Town Council Discusses Hiring Interim Town Manager

Town Council Discusses Hiring Interim Town Manager

Town Council Discusses Hiring Interim Town Manager Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 26 June 2019 15:36

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CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council is searching for a new Town Manager. During the search, the Council has designated Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin to serve as Interim Town Manager.

During the Council's June 25th, meeting, Parvin  requested Council hire an Interim Manager to help with daily operations until the Town completes their search and hires a new full time Manager.

The Carolina Beach Town Council held a public hearing at their June 11th, meeting to hear public input on the proposed 2019-2020 budget that must be adopted prior to July 1st as required by State Law.

Ultimately, the Council voted four to one to terminate the employment contract for Town Manager Lucky Narain.

Narain was out of Town on vacation and the Council were concerned they were not looking at his most recent budget proposal.

That concern led to some on Council questioning the entire budget planning process and the performance of the Town Manager who was hired in February of this year as a replacement for former Town Manager Michael Cramer. The Council previously had issues with the budget planning process carried out by Cramer.

At one point, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth recommended hiring someone else to work on the budget in the interest of meeting the needs of the Town and the desires of the majority of the Council.

Shuttleworth did not name who that individual would be, but said it was someone who had worked on the Town's budget in the past.

The Council expressed concerns on numerous issues including pay increases for cost of living as well as merit pay increases based on employee performance. Other issues of concern were a proposed property tax rate increase in terms of how much money would be returned to the Town's reserve fund (Similar to a savings fund for unexpected expenses or funding the Town following a natural disaster such as a hurricanes in order to continue paying employees and covering expenses when revenue is impacted).

Narain began working for the Town on February 25th, 2019. Prior to that he served as  Senior Manager for the City of Hayward, CA.

Following the June 11th, meeting, the Town contracted with former Finance Director and County Manager for New Hanover County, Bruce Shell, who retired from the County some years ago.

Shell previously served as Interim Town Manager for Carolina Beach and was hired as a consultant to work on the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

During the June 25th, meeting Parvin explained, "It has been a pleasure to serve as Assistant Manager and now Interim Manager again. But it is, as Assistant Manager, a little inundating with the interface I have and it takes a lot of time, nights and weekends,  in both roles as Assistant Manager and Manager, I'm inundated day and night and I'm struggling to find time to create work product, put staff in the direction I need to put them to make them successful, to make you successful. So my request is to look at a little breathing room and the option for having somebody come in."

He explained, "I know there's some hesitation to hire somebody full time right now with the Election. But having someone just to come in and help in the interim."

Councilman Jodan Garza said he has a concern with the cost. He explained, "Now we are going to pay off the other side of Lucky's contract as well as what this cost would be for the short time that we would hire this person."

Narain's contract included six months of pay upon termination.

Garza urged Parvin to utilize staff to help balance the workload.

He explained, "Grab them together and see if before we determine we need to hire somebody if they can give you a solid hand and help out until we hire a new Town Manager. I know  that next month you will be gone for a week... and I think that's a good time frame so say hey, is it feasible to have them handle the Town without you for an entire week. If they are willing to step up and there's things we can do to help with their staff to help them out, I'm one hundred percent for that."

He explained, "However if the Town Council as a whole thinks we need to bring somebody in, them I'm definitely capable of hearing that option, but I would love to see you work with the staff you have because eventually you are going to be a Town Manager here or somewhere because you do a damn good job."

Garza said, "The thing you should be looking at going forward as a leader is who is going to take your place? You have three amazing guys that you could be grooming right now that can continue that. They are almost there, but I think that if you start utilizing their specialties and teaching them the leadership that you've been showing to us, that once your either stay with us as Town Manager or move on, you have three guys that could easily slide into that position."

Council member Leann Pierce said she's confident in the abilities of Department Heads to handle their departments and work as a team. She added, "If you feel like it's something we need to move forward with, I can move forward with looking at interims, new applicants, whatever you guys want to do. I hate to say this but I really don't think we should let an Election stop us from doing our job."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "Ed, I got your email and anytime a staff person says, hey, guys, I need to take care of myself, take care of my family. I take that extremely seriously especially with the time you've put in Ed. So overburdening you I think on a human personal level is of great concern to me. I don't disagree that you have department heads that can really step up and maybe we look at a little restructuring and delegate a little more of that responsibility. I share Jodan's concern about the budget but not to the point that I would preclude us hiring an Interim because I don't think those cost are anywhere near what a full time manager [would cost]... the Council of Governments can provide us someone that can maybe alleviate some of that." He added, "I keep holding out you might be persuaded but I also understand why it doesn't fit into your life plan right now."

Shuttleworth said, "Some people on Council have shared that if we wait until after the Election, which I can appreciate, then we'd be hiring someone in November or December or January or February and then we are right back to a budget problem we had this year. Which when you bring someone in to learn the personnel and learn how to put a budget together starting in February, as we know, we have a Council Retreat in January and then the budget process starts in January and February and by March it's seventy percent massaged. I get a little concerned if we don't. I do hear from the public that, hey, there's an Election this year, there are three seats up, there might be three new people, it's not your job to pick what the future gets if we are getting new people. I don't want to shirk the responsibility but I don't want to jump the gun. I'm all over the board on this one."

He said, "I think Jodan came up with a pretty good idea which is, get these other four or five people to step up and take more. If that's not enough, let's call Bruce [Shell] and ask him if he'll sit in for a while."

Garza said, "I also feel we should start to push as quickly as possible for a new Town Manager. The whole wait until after the Election thing, I can get that to a degree, but if everything had worked out with Lucky, he would have been in that position for eight months when new people rolled in and who knows what that difference would have been. It's almost a 100 day process to get a Town Manager in here. If we wait until Town Council's first month [after Election] in January, we are looking close to May which is more than half way into that budget process. It's just not fair to our staff. I recommend we start looking right now, the process of looking for applicants."

Shuttleworth requested that Parvin seek guidance from the Cape Fear Council of Governments on hiring an Interim Manager on a part time for full time basis and bring that information back to Council.


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