Littleton council lands recruitment firm as it searches for its next city manager

Process could take three to four months before final candidate is selected

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With a search firm secured, the City of Littleton is entering is beginning the process to replace City Manager Mark Relph, who announced plans to retire in June.

On Feb. 1, the city council unanimously approved a contract with California-based firm CPS HR Consulting. The firm will be paid at flat rate of $25,000 for what is expected to be a three to four-month recruitment process.

According to Noël Mink, director of human resources for the City of Littleton, that expense could rise depending on other costs not included in the firm’s flat rate. Unexpected costs may include travel costs for candidates council may want to interview. 

The city council has already held two closed-door meetings regarding the recruitment process. During the first executive session on Dec. 14, the council told city staff to provide a modified list of search firms. On Jan. 18, councilmembers interviewed three firms before landing on CPS. 

Though the firm is based outside the state, it has a history of recruitments for local governments throughout Colorado, including with the cities of Aurora, Greeley and Boulder. The firm has a regional office in Littleton. 

“They understand Colorado, they understand Littleton, they understand the market,” said Kelli Narde, spokesperson for the City of Littleton. “I think that’s a great benefit for us.” 

Narde, who has seen three city managers in her time with Littleton, said she expects several finalists to be put forward for the position but added “we’re just at the beginning of this recruitment process.”

Narde said a baseline salary for the position has yet to be determined. 

According to the timeline outlined by CPS, “aggressive recruiting” will begin in March, with leading candidates to be selected in April. A final selection and appointment could come in May, according to the timeline. 

“All search activities up to and including the selection of a new city manager can be completed in 12 to 14 weeks, but CPS HR will work with the city to accommodate the timeline to meet their needs,” the firm said in a document presented to city council. The timeline it included accommodates for a search that could last as long as 16 weeks. 

Relph, who has served as city manager since 2017, announced in December that he plans to step down on June 1. Before serving as city manager, Relph was Littleton’s public works director in 2015 and acting city manager in 2016. 

“I’ve had a rewarding career but my work with the City of Littleton has been the most gratifying,” Relph said in a December statement. “We have accomplished a lot and I couldn’t have done anything without my talented staff and our supportive city council."

As city manager, Relph was charged with implementing the city council's agenda as well as advising council on budgeting and long-term goals. 

A veteran of public affairs, Relph oversaw several of the most major policy proposals adopted by Littleton’s city council in years with the Envision Littleton Plan, Comprehensive Plan and Unified Land Use Code that seek to overhaul the city’s planning, zoning and development processes. 

Relph also worked on the frontlines of Ballot Issue 3A, which raised the city’s sales tax by 0.75% after it was approved by voters in the November election. The new revenue will fund the city’s Capital Projects Fund, which pays for vital city infrastructure upkeep and which was projected to hit $0 by 2025 without 3A’s passage. 

"We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and June,” Relph said. “But I believe that after our city council retreat in February, we’ll come out with a set of goals that we can hand off to the next city manager to accomplish.”

mark relph, littleton city manager, cps consulting, Littleton City Council

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