A step was taken Monday by the Joplin City Council toward hiring a search firm to seek candidates for the post of Joplin city manager.

The city attorney had issued a request for proposals from executive search firms, and nine responded.

Council members discussed their initial picks from the documents they received and agreed to conduct telephone interviews with three: Austin Peters Group Inc., Overland Park, Kansas; Strategic Government Resources, Keller, Texas; and Management Partners, Cincinnati, Ohio. The council approved a motion by member Ryan Stanley to ask the city attorney to schedule telephone interviews.

Member Taylor Brown said he would like to have the right to walk away if the council does not find a suitable firm from the phone interviews and look at others that submitted proposals.

Member Melodee Colbert-Kean said she would like to have a designated time frame to select a firm so the city manager search could proceed.

Mayor Gary Shaw said the council should have a firm in place in soon with a goal of a new city manager in place by the end of the year.

Former manager Sam Anselm and the council parted ways March 11 in what the mayor said was a mutually agreeable resignation. Anselm was given severance pay equal to his salary of $3,040 a week for up to seven months or until he finds another job. He also was paid for unused vacation time and floating holidays, and has family health and dental insurance during that period.

The city's health department director, Dan Pekarek, has been serving as interim city manager.

In other business, a report was made from a committee of residents appointed by the council to oversee the spending of special sales tax funds, the Capital Improvement and Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee.

Chairman Ryan Jackson reported that the city has been carrying out the lists of projects that were agreed upon when voters approved the taxes.

All of the projects tied to the half-cent public safety sales tax have been completed except the construction of an east side fire station and any streetlights that were to be installed under the agreement for that tax.

When voters approved the tax, the city had agreed to double the number of streetlights to cut down on crime in unlit areas of the city.

Liberty Utilities-Empire District last week gave a report to the council on the number of streetlights installed with the transportation sales tax and the number from the public safety sales tax as the result of questions being raised by the committee.

Liberty-Empire officials said that in researching their records they believe that 2,279 have been installed and that another 199 would fulfill the vow based on the number of lights in operation in 2006. The tax took effect Jan. 1, 2007.

Jackson said the city has received requests from residents in several areas to install lights or more of them. Those areas include Wildwood Ranch; Silver Creek Village, which was annexed into the city a few years ago; neighborhoods north of 20th Street and west of Wall Avenue; and on 32nd Street east of Range Line Road.

Jackson also said the utility company should provide the city with information about how many lights have been or will be converted to energy-saving LED bulbs. Those tax funds pay the bills for electricity used by the lights.

There are two members of the commission whose names were not listed by the city and did not appear in a Globe story in Monday's edition. Residents Morris Glaze and Greg Wilkerson also are members of the committee.

Jackson said that the commission also encourages the city to identify how it will pay for maintenance of streets built or expanded in future years that cannot be covered by the current revenue generated by the taxes.

Council members praised the work of the committee to try to get an accounting regarding the streetlights and for its other recommendations. Council member Anthony Monteleone said the committee's work exemplifies "forward-thinking."

Member Phil Stinnett said that since the committee meets quarterly, "hopefully by the time you meet again you will receive more information from Liberty," regarding the streetlight count. Stinnett had questioned the utility's map last week, saying that some of the lights attributed the public safety sales tax existed before the tax went into effect.

In other action, the council approved:

• A $1.045 million contract for a neighborhood construction project to update streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters in an area between Ohio and Connecticut avenues between 15th and 20th streets.

• A contract with Bluebird Network to pay a $5,000 monthly fee for 10 years for use of underground city right of way to install telecommunications lines.

• A contract for $51,480 with Deborah Person & Co. for appraisal services for the 32nd Street widening project.

• Demolition of dilapidated houses at 402 N. Joplin Ave. and 2206 S. Schifferdecker Ave. by Gator Demolition for $4,133 and $4,271, respectively; and at 144 N. Cox Ave., 1218 E. North St. and 1012 E. Second St., by Nelson Demolition, with the first two costing $3,249 each and the third costing $3,649.