Ryan Piche is expected to become the next Caro City Manager effective Feb. 1 after accepting a job offer from Caro City Council on Monday.
Piche, 27, was one of five finalists interviewed by members of Caro City Council Saturday — a day-long affair that began at 9 a.m. and ended at about 4 p.m.
Karen Snider, acting city manager and clerk, Caro, said Piche accepted the offer near the end of the business day Monday.
Piche currently serves as village administrator in the village of Botkins, Ohio.
“I’m really excited to come to the city of Caro,” Piche told The Advertiser. “It just has so much potential, especially in the downtown area, and the people really seemed to be engaged in what is happening in the community, which is always half the battle — trying to get people behind a mission.” Piche also said he believes Caro City Council members “are going to be wonderful to work with,” and gave the group credit for hiring a consultant to help with the search instead of trying to take on the task themselves.
Caro City Council hired Frank Walsh, a consultant with extensive experience in conducting city manager searches, through a $6,000 contract to find the city’s next manager.
Walsh initially told council members that it was going to be a challenge to find applicants given the number of similar city manager positions open in Michigan and the time of year.
However, Walsh helped council secure applications from 26 potential candidates — a field that was narrowed by city council members to five for Saturday’s interviews.
Caro Mayor Joe Greene said it was Piche’s experience and background that set him apart.
“The main thing, I feel, is that he has actual, hands-on experience in being a manager,” Greene said Tuesday, pointing out that the community Piche oversees offers many services that Caro does, including police, water, and sewer.
Greene said Piche also acknowledged the challenges currently facing Caro’s downtown area that includes roughly 30 vacant storefronts.
“The other candidates had different degrees of experiences in certain areas, but it didn’t seem like they had the whole ball,” Greene said.
The four other candidates were:
- Jennifer James-Mesloh, MPA assistant professor and program director, Northern Michigan University, Marquette
- Charles Sundblad, director, Caro Department of Public Works
- Jim Coleman, director of housing, facilities, and community development, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Dowagiac
- Charles Watson, retired firefighter at the Gerald R. Ford Airport near Grand Rapids and former council member and mayor, Cedar Springs
Piche — who said he’s originally from upstate New York — earned a master’s degree in public administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany in July 2015.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and English literature from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York in 2012.
He has served as village administrator in Botkins since July 2014.
In that role, Piche oversees 40 full- and part-time employees, and a $2.5 million annual budget. His position includes supervising the work performed by all village employees, and reporting to the village mayor and six-member village council.
Among his proudest accomplishments, he said, are “advances made in data-based performance measurement,” that included ways to measure water and sewer activity, and an “extensive business survey” to get a better handle on current economic indicators, such as employment trends and business needs.
Piche also implemented several technology-based initiatives, such as mapping all utility lines for use with geographic information system (GIS) software.
Before Botkins, from May 2013 to July 2014, Piche held a management intern position in Schenectady County, New York.
The county has an annual budget of $300 million, more than 800 employees, and three collective bargaining units, while reporting to a 15-member county legislature.
Piche worked across departments to manage day-to-day county operations “and projects of strategic importance” to the county manager.
With the Albany, New York-based Empire State Development Corp. 2012-2014, Piche also served two roles: associate industry director and deputy director of industry development. His work within those roles included “all phases of policy development and logistics planning for New York’s 2nd Beer, Wine, Spirits & Cider Summit” and working with entrepreneurs, business owners, and other state agencies “to advance the New York State alcoholic beverage manufacturing industry, and the local agriculture that supports it.”
In his role as Caro city manager, Piche will receive an annual salary of $83,000 — an increase of $18,000 from his current job in Botkins.
Prior to his interview Saturday, Piche provided The Advertiser with a copy of his responses to a preliminary questionnaire that was sent to potential finalists during the vetting process.
“I am interested in serving the city of Caro because I am passionate about municipal management, and because I believe Caro would be a great fit for a young, energetic professional,” Piche wrote. “As a regional hub with an historic downtown, Caro is just the type of community I have been looking for to take the next step in my career.”
The questionnaire also asked potential finalists why they would consider leaving their respective current jobs.
“I am only considering leaving my current position to advance my career in municipal government,” Piche wrote. “I work for an amazing (village) council, and have truly loved serving the Botkins community. But I am ready to take on more. A community with more diverse operations and more complex challenges is appealing to me.”
The hiring of Piche is contingent on him passing background checks, which he indicated on his questionnaire will not be an issue.
Snider will continue serve as acting city manager until Piche begins.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at email@example.com