By Alison Ecklund
Sedona City Council approved to pay its next possible city manager more than its last.
On Monday, April 6, council approved, 7-0, a contract for the city manager from Bullhead City, Tim Ernster, to become Sedona’s new city manager for a base salary of $167,500.
Former City Manager Eric Levitt, who retired in December after 12 years at the city, was earning $123,000.
The contract is now in Ernster’s hands, professional recruiter Phil McKenney of Peckham & McKenney said Tuesday, April 7.
McKenney expected Ernster would have an answer by the end of Tuesday, he said.
On March 27, council selected Ernster as the No. 1 candidate out of the top four finalists who came to Sedona for interviews March 26 and 27.
Council was seeking an excellent communicator with experience as a leader and unquestionable integrity.
It wanted someone with a strong financial background, including budgeting in a sales tax driven economy and someone with proven experience managing a tourism-based community.
Council also wanted someone who would be visible and actively involved in the community.
It offered a salary range between $140,000 and $180,000 depending on qualifications.
Ernster, who has a Master of Public Affairs from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Northern Arizona University, has 34 years experience in local government.
He’s been city manager of Bullhead City since 2006 and spent two years in the position in Lake Havasu City.
Ernster worked for the city of Glendale from 1979 to 2000, first as assistant to the city manager, then moving on to field operations director and deputy city manager in community services, administrative services and community development.
Bullhead City has two similarities with Sedona, Ernster said. They both have a highway running through the center and they are both run on sales tax revenue.
Ernster was a top candidate in 2001 for Sedona city manager, before the search was canceled and Levitt, who was already working at the city, took the seat.
An avid hiker and backpacker, Ernster and his wife, Helen, consider Sedona a special place, he said.
Alison Ecklund can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail