Interim city manager for Escanaba?

ESCANABA — The Escanaba City Council will be considering whether or not to appoint an interim city manager in the event a new administrator is not hired prior to the retirement of current City Manager Jim O’Toole.

During council’s regular meeting Thursday, O’Toole suggested appointing City Attorney Ralph “B.K.” Peterson as an interim city manager because council may be “hard pressed” to employ someone before he retires on June 30.

Council briefly discussed O’Toole’s suggestion, deciding the issue will be considered at a future meeting of council.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Peterson told the Daily Press he had discussed the matter with O’Toole and he would be willing to serve as interim city manager until someone is hired.

Council was in the process of hiring former Negaunee City Manager Jeff Thornton until a background check prompted the city’s negotiating team — made up of Peterson, Mayor Marc Tall and Mayor Pro Tem Ron Beauchamp — to recommend to council that he no longer be considered for the job.

Council agreed to repost the position after Thornton withdrew himself from further consideration in an email sent to O’Toole and Tall on May 5 — the day before council was going to address the negotiating team’s recommendation.

The following week, O’Toole informed city staff and council members that he will not be extending his retirement beyond June 30, noting he has started the process of transitioning into retirement with his family.

O’Toole had already extended his retirement date from the end of March to three more months. He has worked for the city for 29 years, including the past decade he has served as city manager.

During an update at Thursday’s meeting, O’Toole informed council that 25 applications have been submitted for the city manager position including 20 individuals who applied the first time the job was posted earlier this year. The application deadline is May 26.

Council set a special meeting for 3 p.m. on May 31 to narrow down the list of city manager candidates to schedule interviews.

Council also has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday next week to approve city ordinances following Thursday’s approval of the 2017-18 fiscal year budget.