The Rio Rancho Governing Body has rejected all applicants for the city manager position.

“After interviewing four candidates for the city manager position last week, the governing body was unable to formally rank a minimum of three as called for by the city’s charter,” said Mayor Tom Swisstack in a news release. “The governing body greatly appreciates the candidates’ interest in the position, and thanks the citizens that attended the community forum to learn more about them.”

About 50 elected officials, city employees and members of the community attended a forum Friday night in which the four candidates spoke about themselves and mingled with attendees.

One applicant, Tim Zisoff, withdrew his candidacy before the event. The four who participated were Deer Park, Texas, Assistant City Manager Gary Jackson; Albuquerque native and Castle Rock, Colo., Director of Finance Charles Montoya; Princeton, N.J., township Manager Jim Pascale; and employment consultant and former Lyon County, Nev., Manager Dennis Stark.

The decision was announced Tuesday, and the new deadline to submit applications is Jan. 18, 2013. City Attorney James Babin will continue acting as city manager, as he has since former City Manager James Jimenez was forced to retire in July, according to the release.

Swisstack said the governing body was looking for a candidate who could bridge philosophies, paint a picture of where he or she saw the city going, interact with the community, find federal money, help the council establish priorities and establish a business-friendly environment while addressing quality of life, and who had experience with fast-growing communities with limited budgets.

New advertisement

In the new advertisement for the position, qualifications will stay the same, Swisstack said, but the governing body will look at compensation based on qualifications.

“We’re trying to broaden the pool of applicants,” he said.

The previous advertisement listed compensation as much as $135,000 a year, depending on qualification and experience, plus benefits.

The city will advertise locally, through regional municipal leagues, nationally through the International City/County Management Association and on the city website, according to the release.

The minimum qualifications are listed as a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, public administration or a related field and 10 years of progressively responsible municipal experience, with five years in a supervisory capacity. A master’s degree in public administration or a related field, and experience leading a community of similar size are strongly preferred.

The four candidates the governing body interviewed Thursday and Friday were picked from among 40 applicants, 26 of which were considered qualified.

City process

As per the city charter, to pick a city manager, the governing body or a committee of its members screens candidates and rank at least three and no more than five, according to the release. The mayor must appoint one of those candidates within 10 days, and the council must confirm the appointment.

Swisstack said the governing body did a good job evaluating applicants.