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Mon, Feb. 17

Cottonwood still seeks community development director applicants

COTTONWOOD — The next leader of a key City of Cottonwood department will come from a larger applicant pool than what initially materialized, at the direction of the city manager.

Cottonwood City Manager Ron Corbin said Friday he extended the posting of the position of community development director, which was vacated when Berrin Nejad put in her notice in September.

“When we looked at the applications after the first review date (Oct. 25), the number of high-quality applicants was not quite where we wanted it,” Corbin said. “So we extended it for two more weeks.”

While the next review date is this Friday, Nov. 8, the position will remain open until filled. The salary range is $73,000 to $108,000.

In the interim, Scott Ellis is the acting planning manager, and Buidling Official Paul Hodges reports directly to the city manager.

Corbin said considers the community development director position to be impactful all-around. While Corbin, who took over as city manager in January, has been able to re-assign or redefine roles to this point, Nejad’s resignation marks the first director position Corbin will fill with a direct replacement.

“This position affects planning, building, zoning, appearances — there’s a lot,” Corbin said. “There were fewer than 15 employees under Berrin, but So we want to make absolutely sure we have the most-talented person there. We have a good field of applicants, but we want to make it stronger.”

Longtime Cottonwood Community Development Director George Gehlert retired in 2013, with Nejad a native of Istanbul, Turkey, returning to Arizona from Leavenworth, Kan., to take the position. Nejad is an Arizona State University graduate who had also run the planning and development department for

Surprise, Ariz., which has a population ten times as large as Cottonwood.

Corbin said there have been internal applicants. City policy governs salary increases for transfers or promotions within city staff, with a 10 percent increase or the bottom of the range.

Corbin said he “might not be able to afford a great external candidate.” He said he would definitely be able to “afford” the midpoint, or, in this case, about $91,000, which was Nejad’s salary, because the city budgets for director salaries.

Corbin also said he would look at what other directors are paid; the fire and police chiefs at more than $120,000. Economic Development Manager Richard Faust is paid more than $140,000.

Eleven Cottonwood employees have base annual salaries of at least $100,000.

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