The clock is ticking on the search for a new city administrator in Mexico Beach.
The City Council held a special meeting Monday to discuss the administrator position which will only be occupied for two more weeks.
In April, city administrator Chris Hubbard resigned leaving former administrator John McInnis to fill in during the interim.
Upon filling in, McInnis only planned to stay in the position through June and as his final day of work approaches the council has yet to fill the role.
In May, council members hired Range Riders, a head hunting group out of Panama City, to help screen candidates.
More than 40 applications were received position and the recruiters whittled them down to a final six that were recommended to the council. Of those six, the council interviewed three over the first weeks of June.
During a special meeting earlier in the month, the council voted to offer the position to Charles Williams of Jasper, Fla. who had gone before the council several weeks earlier.
Williams declined the position and countered the council’s salary offer of $70,000 a year and a start date of July, asking for $85,000, a guaranteed 5-year contract, and a start date of Aug. 1.
“I don’t consider this a viable counter,” said Mayor Al Cathey. “This is him saying no.”
Though the council agreed to send a counter to Williams, the group didn’t have a second choice in the event that Williams declined again. In the event he did, Councilmembers Tanya Castro and Mary Blackburn wanted to go back to the drawing board.
Cathey said it would be a major mistake to start over and expressed concern at what might happen during two months without a city administrator.
“John’s leaving and that’s a strain on the city,” said Cathey. “Two months without anybody would be a tough time.”
Castro said that she didn’t believe the council should simply settle for someone else and wanted to consider other candidates from Range Riders’ list.
“We’re not the first city to be without a key position,” said Castro. “I don’t think we should just jump into something.”
No council members were interested in offering a guaranteed 5-year contract to Williams, and agreed to consider 12 additional candidates if Williams declined again.
Mary Blackburn passed a motion to counter Williams’ offer with a salary of $75,000, a 6-month probationary period and a start date of Aug. 1 with Cathey and Councilman Jack Mullen dissenting.
The council agreed that if Williams declined the new offer the interview process would begin anew.