contract negotiations will begin immediately, and the City Council will formally vote on his appointment tonight (Thursday, August 9) at the regular City Council meeting.
Frank Walsh, the longtime City Manager in St. Joseph, and former City Manager in Cedar Springs for five years in the 1990s, conducted the Cedar Springs City Manager search for the city at no charge, saving the city about $10,000.