BILLINGS- After extensive interviews and a tour of Billings, the decision on who will lead the city into the future now rests with the City Council.
On Tuesday, the four finalists sat down to answer questions from the local media.
It was made clear while sitting down with the finalists that collectively, the four city administrator finalists agree, Billings is a city with a lot of opportunity.
“One Big Sky is undeniably an incredible opportunity,” said finalist Chris Kukulski, a former Bozeman city manager.
Another finalist, Jeff Jones said, “People here may feel like, well it needs a facelift, it needs to be re-energized and revitalized. But there’s a lot of people who don’t have what you have and never will. Downtown Billings is certainly alive and well.”
Jones is the deputy city manager of Mesquite, Texas.
Dan Chandler, the assistant county administrator for Clackamas County, Ore., noted the economic-development possibilities for Billings.
“The transformation of that airport will fit into the One Big Sky project, development projects. All these things are going to be a synchronicity,” said Chandler.
The finalists were asked how important they think public taxpayer buy-in is for economic development in Billings.
“I think the taxpayers have to understand the value proposition of the services that we are going to deliver and the projects that we can deliver, and what their tax dollars will buy them,” Jones said.
Chandler added, “I would echo that. I think it’s really about building trust generally. It’s about being open, transparent and accountable about what you are doing all of the time.”
The fourth candidate is Philip Sanders, the former city manager of Anna, Texas.
The Billings City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, at which time they will select the next city administrator and then start negotiations over salary.
A year ago, the Council thought it had a deal with Great Falls City Administrator Greg Doyon. The deal fell through when the two sides could not agree on a salary and benefits package.
Click here for a biography of all four candidates.