Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online news service

Lake City News


Lake City City Manager Search Drags On: Headhunter Renee Narloch Looking for New Candidates & Searching Among Those Rejected

Photo of Renee Narloch with copy: Headhunter Renee Narloch. Finding a City Manager for Lake City has become problematic.
Headhunter Renee Narloch during the Glen Adams interview in January.             Observer photo

widget-city-manager-storiesLAKE CITY, FL – The Lake City City Manager search drags on. Last night, almost nine months after her name first came up, headhunter Renee Narloch told the City Council she “received some new applications.”


On July 12, 2021, City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., predicted that then Interim City Manager Ami Fields would be the next City Manager.

Headhunter Renee Narloch was brought to the City Council's attention on July 12, 2021, by then-Councilman Chris Greene.

The City’s purchasing policy says that for purchases greater than or equal to $20,000, “formal bids or solicitations” must be obtained.

Renee Narloch’s bid came in fifty dollars under the limit, the only quote to do so.

Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr.
Fred Koberlein, Jr.                      (file photo)

The City Purchasing Director told the Council that the search for a headhunter had to be put out to bid. City Attorney Koberlein ignored her.

City Attorney Koberlein told the board they could claim an emergency.

Ignoring the rules to claim an emergency, the Council proclaimed an emergency and hired headhunter Narloch.

Last night, Renee Narloch updated the Council on her quest for a City Manager for Lake City.

Mayor Witt began the meeting explaining that Lake City is “the laughing joke of North Florida.” While the Mayor was referencing the wild-west nature of Council meetings over the past couple of years, the City Manager search is not something that has instilled confidence in the public or some members of the City Council.

Last Night In City Hall:
“She Only Presented Two Good Candidates”

Forty-five minutes into the meeting, the subject of the City Manager search came up on the evening's docket.

Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden addressed the City Council. He said, "We need to see some success. We need to see some good candidates brought forward. If not, we need to go back to the drawing board because you keep paying someone that's not producing. We had two candidates; both of them backed out, and the two that you didn't consider – they weren't even in the running. She [Narloch] only presented two good candidates."

Headhunter Narloch then Zoomed into the meeting.

Mayor Witt recognized Ms. Narloch, announcing, “Me and you spoke earlier today. I want you to update the Council and the citizens.”

Ms. Narloch said, “We are in the process of recruiting additional candidates. We have received some new applications. I'm also in conversation with some folks who are considering the opportunity. They have not formally applied yet. Hopefully, they will make the decision to apply for the job.”

Both finalists in the last round of Ms. Narloch’s search pulled out. While both candidates appear to have taken job offers elsewhere, the truth of why they rejected Lake City has not been admitted by the Council..

Ms. Narloch continued, “I'm very cautious about having discussions with people if they're involved with some other process somewhere else. That they finish that out, or they are very upfront about it and give me their word on a commitment to come to Lake City as we move forward.”

Ms. Narloch said she would be prepared to make recommendations of candidates at the next City Council meeting. “It may be a handful of candidates, but at least we would know what we are looking at that moment in time…you could give me direction if you feel comfortable moving forward to the next step…I will work with staff to have them check your calendars for video interviews as soon as a week after that…I do not want to belabor this and wait around. Time is not on our side when we wait.”

Ms. Narloch asked if the Mayor had any questions.

Mayor Witt said he didn’t, adding, “I know that you are reaching out to people and maybe even inactive people that you know who may be good candidates. And we're getting some, and we're looking back at the other applications.”

Councilman Jake Hill
Councilman Jake Hill                    (file photo)

Councilman Jake Hill said, “I want to be sure that there is no one that's interviewing for another job at another location.”

Ms. Narloch responded, “I'm having conversations with candidates about that. As a matter of fact, there is someone who I do want to apply for this job, but they are waiting for a decision elsewhere. I recommended that they wrap that up before they apply or before they express interest in this job.”

Headhunter Narloch wrapped it up by telling the Council, “As always, feel free to call me if you have any questions at any time.”


City Clerk Audrey Sikes
City Clerk Audrey Sikes failed to present Ms. Narloch's contract to the City Council. No one wanted to speak about it.    (file photo)

Your reporter addressed the Council, explaining the contract [between the City and Narloch] was never approved by the City Council. "That's the only time – you guys approve everything. Do you know why the City Council never approved the contract?"

Your reporter asked if the contract was circulated to the Council and if the Council members knew what was in it.

Mayor Witt answered, “I’ve seen it.”

Your reporter said, “You signed it.”

Mayor Witt followed up, “So far we’ve been doin’ everything, there’s been performance on both sides, so we’re kind of past that. To me, it’s the contract we should be doin’.”

Your reporter followed up, “From what I’ve seen, Mr. Koberlein never approved the contract, and he is supposed to approve all contracts.”

City Attorney Koberlein was making quizzical faces.

Your reporter continued, “I've never seen your [Koberlein’s] signature on what I’ve seen from public records. And there was no clause that said if she [Narloch] didn’t provide the city manager…you're starting from square one.”

No one on the Council said they had read the contract.

Your reporter’s next inquiry concerned headhunter Narloch's candidate search. Your reporter wanted to know if Ms. Narloch was "looking for all new candidates" or if the original list – minus the four – was being rehashed to see if she may have overlooked someone.

Mayor Witt answered, “Yes.”

The City Manager Salary

Spread sheet of  city manager salaries
+++ Click to expand

There was discussion about the City Manager salary and the spreadsheet prepared by the Florida League of Cities, which was made available to the City Council and not the public during the last City Council meeting.

So far, the salary Lake City is proposing for its new City Manager is low if anyone can figure out what it is. The $120k salary in 2019 wasn't in the ballpark.

Your reporter said, “I think that you guys need to have some public discussions about what you're going to do about the salaries, so people applying for these jobs know.”

There was no discussion.

Glenel Bowden
Former City Councilman Glenel Bowden addresses the City Council about the City Manager search.

Glenel Bowden came back to the microphone and was permitted to address the Council. He addressed Councilman Hill’s suggestion that the headhunter should only be speaking with folks who have not applied for positions anywhere else.

Mr. Bowden said, “I think it's unreasonable to think that a person is going to apply for the City of Lake City City Manager job, and that's the only job in the world that that person is interested in getting. I think a person should be able to apply for a job that he or she wants to apply for, and if Lake City shakes out, it shakes out… If you can't compete, that's not the candidate's fault. That's the City of Lake City's fault."

Councilman Jefferson said he agreed with Mr. Bowden, but if a person was in negotiation with someone else, "we should know that. I would be concerned about that."


The City Manager search has been known about since last August. The City Council has yet to have an open public discussion regarding what it wants to see in a City Manager.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.