The Chadron City Council needed only about 5 minutes Monday to decide that if its top pick to be city manager doesn’t want the job, they’d offer it to the #2 choice. Negotiations will start shortly with John Sutherland of Rapid City.
The council selected former Seward, AK, city manager Scott Meszaros as its top choice on April 15, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement on salary last Wednesday and Meszaros withdrew his name the next day.
Mayor Mark Werner says Meszaros and Sutherland of Rapid City were more like 1 and 1A than 1 and 2 in the initial selection, so the council doesn’t feel like it’s having to settle for second-best.
Werner says there were no big differences between Meszaros and Sutherland, who retired in July 2019 after 7 years as city administrator in the southeast Colorado town of Lamar.
Among the similarities, both had lots of experience in government administration. Before going to Lamar, Sutherland served in leadership roles for Tucumcari, NE, Luna County, NM, and Native American governments in Arizona.
Werner says in some ways, Sutherland is a better fit for Chadron than Meszaros. For one, he’s visited the city a lot over the years.
Also in Sutherland’s favor – he can start sooner because he would be moving only about 100 miles instead of from Alaska.
Retired Chadron Public Works Director Milo Rust will remain interim city manager until the new permanent choice takes over – which Rust hopes will be just as soon as possible.