The City Council accepted Tuesday a recommendation from Mayor Kent Evans that it hire a consultant to city services rather than a director of city services.

The consultant will be hired on a six-month contract, which can be extended for an additional six months following a satisfactory performance review by the council. The position could be made permanent after this trial period, Evans said.The council appointed Preston Taylor, superintendent of city services, as acting director of city services until a consultant is hired.

"Mr. Taylor will work with the mayor's office to begin implementing efficiencies immediately," Evans said.

Evans said the position will be advertised in area newspapers, including the local weekly paper.

Tuesday's decision follows the controversial appointment of a director of city services during the January 10th council meeting. At that meeting, the council appointed Gary Spencer, Orem, as director of city services. Spencer had been recommended for the position by a search committee appointed by Evans. However, several American Fork residents protested the city's use of blind ads in Salt Lake area newspapers to advertise the position. Two days after that meeting, Spencer told Evans he was unable to accept the position due to personal considerations.

The search committee originally established to find a director of city services will be used to hire a consultant. A proposal by council member Kay Hutchings to include several residents on the search committee was not accepted by the council.

"We have a charge as elected officials to do certain things," Evans said. "We need to take the responsibility of moving ahead and acting on those charges. The citizens in this community would be shortchanged if they didn't have a mayor and council capable of making this decision."

Evans said hiring a consultant would allow the city to implement forecast planning instead of operating on a crisis basis and would let action rather than finances dictate the direction of the city.