Island Gazette

Kure Beach Council Hears Report On Transition To Hiring Town Administrator

By Willard H. Killough III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - Earlier this year the Kure Beach Town Council agreed to appoint several citizens to explore the possibility of hiring a Town Administrator or Town Manager.
Councilman Mac Montgomery explained, “The complexity of running municipal government is increasing every day. And the size of the Town by a rough estimate has grown to 2,000 residents and our budget is rising and we are looking at a tax revaluation this year.”
Montgomery explained the cost of services provided by the town is rising and that other budget items “are going up like the $1.2 million dollar sewer issue, the million dollar water tower issue” as well as dealing with complex zoning issues.”
Montgomery explained he had conversations with the Cape Fear Council of Governments and the NC League of Municipalities as well as Council members and that while he was not requesting the Town hire someone immediately, “I think it is time for the Council to formally explore the process of using a professional manager to assist the mayor and council in governing the Town.”
The Council received a report at their April 17, regular meeting from local residents Jim Vatrt and Mo Linquist about their research.
Linquist explained, “Ten years ago Kure Beach had a population of 600 registered voters and was run efficiently with a staff managed by department heads and directed by a Mayor and Town Council. That form of government... could do it all, be it all, and keep it close to the best. However, as the population increased, so did the complexity and amount of town needs. Applying for our share of federal and state grants, modernizing administrative and accounting functions and handling day to day governmental affairs has left little time for the Council to plan and prepare for our Town’s future development.”
Linquist said, “Apart from the Town’s administrative and planning needs, Council has the task of maintaining the continuity of six talented department heads. They and their staff are the greatest asset that this Town possess and it is the responsibility of the Town Council to insure that Kure Beach” has a plan in place for all of the Town government and services.
Linquist explained, “It has become apparent for the Town Council to include in the 2008 budget the addition of a professional town administrator. This level of office is now included in 99% of all state counties and has been in use in North Carolina since 1913.”
She explained, “A Town administrator, while reporting to the Council, will perform as an operating officer of a company allowing Council to perform as a board of directors. We propose there is a need for a professional town administrator and not only manage the day-to-day affairs of government, but also keep up with changes” in North Carolina laws.
Linquist explained, “The current population in Kure Beach is nearly 2,000 voters and citizen expectations are more complex than ever before. The need for long range town planning and development, both in the public and private sectors, support the decision to include a professional administrator in January 2008. We propose that in the long run a professional administrator will save the Town money.”
She explained, “Even though this is a male dominated field, our recommendation is... an individual who is confident, one who excels in communication, knows the current laws and statutes, educated in town planning, a people person, and is able to work with integrity in a fish bowl, unbiased, factual and well researched. An administrator who will support and execute Council’s decisions and be a support and mentor to all department heads.”
Linquist explained, “Our proposal includes the immediate review by Town Council to confirm the financial affordability of a Town Administrator. Estimated annual 12-month salary and benefits package is $75,000.00. The immediate formation of a committee to research and propose, by May 30, a written job description and salary budget for this position as well as edit job descriptions for Town Council and department heads.”
Councilman Mac Montgomery explained following the April 17 meeting the Council will appoint a committee made up of one citizen, a department head, an employee, Linquist and Vatrt and one Council member during their May15, regular meeting.
Montgomery explained Council decided to continue with the process by appointing the committee to draw up a budget proposal, job description, and any adjustments to current job descriptions for Town department heads.
Montgomery explained, “The first step is to create a budget proposal for a half year salary starting in January 2008 and get that in the ongoing budget process. If we don’t put it in there now, we can’t add it later.”
Montgomery explained the second step would be the efforts of the committee.
He explained the Council favors the option of a Town Administrator over a “Town Manager” because hiring a manager requires an official change of the form of government as allowed under State General Statutes.
Montgomery explained that hiring a Town Manager and making that official change would require the Town to commit to that change for two years and the option of hiring a Town Administrator leaves the door open for the Town to decide if the move is productive without that two year legal commitment.
There are two forms of municipal government in North Carolina. The mayor-council form of government and the Council-Manager form. Under the Council-Manager form, the manager is appointed by the Town Council and serves at their pleasure as a manager of day-to-day operations as well as policy and personnel matters and serves to advise the Council on matters that come before them.
The Town Administrator option brings the same professional abilities but without the official change in form of government mandated by state law.
Montgomery explained the Council “Doesn’t want to rush into this. We wanted everyone to be involved. Employees, Department Heads, Council and Citizens. It’s such a major change. We want to be methodical about research and budgeting before making such a change.”
The budget process for the 2007/2008 fiscal year is ongoing. The Council will hold additional meetings and workshops between now and June to analyze budget proposals. A balanced budget is required for adoption by June 30.



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