MERIDEN — As a consulting firm begins the search process for the next city manager, Acting City Manager Ken Morgan says he is undecided on whether to apply for the permanent position.
Tonight, the City Council is expected to extend Morgan’s term as acting manager for an additional 90 days, with a $3,300 a month increase to his salary as fire chief.
City Council Democrats, who hold a majority, voted to fire City Manager Guy Scaife in December, citing “discord” at City Hall, including clashes between Scaife and some department heads.
“Things have settled down in City Hall,” Morgan said. “Everybody was so on edge with the things that were going on and the unknowns that it became counterproductive. That has gone away..”
The City Charter says the council can appoint an acting city manager for up to 90 days. Mayor Kevin Scarpati said there is nothing preventing the council from reappointing the same person for a consecutive term, noting Morgan has done a “commendable job.”
“He took over in a pretty controversial time and I think he’s done his best to try and calm the waters a bit,” Scarpati said.
Council Majority Leader David Lowell favors reappointing Morgan, especially since the city is in the midst of formulating its budget for the next fiscal year.
In the last few months, Morgan said people have suggested he apply for the job full time.
“I get lobbied quite a bit actually. I was kind of shocked,” he said.
But Morgan is undecided. While he has enjoyed working with various city departments, Morgan is leaning toward remaining fire chief.
“My heart is with the fire department and that’s a big factor in it,” Morgan said.
Some have suggested City Council Democrat Brian Daniels might be interested in the job. Daniels stepped down as council majority leader in December and has announced he does not plan to run for re-election in 2019.
“Never is something you can’t say, but I can definitely tell you currently I have no interest in the position,” Daniels said Friday.
Corporation Council Michael Quinn said any elected official interested in the position would have to recuse themselves from the search process.
A representative from the consulting firm hired to assist with the search, HR Gov, will be meeting with councilors and department heads next week to assess what qualities the next city manager should possess. Lowell said a typical search takes about three months and a viable candidate should be identified over the summer.
Should Morgan apply, Lowell said he would be vetted by the firm like any other applicant.
“If he is a candidate he will go through the process and be considered within the process that’s being laid out that is fair and consistent to all applicants,” Lowell said. “With a population of 60,0000 give or take, we owe it to the people we represent to seek the best possible candidate to do the work of the city in the position as the position is defined… Whether Ken is interested or not I think it’s well worth the search and the process that we’re going through.”