In its search for someone to coordinate the day-to-day operations of the Wood River Valley's largest municipality, the city of Hailey has decided to rank local knowledge over out-of-area experience.
On Friday, Hailey City Clerk Heather Dawson confirmed that Jim Spinelli, the Hailey Chamber of Commerce executive director and an individual with strong ties to the Wood River Valley community, has been hired as the new Hailey city administrator.
Dawson, who in her various duties for Hailey will likely work quite closely with the new city administrator, said Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant made the final decision to select Spinelli for the top staff position.
"She (McBryant) has made the offer to Jim Spinelli, and he has accepted," Dawson said.
In the coming weeks, Spinelli will begin working for the city part-time and will be at his post representing the city at an Aug. 28 City Council meeting, Dawson said. He won't be at full-time status until Oct. 1 to allow for a more smooth transition at the chamber of commerce, she said.
Spinelli's starting pay will be an entry-level salary of $60,000 a year, Dawson said. That was the salary that was advertised along with the city's announcement of the open position.
Previous salaries for the position of Hailey city administrator, something the city has been without since former city administrator Jim Azumano resigned in 2004 to take a job in Oregon, were somewhat higher. For his services, Azumano was paid $88,400 a year.
Heading up the city's hiring process for a new city administrator was a committee comprising two citizens-at-large, two Hailey City Council members, Dawson and McBryant. The position was advertised throughout Idaho during the month of June and drew a wide range of candidates from Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon and Montana.
After whittling the large pool of applicants down to four qualified candidates, interviews were conducted by the selection committee on Aug. 3 and 4, Dawson said.
"The whole group worked in the interview process," she said.
From there, the candidates were pared down further to two final applicants. McBryant interviewed and selected Spinelli, Dawson said.
In a news release sent out by the city on Monday to announce the hiring, Spinelli's professional strengths were highlighted.
"Spinelli brings an extensive background in large group management and training, corporate budgeting, development management and risk management to the position," the press release states.
Spinelli's hiring is pursuant to the outcome of a ballot measure Hailey voters were asked to consider on May 23. If it had been approved, the measure would have required Hailey to switch from its current mayor-city council form of government, which can include an administrator, to a city manager-city council form of government, which does not.
Sponsored by former Hailey Mayor Al Lindley, the controversial change in city governance was rejected by Hailey residents in a largely one-sided 586-to-278 vote.
Unlike city managers, city administrators are hired and have their duties delegated to them by a city's mayor.
Spinelli was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment.