WILLIAMS, Ariz. - After a lengthy search process, Williams city council members selected Skylor Miller as the new city manager.
Council members unanimously approved hiring Miller May 12 after working through an outlined hiring process. Miller will begin July 11.
The city received 25 applications for the position and staff members spent time reading through the applications before narrowing the field to five applicants.
"We had a lot of good applicants," said Councilman Bernie Hiemenz. "It was tough to narrow it down."
Miller was hired three months after former city manager Brandon Buchanan vacated the position for a city manager position in Woodinville, Washington. Buchanan was hired after a 19-month absence of a permanent city manager.
According to Hiemenz, Miller is the current city manager of Quartzsite, Arizona. Originally from Ohio, he and his family have lived in Quartzsite for two years and have two children.
"Skylor had an edge because he's been in Arizona for two and half years and knows the state laws," Hiemenz said. "He and his wife are very active in the community (Quartzsite) and I think they're going to be a good fit here."
The city manager supervises the administration, business and employment affairs of the city and coordinates operations of the various departments. The manager also represents the city in community and regional matters. The position pays between $90,000-$110,000 per year and includes benefits.
The city of Williams uses a Council-Manager form of government. The city is governed by a directly elected mayor and six city council members. The council sets policy and directly appoints several staff positions such as the city manager, police chief, finance director and city clerk.
The city employs approximately 65 full-time employees and 15 seasonal employees. The total annual city budget is approximately $21,000,000 with about $7,000,000 of that amount in the General Fund.
The council reviewed the applications between March 28 and April 1. On April 1 they met to narrow down semifinalists and arrange Skype interviews.
In April the council met in executive session to select the five finalists to bring in for in-person interviews and conduct background and reference checks.
Spotlight on the fire department
The Williams city council continue budget talks with other city departments. Williams Fire Department Chief Chase Pearson presented the department's budget situation to council members May 19.
Pearson said the majority of their budget is for education and services. He said the department is having difficulties retaining firefighters. He said the department is not comfortable spending money on them before they had served for 18 months.
He said training is needed to address changes in vehicle manufacturing, home construction, EMS liabilities and people's expectations of fire fighters.
Pearson said the department has responded to 30 calls so far this year. He said most of the calls were during the day with an average response time of 13 minutes. He said the department is facing changes with higher hazard construction, three-story hotels, lumber mills, a new truck stop and aging equipment.
The department plans to work with local employers to assist in allowing volunteers to leave work to assist with calls. Pearson said the department covers calls half-way to Ash Fork and half-way to Parks. He said their response time to calls has increased from six minutes to thirteen minutes.
Williams Mayor John Moore said volunteers with the Williams Flag project have approximately 120 American flags and poles available to distribute for free. They have 10 specific days when they would like residents to fly their flags.
The new striping of parking spaces along E. Route 66 was completed May 12.
Fire Chief Chase Pearson reported that the Williams Fire Department just completed an active shooter training with the Williams Police department and several other agencies. They also completed fire hydrant testing.
Tourism marketing agreement
Mayor John Moore addressed the council regarding the possible option of contracting with Front Burner Media for the city's tourism marketing. Moore pointed out the agreement with the Chamber of Commerce is outdated. The council looked at two proposals, one from the Chamber of Commerce and one from Front Burner Media. It was noted the Chamber of Commerce is for commerce not tourism. The council discussed the purpose and duties of the Chamber of Commerce.
The council planned to discuss the topic at the May 26 council meeting, but the discussion was tabled for two weeks because of a conflict of interest with the city's attorney.
Other council decisions
The council also voted to contribute $1,500, as it has done in years past, to the Parents Who Care group for their Grad Night celebration party. The motion passed unanimously.
Williams resident Kerry Lynn Moede was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Council approved a resolution to accept a loan agreement with the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona to fund the next phase of the Sweetwater Well project.