Council votes Wednesday on manager applicants

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lewisburg councilmen are ranking their top three nominees for the second cut of applicants to be the next city manager and they're voting during a special session Wednesday in City Hall.

Saturday afternoon, the council completed its ninth and last interview of applicants for the position vacated by Eddie Fuller, who retired in late October. There were nearly 30 applicants for the job that will probably pay up to $80,000 starting this year.

The decision to meet at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19 was reached by consensus as some councilmen said they'd rather "sleep on it," instead of indicating preferences that Saturday afternoon.

Never the less, it would appear that a few candidates had made a remarkably good impression as Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. said he thinks "several" will be named by a good percentage of the five councilmen. In other words, one might conclude that on Wednesday evening there may be two or three semi-finalists instead of five or six out of nine applicants who survived the first cut.

Another realization was evident during council discussion when the 4:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting date was set.

The city ought to have what's commonly called a strategic plan, complete with goals and a timetable. That management tool was mentioned more than a couple of times during the last several interviews.

"Those who have experienced [as city managers] mentioned it," Whitehead said.

Such applicants listed some of their goals at other municipalities and one said that after the strategic plan was completed for a town he managed, he decided he'd like to work somewhere else and start the process over again.

"We need to do that with a city manager," Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart said.

She's focused on the goal of hiring a city manager while some of the others look toward resolving an on-going controversy over the sewer billing system that's festered for more than five months.

Meanwhile, Mayor Barbara Woods has served as an interim manager and she's been deferring a decision on who the city should hire as its next stormwater and codes officer.

In Lewisburg, the city manager hires, fires and evaluates all city employees except the city attorney and recorder/treasurer who, like the city manager, are hire by the council.

Fuller worked for the city during four decades and was city manager for more than 16 years. Discussion among City Hall officials shows that most managers have a much shorter tenure.