December 18, 2014

Hillman selected as Standish’s interim city manager

City to continue search for full-time manager

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — The City of Standish has its interim city manager.

Curt Hillman was selected by the Standish City Council as interim city manager by a vote of 5-0, during a special meeting held Tuesday, Aug. 30. Council members Tosha Tunney and Doug Ireland were absent. The position is currently part time and Mayor Mark Winslow said he will meet with Hillman to discuss a contract sometime this week.

The vote comes after a 3-2 vote was made during the city council meeting on Aug. 18. The vote did not pass because the council needed four votes to pass the motion according to the city charter.

Hillman said he was pleased with the council’s decision and is looking forward to taking over the position.

“We are definitely ready to hit the ground running,” he said. “I hope to sit down with (Mayor) Mark Winslow and get the details hammered out.”

Hillman said one of the things he wants to begin work on right away is the city’s financial position.

“Our financial position needs to get better; it has to get better,” he said. “We can’t allow the state to come in here and take us over. We have to find ways to save money and we have to be creative doing so.”

Although the council selected Hillman to step in on a part-time basis, members of the council also expressed that they want to continue a search for a full-time city manager.

“We have to spend money to make money,” said Jerry Nelson, mayor pro-tem. “If it takes us six months, eight months, a year or whatever, we still need a full-time manager.”

Winslow said he has reached out to the Michigan Municipal League, a non-profit organization that supports municipalities across the state, to see what candidates may be available. He added that seven candidates have come forward with interest in the full time position.

“We definitely are going to get some feelers out there to see what is available,” he said.

Hillman, who is the owner of Arenac Abstract and Title and is also the Standish Township supervisor, said he is interested in pursuing the full-time city manager position.

“I would not have taken this position without thinking there was a future down the road,” he said. “I know we needed an interim manager now, but I would like to go for the full-time position.”

Hillman said he checked with lawyers and legislators on the state and local levels to be sure there would be no conflict with him becoming the Standish city manager at the same time he is the Standish Township supervisor.

“The city manager position is a hired position, while I am in an elected position in Standish Township. Therefore there is no conflict,” he said.

Hillman also said that he would consider selling Arenac Abstract and Title, but at this time he believes that he can handle both positions.

“I have talked with my wife and others about this and I would not have applied if I thought this was something I could not handle,” he said. “If I were to be hired full-time, I would have to look at doing something with my business.”

Council member Ed Reno voted in favor of Hillman, but stated some concerns with having him take the position, in regards to Hillman’s role with the Prison Watch group, which was designed earlier this year to dispel rumors surrounding Standish Maximum Correctional Facility.

“Our last city manager spent a lot of time in his office working with that group and that is something I do not want to see,” Reno said. “It’s (Standish Max) closed. Period. It’s going to stay that way. We don’t need a city manager working on something that does not involve us right now.”

Reno said he wants Hillman to focus on the issues of the city.

“We need to focus on the city, its finances and finding ways to improve,” he said.

Other candidates who interviewed include Kimberly Karpinski of Sterling, Rodney Neubecker of Alger and Vicky Chmura of Twining.

Hillman said he is ready to get started.

“There are going to be some tough decisions ahead,” he said. “Hopefully we can all work together as a team to get the city of Standish into the best financial situation possible.”

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