In an email to the Billings city council subcommittee, top city administrator candidate Greg Doyon declined the position.
Doyon currently serves as the city manager of Great Falls.
It's unclear if the city will re-engage negotiations with Doyon, but said the city council body will decide on the next step if it will move on to the next candidate or create a new search.
The search for a new city administrator that resulted in Doyon being offered the job cost the city $25,000.
During the early meeting on Friday, the subcommittee's liaison to Doyon said there was no response to the offer the council sent on Thursday.
That offer held the salary to $155,000, despite Doyon coming down from his original request by $5,000 to $165,000.
The subcommittee did not meet Doyon on any of the requests and it appears the move cost them.
In an several page email shortly after 8:15 a.m., Doyon said he would "respectfully decline the employment offer."
Several subcommittee members looked stunned, and the meeting concluded shortly after. Subcommittee chairman Larry Brewster said he was disappointed by the result.
Councilmember Shaun Brown said not offering $5,000 more to the salary was a mistake.
Billings Chamber of Commerce's Dan Brooks urged the council to reconsider negotiations and the chamber found Doyon to be the best candidate for the position.
The final city council meeting of the year before new council members and a new mayor are sworn in will be Monday, Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m.
The city released a copy of the letter Doyon wrote informing them of his decision:
December 15, 2017
Mayor Hanel and City Council Members:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment regarding our contract negotiations. W.D. indicated that the sub-committee desired my final thoughts before transmitting its recommendation to the full Council.
Before commenting further, I want to thank the Council for extending an employment offer to me. I was able to visit with Mayor Hanel, Mayor-Elect Cole, and Council Member Brewster after the announcement and share my appreciation directly. I hope that my sentiment was passed along to the remainder of the Council. If not, please know that the unanimous decision was humbling and appreciated.
I also enjoyed meeting the department head team, city employees, and residents during the interview process. Billings is on the move and it seems that the community has the right mix of professionals at the helm. It would be an honor to work and serve with the people I met.
My understanding is that the sub-committee is willing to make recommendations on elements of a proposed contract, but did not come to agreement on salary. Instead, the sub-committee requested I provide further “input” before submitting their findings to the full City Council this coming Monday. In other words, although some members have been vocal about wages, there is currently no majority agreement on a starting salary.
Some of these comments include that applicants should have known what the salary range was when they applied. The City’s recruitment brochure stated in part:
The starting annual salary for the City Administrator position for the City of Billings will be market competitive depending upon the qualifications and experience of the selected candidate. The current administrator is paid $155,000. An excellent fringe benefit plan, including car allowance, life insurance and a defined compensation contribution, will be provided as well. Reasonable relocation expense reimbursement will be negotiated.
The market information provided to the Council was from reliable sources (ICMA, direct calls) upon the request of the city’s recruiter. I willingly provided it in order to assist the Council with its deliberations.
I appreciate the time and effort that the Council members have spent with the recruitment process and negotiations. However, if the sub-committee cannot come to a consensus on wages at its level, I do not believe there will be agreement at the full Council level either.
I am truly grateful for the offer to lead Billings as its next city administrator, but I am not in a position to accept an overall compensation package that is less than market competitive. I do not come to this conclusion lightly. I am sure you all understand that I need to do what is best for my family and our future.
When deciding whether to take a new city management position, it is about more than just the compensation package. For the candidate, it is also about observing how the elected officials who he/she will work for, recruits and retains its leadership. While the Council made a unanimous decision to offer me the job, I have not seen that support translate into an employment agreement appropriate for the position.
As such, I respectfully decline the employment offer. I am disappointed that we could not reach mutually agreeable terms for a full Council vote, but understand that there are other capable candidates ready to accept the position.
Thank you again and I wish the best for Billings.