Lynchburg will cast a wide net to find the next city manager.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Lynchburg City Council endorsed plans to conduct a nation-wide search to replace retiring City Manager Bonnie Svrcek. Council also voted to hire a recruitment firm to help with the search.
Svrcek, the first woman to serve as city manager in the Hill City, announced last week she will step down from the position at the end of June, ending her four-year tenure helming city government.
Svrcek became city manager in 2016 following the retirement of previous city manager Kimball Payne. Before that, she served as deputy city manager, a job for which she was hired in 1999.
In a rough timeline discussed among council members Tuesday, city council would conduct the first stage of interviews in early spring and announce the next city manager by mid-May. The timeline is based on the city manager recruitment process conducted in 2016.
Voicing support for the proposal, Ward IV Councilman Turner Perrow said a broad search — instead of only considering current city employees — would allow council to consider a wide range of experienced candidates.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get in a national search and I think we should be open to that opportunity for the very best possible manager we can find for the city,” Perrow said.
Ward III Councilman Jeff Helgeson proposed broadening the search beyond candidates who have experience in government. He suggested candidates with experience in business should also be considered.
“We’re looking for a leader, we’re looking for a visionary, we’re looking for a chief executive that can execute council’s policies,” he said.
Under Lynchburg’s charter, the city manager is the top-ranking administrator in the Hill City. Like other Virginia cities with council-manager systems, Lynchburg’s city manager is tasked with running the day-to-day business of government and submitting policy recommendations to city council.
With an annual salary of more than $202,000, the city manager is the highest paid public official in Lynchburg, according to James Lowe, the city’s director of human resources.
Richard Chumney covers Liberty University for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.