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Albany eyes city manager

ALBANY -- The top contenders for city manager could be named as soon as this morning as commissioners appear set to again discuss candidates for the position during a special called, closed-door session today.

The commission has contracted with corporate headhunter Baenziger & Associates to recruit candidates nationally for the position formerly held by Alfred Lott. Lott resigned March 2 to take a federal job in Washington, D.C.

Since that time, the commission has appointed assistant city manager and applicant James Taylor to run the fifth floor of the government center until a permanent replacement is hired.

According to the city's hiring timeline, the commission is poised to cut the list of viable candidates that Baenziger has provided -- which include both Taylor and Assistant City Manager Wes Smith -- today and will possibly cull the list down to at least the top three finalists.

Once decided, Georgia law requires that the commission either release the names and resumes of as many as three of the finalists or allow them to withdraw from consideration. At its retreat, the commission discussed bringing those final candidates to town for face-to-face interviews and possibly a meeting in a social setting with the public before making its final selection.

There has been speculation and discussion from at least one commissioner privately that there may be an effort to abandon the remainder of the search and name a sole finalist when the board comes out of its closed-door session this morning.

The concern is that the city's contract with Baenziger for roughly $20,000 doesn't cover the cost of the all-expenses-paid trip the commission will need to pay to bring the final candidates to Albany, which, depending on where the candidates are from, could cost several thousand dollars. Some commissions have said the process should continue so that the $20,000 the commission has spent on Baenziger's search wouldn't have been spent in vain.