Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 31, 2013

Traverse City utility to look internally for opening

Board prepares for search to replace Rice as director


TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Light & Power's interim executive director will get first crack at taking over the job full-time.

The Light & Power board spent an hour this week debating qualities it wants in a new executive director as the board prepares for a national search to replace Ed Rice, whom the board fired in October.

But some members, led by city Commissioner Jim Carruthers, spoke against hiring a national head-hunting firm that could cost the utility up to $45,000. Carruthers suggests relying on city staff, with assistance from a local human resources firm. No votes were taken, but the board indicated a desire to look locally first.

"We far too often look outside and assume we don't have quality internally or in the community," said John Taylor, board member. "I think we want to give people locally a chance; that would be the right thing to do for the brand of Traverse City."

The board instructed its search committee to first meet with Tim Arends, the interim executive director, along with any other internal candidates to determine if the job could be filled.

Questions were raised if Arends, the utility's financial controller, had the technical background for the job.

The board listed among its required qualities strong communication and good management skills, while technical expertise was considered secondary.

The board won't take any action until after it receives a draft report from a firm studying its management structure. Taylor said the committee doesn't want to advertise the position and discover the utility lacks a specific area of expertise it needs to move ahead.

The board expects the report in four to six weeks.