Frisco City Council Begins Search for New City Manager

The Frisco City Council nominated Tony O’Rourke as the new City Manager at its July 13, 2021 meeting. On January 17, he submitted a letter of resignation effective January 18.
Tony O’Rourke/Courtesy Photo

Following the resignation last week of Frisco City Manager Tony O’Rourke, the Frisco City Council officially began its search for a new manager during a business session on Tuesday, January 25. The process began by first giving city staff approval to use a recruiting firm to recruit the next general manager.

Frisco’s human resources manager, O’Lynda Fette, explained during the working session that Frisco has had five city managers since 2011, including interim managers. Excluding acting, she said the average stay was just under three years, with the longest being five years.

O’Rourke had the shortest tenure of these, working at Frisco for less than six months. He was appointed to the position by the Frisco City Council on July 13 and officially began work on August 2.

“I’m sure we all agree that we are looking for stability and longevity in our next GM going forward,” Fette said.

Fette said that in the past, the city has relied primarily on internal recruiting with significant support from former city managers. As an example, O’Rourke once worked with former city manager Nancy Kerry in South Lake Tahoe, California.

O’Rourke also previously worked at Beaver Creek and Cañon City; Yakima, Washington; and Panama City Beach and Coral Springs in Florida.

During this latest research, Fette said an outside firm would help objectively source candidates, select and interview people, narrow down choices and more. She said companies typically charge 15% to 20% of the position’s annualized salary, meaning it would cost the city about $40,000.

The money would come from the city’s general fund; however, the cost was not factored into the 2022 budget. Fette’s report said funds can be drawn from the $928,193 surplus budgeted in 2022 that currently needs to be transferred to the capital fund.

At another meeting, staff will provide a list of businesses for the council to choose from. According to Fette’s staff report, the city charter states that the council has six months to appoint a new manager. Diane McBride will serve as interim City Manager.

O’Rourke replaced acting city manager Jeff Durbin and Kerry, who resigned in April. O’Rourke said he quit to move back to Florida, where his wife lives.

“My wife is there, among other opportunities, and I made the decision. I quit,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I’ve only had a positive experience. I like the community, they have good advice and I think we’ve achieved a lot in six months.

Approval of O’Rourke’s release and separation was placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting. The consent agenda is usually made up of various items that can be approved by the city council in a general motion without discussion. Although there was no discussion, council member Andrew Aerenson was the only official to vote “no” on the motion.

When asked Wednesday, Jan. 26, why he voted that way, Aerenson told Summit Daily News he wanted to show there was no consensus.

“I wish Tony the best as he moves on to his next chapter,” Aerenson said. “I really enjoyed working with him. My vote was tied to Tony’s resignation and was based on my disagreement with the process and to reflect that there was no consensus on the board during the executive session staff discussions.

Aerenson declined to give further details. According to past city council agendas, there were executive sessions on “staffing matters regarding city manager performance reviews” on November 9.November 30 and January 11. Although O’Rourke’s contract said the first performance review was to take place in January 2022, city spokeswoman Vanessa Agee said it was at the council’s discretion.

With the motion approved, the city agreed to pay O’Rourke $141,465.24, subject to applicable deductions and withholdings, payable within 14 days of signing the agreement. O’Rourke’s annual base salary was $155,000, according to his contract. Agee could not comment on the amount of the severance package and said the figure was likely decided in executive session.

Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen thanked O’Rourke for his work during Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s been a whirlwind of accomplishments and activities with Tony and the city, and I just want to personally wish him the very best for his next endeavors and adventures in life, and appreciate his time here and the accomplishments that have been made at that time,” Mortensen said. “Thank you, Tony, for all of that.”

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