The next Hutchinson city manager may not have a contract that allows him to do outside consulting work for pay, as City Manager John Deardoff is permitted.

In 2017, a section was added to Deardoff’s contract that said while employment with the city shall be the employee’s primary employment, he “may elect to accept limited teaching, consulting or other business opportunities" with the understanding that they must neither interfere with nor pose a conflict of interest with his job as city manager.

As a consultant with Osernbaugh Consulting, Derby, Deardoff has participated in city manager searches for the cities of Goodland, Paola, Winfield, and Sterling.

“I’m just helping a guy,” Deardoff said, referring to Don Osenbaugh, although he said he does receive compensation.

Continued consulting “and a few other things” are what Deardoff expects to do after he retires at Hutchinson City Hall in March 2020.

The Hutchinson City Council chose a national firm, Strategic Government Resources, for its city manager search. Kurt Hodgen, the company executive who visited Hutchinson last week to confer with the City Council on the search process, lives in North Carolina. The job opening here will be advertised in December. The goal is to have someone hired by March.

“Until you brought it up, I didn't realize he was actively doing that,” Councilmember Jade Piros de Carvalho said of Deardoff’s consulting work.

If the outside employment was allowed in the contract for the incoming city manager, Piros de Carvalho said, “I think it would really need to be capped as far as the amount of time."  At least for the first three years, she said, a new city manager would “need to be head down” and engaged in leaving about the community.

Allowing outside consulting “makes better sense when you have a seasoned city manager,” Piros de Carvalho said.

When Deardoff raised the consulting topic, Councilmember Jon Daveline said, “We were comfortable with that.” It has not interfered with his responsibilities here, Daveline said.

Daveline said his initial thought regarding the incoming city manager is that “maybe for a period of time the entire focus needs to be on Hutchinson.”

“I think it would kind of depend on what is being proposed,” Councilmember Nancy Soldner said. “A new city manager is probably not going to be looking at that as a contract option in the first few years of employment,” she said. 

“I’m not saying no, not saying yes,” Soldner said, whether the option of dong outside work should be included in the next city manager’s contract.

When the job opening is advertised, it will contain a salary range. Deardoff’s current annual base salary is $167,301.39, and he's permitted to convert up to two weeks’ of accrued vacation per year to taxable income.

Deardoff is taking a hands-off approach to Hutchinson’s city manager search. The city’s Director of Human Resources Tom Sanders is the city staff member serving as the contact person for the search firm.

In coming weeks, a link to a questionnaire put together by Strategic Government Resources and designed to find the characteristics desired in the next city manager will be carried on the city’s Facebook page. People will be encouraged to complete the questionnaire. The responses will go to the search firm.