The city of Tustin will be searching for a new city manager, and it chose Los Angeles-based Teri Black and Co. — the most expensive executive search firm that responded to a request for proposal — as the firm for the job.

The City Council approved the selection this week after a subcommittee made up of Councilman Doug Davert and Mayor Jerry Amante interviewed four firms that wanted the contract. Davert said that the interviews “weren’t even close.”

“I’ve had personal experience with a couple of the others,” Davert said. “One of them I wouldn’t recommend for anything ever.”

Councilwoman Deborah Gavello said she wanted staff to negotiate a better price with the firm. The current proposal is $19,000 with allowable expenses of up to $9,000. The second most expensive firm out of the four was proposing a $17,500 fee with allowable expenses of up to $6,500.

Only Teri Black and Co. offered a two-year guarantee on its services in the agreement, which is double the one-year guarantee the other firms were offering. If the city manager position is vacated for any reason within two years, the firm will search for a replacement.

Gavello said she wanted to see Teri Black and Co. drop its fee to $17,500.

Teri Black has “done other placements for us so maybe we get a little volume discount,” Gavello said.

The current city manager, William Huston, has been at the city’s helm for 28 years and has seen Tustin’s population double during his tenure.

Huston’s retirement will be effective July 17, but the city isn’t expecting a new appointment until the end of September. How the city will deal with the interim period is still being hammered out, according to communications manager Lisa Woolery.


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