Brookhaven City Council members learned last week at its strategy and planning retreat that several applicants for city manager are in the process of being interviewed with the expectation of having one hired in the near future.

While meeting at the Inn at Serenbe in Palmetto, Ga., on Friday, March 18, Mayor John Ernst told council members the last day to interview potential new city managers is Wednesday, March 23. Five or six candidates will make the final cut for the entire council to talk to and then the mayor will select the finalist, as dictated by the city’s charter.

“As for a timeframe — I don’t know,” Ernst said.

Interim City Manager Gary Yandura said the city received numerous applications.

Part of the retreat included council members identifying what traits they wanted in a city manager.

“We are coming out of a startup style. We need a seasoned city manager who knows how to deal with a maturing city,” said Councilman Joe Gebbia.

Added Councilwoman Linley Jones, “We need a city manager who is comfortable in the environment of a city of our size and who has experience with a city of our size and sophistication” to include the council’s goals and resources.

“I want a sausage maker,” Ernst said, meaning someone who knows how to do the grunt work behind the scenes and present a complete package to council.

During the retreat, council expressed frustration with former city manager Marie Garrett, who was first suspended and nearly fired by council in January before hashing out a separation agreement with the city to the tune of $225,000.

For example, the city department heads have never held staff meetings to go over ongoing projects with each other. This has led to a major communication problem between staff and the council and one that council hopes will be dealt with when a new city manager is hired.

“We want a city manager … that will focus on operations and communications of the city,” said Ernst.