Carolina Beach Interviewing Town Manager Applicants

The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce held a 2019 Vision and Views Political Forum on September 30th at the Marriott Hotel for candidates seeking election in Carolina Beach for Mayor and Council on November 5th.  Candidates answered a wide range of questions about utility rates, taxes, beach nourishment, fiscal planning and many others. Candidates also voiced their opinions on whether or not to hire a new Town Manager prior to Elections. The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce held a 2019 Vision and Views Political Forum on September 30th at the Marriott Hotel for candidates seeking election in Carolina Beach for Mayor and Council on November 5th. Candidates answered a wide range of questions about utility rates, taxes, beach nourishment, fiscal planning and many others. Candidates also voiced their opinions on whether or not to hire a new Town Manager prior to Elections.

Carolina Beach Interviewing Town Manager Applicants Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 02 October 2019 18:49

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council will begin interviewing applicants to fill the position of Town Manager during a special meeting to be held Thursday October 3rd, at Town Hall. The Council will go into closed session during that meeting and begin interviews.

Additional meetings are set for Friday October 4th, and Tuesday October 8th.

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.

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."

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.

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."

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. "

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

During a political forum hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce at the Courtyard By Marriott Hotel in Carolina Beach on Monday September 30th, candidates were were asked whether or not they felt the current Council should interview and hire a new Town Manager prior to elected officials being sworn in at the Council's December meeting.

Council candidate Lynn Barbee said, "It's about accountability. And we've been through some Town Managers. I personally, if I'm elected, want to be held accountable for the next hire. If that person were to be hired now and let's say potentially we get three new Council members, there's an out right? We could say hey, we didn't hire them, they stink, we want to get rid of them. It only takes three votes. They are gone. That is not good for the Town. We all need stability. However we get there... I want to make sure the new Council has skin in the game. So it's not about I think I can do it better than the current Council, it's that I do not want to see this turn-over again."

Council candidate Debi DeNatale said she agreed with Barbee and explained, "We waited this long without a Town Manager and... building permits are getting done and projects are getting finished" and, "It takes three votes and that since we've had such turn lately with the Town Manager  it might be a really good idea to let the new Council play a role in that decision making."

Council candidate Jay Healey explained, "Personally I wish they would hold off until January" and, "I think it's imperative that we get the right person in place in this position. It's very, very important. I don't know how many people attended the budget meeting. It was embarrassing to see what looks like without a Town Manager."

He explained, "If we do hire a new Town Manager, the new Council should be involved in that process."

Incumbent Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "Carolina Beach has always had a history of Council choosing a manager. And we have had three managers in the past thirteen and a half years. And as Lynn pointed out, that it only takes three to make a change. So they would like some input if they are elected otherwise they don't want to be burdened with some selection which they could potentially make a change whether the manager is good or not. So it is a political position. The Manager serves at the will of Council" and, "My suggestion has been that the business of government doesn't stop because we are in the middle of an election. We should continue to move forward including having some interviews. I do not believe we will have a satisfactory candidate selected, negotiated and hired before" elections.

Candidate for Mayor, Tom Elicson, explained, "I think the business of the Town needs to move forward. I think that that ship has already sailed right? They are already interviewing candidates and if they find a good one, they will hire that candidate."

He explained, "Have we learned from those mistakes and are we making any changes. I know the interim Town Manager recommended that we hire a (Human Resources) consultant to help with the search. As members of Council are dedicated, none of them are HR experts. So there was a suggestion to hire a consultant. That suggestion was turned down. My concern is that we are going down the same path and doing exact same things we've always done. We are at risk of making the same mistake. The hiring process can go forward but I do have concerns about the way it's been carried out."

Current Council member Leann Pierce is running for Mayor. She explained, "I don't believe just because it's an election year that the business of government should stop. That happens in a lot of levels of government. We can't stop our job joust because it's an election. So we are doing interviews. We have them coming up next week."

Pierce said the Town had reached out to a former interim Town Manager to help with the interview process. She said that individual also previously served as County Manager and Finance Director for New Hanover County.

She explained, "I do think we should go ahead and do our interviews but I'm not in favor of hiring anybody before the new Council comes on. I'll go ahead and make that stance. I'm only one of five Council members but I think we should wait until after November."

Candidate for Mayor T. D. Scaringi explained, "The interview process should go forward. We should have an outside firm help us find candidates that we can interview. The Town Manager is a very important job. He makes the agenda for our Town Council meetings. We need a person that is strong, has experience, and it's important that we find it through an agency and that every newly elected official has an input in hiring the Town Manager."

Candidate for Mayor Dorrene Stanley explained, "I'm a firm believer that you can't rush perfection. With that said, I agree wholeheartedly with Leann. Government doesn't stop just because it's an election year."

She explained, "Ed [Parvin] is over loaded. He's got a lot of things that he hasn't taken care of because we are missing a Town Manager. I think we need a hiring task force which is comprised of our government officials, residents, business owners and we need to give the guy r lady a task" and, "It is a difficult job, because it is a $26 million dollar budget but we don't need to stop."

Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin explained Tuesday October 1st, that he had not yet negotiated a contract with Bruce Shell, and ultimately there would likely not be a contract, but rather, an hourly rate of around $100 per hour to participate in the interviewing process as needed and determined by the Council.
Parvin said when Shell helped the Town complete their budget earlier this year at an hourly rate that was invoiced to the Town after adoption of the budget.

Candidates answered a wide range of questions about utility rates, taxes, beach nourishment, fiscal planning and many others. To view the event visit https://www.facebook.com/PleasureIslandChamber/

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