The Monterey City Council has gotten itself out from under a time crunch to find a new city manager, but divisions about the task are continuing to crop up.

On a 3-2 vote, the council decided this week to seek proposals for executive recruitment firms for the second time since the city began a quest for a successor to outgoing City Manager Fred Meurer.

Mayor Chuck Della Sala and Councilman Frank Sollecito cast the dissenting votes. Della Sala recommended hiring Avery and Associates, a Los Gatos search firm that was among the top three finishers in the city's first go-around with recruiters.

"I felt it was unnecessary to go out and have a 60-day period," Della Sala said.

Councilwoman Nancy Selfridge said Friday, however, that she wanted a new batch of recruiters from which to select.

"Hopefully we will get as many offers as we can," she said.

Earlier this month, the council decided to embark on a second recruitment after five would-be candidates for the manager's job failed to elicit much excitement among council members.

Meurer, who has been the city's top administrator for 22 years, originally planned to retire by Sept. 1, but he said this week he would be willing to stay in the job through December.

"We are very thankful he is willing to do that," Della Sala said.

Selfridge said, "That gives us a guideline. ... It means we don't have to push right now."

The council also was scheduled to discuss the possible need to hire an interim manager, but Selfridge said there was confusion over that issue.

Selfridge said the city needs a plan that would enable the hiring of an interim manager if the search for a permanent hire hasn't produced results as Meurer's exit nears.

"This just says we have a plan," she said.

Della Sala wants to revisit another issue that caused friction during the first recruitment. After considerable debate, the council advertised the manager's job with a compensation offered in the low $200,000. Some argued that hemmed in the city when it came to luring applicants.

"It is worth a discussion," Della Sala said. "Are we offering the right salary to attract the right talent we need to manage and lead a city of the complexity of Monterey?"

Selfridge said most cities simply advertise that the salary will depend on qualifications, without a specific salary level.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.