City Manager search starts again

Friday, January 25, 2013

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Lewisburg councilmen agreed the candidates who lost out to now-departed City Manager Tommy Engram should be asked if they are still interested in the job.

At a special called meeting Wednesday, councilman Ronald McRady said he asked city attorney Steve Broadway if they could go back to people they intereviewed for the job last time.

Broadway reported reported he conferred with a couple of other city attorneys, and the concensus was councilmen were free to do as they wished, including returning to previous candidates as McRady suggested.

"We could at least check and see if they are available," agreed Mayor Barbara Woods.

"For the next person, I hope we hire somebody that needs to have a job," said councilman Robin Minor. "Somebody that wants a job."

Engram was over 65 and retired from several successful careers.

"We still have to look at their qualifications," McRady said.

"We could wait until the election, if Mayor Woods is willing to act as City Manager," McRady added.

"I would be in favor of that," exclaimed Minor.

"I don't mind doing it at all," said Woods. "I'll be glad to do whatever you ask me to do."

"We mustn't rush into this," McRady said. "This is the third go-round. We need to look at it from all angles, and take our time."

Councilman Steve Thomas agreed with the suggestion to take plenty of time. Drawing on his experience of hiring in the church and healthcare fields, he said, "I'd like to see them (the candidates) in a social situation, so we get to see their interpersonal skills."

"I feel some obligation to post this job," Thomas continued. "There ought to be a public notice."

Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. agreed with him.

"Six months changes a lot of things," Whitehead said. "There may be locals who want to apply. I would hate to cut our own citizens out."

"Why not take the top two available (from the previous pool of applicants) and then take new applications?" asked Minor, who went on to suggest taking the top two new applicants, adding them to the top two old applicants - if available - to deal with a total of four.

"We don't need to make a decision today," Woods reminded them.

City Recorder Brenda Brewer and Treasurer Donna Park were instructed to find the paperwork from the previous applicants and call at least the two who finished second and third to Engram, Charles Beal and George Hayfield.

"Salary is one of the first things they ask," Brewer said, and councilmen agreed it should remain in the $60,000 to $80,000 range. One of the previous applicants, Mark Tyner, turned down an invitation to interview because he did not want to take a cut in the $82,500 he was already receiving as a city manager in Alabama.

In conclusion, Woods told councilmen to watch their email closely, because she intended to use it to keep them updated on the results of Brewer's phone calls. The mayor reminded councilmen their emails regarding city business are public record and can be requested by the media.

"It's not a private way to interact," she said.

Another special called meeting or a work session will be scheduled for the council next week, at which they plan to discuss the search for city manager, as well as topics for their regular meeting next month.