FAIRMONT — The commissioners here laid out a plan Tuesday on how to conduct a search for a new, full-time town manager during a special called meeting.
A rush was put on the Board of Commissioners to began the search process after interim Town Manager Ricky Harris submitted his letter of resignation, effective Wednesday, during an emergency called meeting that took place Sept. 22. During the Sept. 22 meeting, commissioners voted to let the Lumber River Council of Governments conduct the search for a town manager.
David Richardson, Lumber River Council of Governments executive director, presented a list of suggestions Tuesday that included proposed job requirements, an application timeline, and advertisement options. The LRCOG based its suggestions on past experience facilitating managerial searches for the town in 2011 and 2015.
“Our goal for the COG in the previous two searches is to help facilitate the process,” Richardson said.
Richardson suggested board members advertise on social media and in career centers at universities that offer master’s degree programs in public administration, which is a free and “effective” advertising option. The commissioners agreed to run paid advertisements for the position with The Robesonian, the League of Municipalities and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
Richardson suggested updating the position’s job description. In the past, there have been a list of duties for the town manager and the assistant town manager/planner/zoning. The latter position was eliminated in 2006 and combined with the manager’s position.
“There has not been a job description to incorporate all of that into one job description,” Richardson said.
Education qualifications for the job include a required minimum of a bachelor’s degree in public or business administration, planning, civil engineering or any other related field. The preferred requirement is a master’s degree in either of the fields.
But, a majority of the discussion Tuesday involved the number years of experience required or preferred.
“You want to get your broadest pool and narrow it down,” Richardson said.
In past searches, the job description has listed a requirement of at least three years of experience, and on another occasion five, he said. For a rural, small town like Fairmont, it’s been his experience that most applicants are either looking to begin their career as a town manager or are nearing the end of their careers, Richardson said.
Mayor Charles Townsend said he knew of someone who did not have much experience that did a “great” job.
“It’s about people’s abilities,” Townsend said.
Commissioner Monte McCallum proposed a required minimum of three years and a preferred minimum of five years of town managerial experience.
“You’ve got to require something,” McCallum said.
Commissioner Charles Kemp suggested a preferred three to five years of experience. The suggestion was supported by the other commissioners.
The deadline to submit applications will be Oct. 30. Applications will be sent to the commissioners for review on Nov. 6 and the Board of Commissioners is to meet 6 p.m. Nov. 10 to narrow down the pool of applicants. No date for conducting interviews was set.
Ricky Harris submitted his resignation because his earnings from the town would affect his Social Security benefits. Harris was making $2,000 bi-weekly in the interim role. He was picked to be interim town manager during an April 21 commissioners meeting held via video conference. Harris assumed the role after former Town Manager Katrina Tatum turned in on April 6 a notice of her intention to retire effective May 7.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.