Carolina Beach Council Discusses Search For New Town Manager

Carolina Beach Council Discusses Search For New Town Manager

Carolina Beach Council Discusses Search For New Town Manager Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 24 July 2019 03:59

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

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.

The Council discussed the search during their July 23rd, workshop meeting.

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 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 July 23rd, workshop Parvin explained, "At out July regular schedule meeting you requested staff move forward with advertising for the Town Manager position and Interim Town Manager position but you also requested for us to search for a consultant that could manage that. We did reach out to the Mercer Group."
He explained the consultant would search for an Interim Manager and said it would be April of 2020 to have a new full time manager hired.

Under the proposed contract, the consultant would meet with the Council in the fall of 2019, create a brochure for potential applicants, conduct phone interviews with applicants in January and February followed by an application deadline in February. Council would then hold a meeting in mid-February to consider candidates for the position followed by Council interviews and then eventually consider appointing a new manager in March.

Parvin said, "That's probably a longer time frame than you want to see, but it could be expedited."

Council member Leanne Pierce asked if staff had reached out to the Cape Fear Council of Governments who often recommends people to serve as interim managers for municipalities.

Parvin said he did contact the Council of Governments, but they do not have the resources to provide a service to field  applicants for the position of Town Manager outside of recommending Interim managers.

He explained, "If you would like for us to move forward without the consultant we can move forward."

Pierce said, "I thought at the last Council meeting we directed for an ad to be put out."

Parvin said, "My understanding was you wanted us to move forward but you wanted us to look at the Cape Fear Council of Governments or a consultant head-hunter so we went forward as fast as we could to find somebody to help us with the process. If you want us to do it internally, we can certainly can do that."
Parvin said the cost for the consultant would be a maximum of $22,500. He said that price could be negotiated or the Town could conduct the search internally.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "I thought we had asked staff to start working towards an interim to help Ed on a couple of different options. One was an individual and one was to see about allocating responsibilities to existing department heads to alleviate some of the work load from the interim Town Manager. Two, I thought we had asked you and [Town Attorney Noel Fox] to review the previous postings that we had and come back with some kind of general posting ideas so that we could start towards a posting. I thought the general consensus was we really didn't want to wait. It's hard for me because I hear what you are saying, April might be a realistic time frame for a professional company to go in and help us. That puts us really late into the budget season."

He explained, "I'm pretty confident that Council and our Human Resources Manager can negotiate, with the help of our attorney, a  benefit package and a proposal to a candidate if we should select one."

He explained, "I think it would be good sooner rather than later to get some kind of posting out there that's open to see if we are missing a possible candidate that's out there right now that might fit the bill."

Councilman Tom Bridges said rather than spending the money to hire a consultant, "I think we can do it by ourselves, but that's just my opinion. Advertise for the Interim and move forward."

Pierce explained, "I'm just having a real problem understanding why it's not understood. I'm probably really direct. Let me say it again. I thought we said it two weeks ago that we want an advertisement for an Interim and or a full time manager. We don't have to hire anybody but at least we are putting it out there that it's available and let's see what we get. I don't want to pay $22,000 for the Mercer Group. Now are there parts of it, yes. I agree with Steve. That maybe there are parts of that that we want. But now we've wasted two more weeks."

The Council decided to direct Town staff to advertise for the position first before making a decision to hire the consultant.

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