Three interim directors charged with helping the City of Moline implement its new strategic plan took the helm of three of the city’s key departments Monday.
The trio of experienced professionals is contracted to serve for the next six months, while the city works with executive search firms to find permanent replacements to lead the community and economic development, engineering and public works departments, according to a news release from the city.
The interim directors will either work on site or remotely as they temporarily fill positions that are vacant due to the revolving door of city hall leadership changes over the last several years.
Interim City Administrator Bob Vitas said it’s important to have interim directors in those critical departments as the city kickstarts a search process that has been complicated by a tight job market and a worldwide pandemic.
“Given the city’s recently adopted strategic plan and soon-to-be-approved operations budget, we have an aggressive schedule of projects and programs we need to launch and get up to speed,” Mr. Vitas said. “That requires more hands on deck.”
The new hands, who joined the city Monday, are:
- Michael Schenk, interim city engineer. Mr. Schenk recently retired as the Plant City, Florida, city engineer. He replaces City Engineer Scott Hinton, who resigned in January 2020 after serving 18 years with Moline.
- Charles Graves, interim community and economic development director. Mr. Graves worked in economic development in Cincinnati, Ohio; Washington D.C.; Atlanta, Georgia, and Baltimore, Maryland, before taking the new job in Moline. He fills the post vacated by the March 2020 resignation of Ray Forsythe, who led the department for 14 years before taking a job as city administrator of Washington, Ill. He now serves as special projects manager for Johnson County, Iowa.
- Brad Fink, interim public works director. Mr. Fink boasts 25 years of experience, including the last eight as public works director in Wauconda, Illinois. He replaces J.D. Schulte, who retired in April 2021 after 30 years with the city. In addition to directing public works, Mr. Schulte also filled in for other department heads, including as interim city administrator during city hall turnover.
Leah Miller, Moline’s human resources director, said internal recruiting efforts to fill those key vacancies were significantly hampered over the past 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic downturn.
In response to those challenges, Ms. Miller said the city is taking a two-pronged approach. “Using executive recruiters will give us the opportunity to look for high-level candidates from a wider geographic footprint and to cast a wider net. The other prong is utilizing interims until we get those positions filled.”
Mr. Vitas said each of the positions being recruited is critically important and needs high-level candidates, particularly the community and economic development director post.
“We need a director with a wide array of talents,” including business attraction and retention, TIF (tax increment financing) management, downtown redevelopment and community programs,” he added. “It is a mission-critical position and we can’t fill it just to fill it. That would be a disservice to the residents of Moline.”
The city will employ multiple search firms to create a robust, nationwide search, the release said. The goal is to fill all the positions by the end of the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2022.
The Moline City Council has budgeted $82,000 for the searches. The interim directors will be paid between $75 and $95 per hour in addition to housing and travel reimbursements from funds already earmarked for permanent director salaries.