Mayor Ron Nirenberg
Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced San Antonio's next city manager will be hired through a public, transparent process early next year. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

San Antonio’s next city manager will be hired through a public, transparent process early next year, Mayor Ron Nirenberg told reporters Wednesday evening after he discussed the process with City Council colleagues.

Update: The job description and application instructions were posted online Thursday evening on the City’s website here.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 3, Nirenberg said, and he expects the City will have a new top executive in place by the end of that month. Internal and external candidates may apply, he added, but the City will not be hiring an executive search firm.

“We have an executive recruiter here in the City’s organization who will handle it,” he said, and City Council will make the final decision.

The City will have to work within the boundaries of new rules surrounding compensation and term limits for future city managers that were approved by voters Nov. 6. Total annual compensation cannot exceed 10 times that of the lowest-paid full-time City employee (or roughly $300,000) and can serve in that role for eight years at most. A supermajority vote by Council is now also required to approve their contract.

“We are abiding by the spirit of what the voters of San Antonio said with Proposition B,” Nirenberg said. “There’s not going to be any flouting of that. … We will stay within the specificity of Proposition B.”

It’s legally unclear if the next contract could add on bonuses and other benefits to the position that exceeds the limit that Proposition B imposed, he said.

Outgoing City Manager Sheryl Sculley, who has held the position for 13 years, has a $475,000 salary and other benefits. She has declined to accept an up to $100,000 performance bonus this year. Sculley has agreed to help the new city manager transition into the position but will stay no later than June 30.

“If we do have an internal candidate selected as the next city manager, I would expect the transition would be much shorter,” Nirenberg said. “It’s not restricted to just internal candidates, but I would expect our most competitive applicants will be here in the city.”

There will be a “public symposium” during which residents can hear from the candidates, Nirenberg said, likely in late January. The City will also release a list of applicants.

The campaign season for the next City election will start in earnest in January, and most seats have already begun to attract challengers. The new city manager could have a new team of bosses after the May election.

“I have no concerns at all [about that] because voters elect their representatives to get the work done professionally and thoughtfully, and that’s what the next Council will be obligated to do,” Nirenberg said, adding that he thinks it’s possible to get a unanimous decision from the current members.

Requirements for the job, as posted on the city’s website, are:

  • A bachelor’s degree in public administration, or related field. A master’s degree is strongly preferred;
  • Ten (10) years of progressively responsible, high-level administrative experience to include six (6) years of experience as a Deputy City Manager / Assistant City Manager / Department Director in comparable
    municipal government;
  • Must have experience managing multiple departments;
  • Must have demonstrated experience in fiscal stewardship, leadership and development, strategic planning and organization, succession planning, dynamic thinking and community engagement;
  • Must be a resident of the City of San Antonio during entire tenure.

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), who will likely run for mayor next year, said the process should have been discussed in a public session.

Brockhouse agreed that the process should be open to the public. “Total transparency is key,” he said. “No closed door meetings. … We don’t need to politicize the hiring process on this at all.”

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org