Stallings begins town manager search

STALLINGS – The committee appointed to carry Stallings through the selection process for a new town manager kicked off the search last week and hopes to have all resumes ready to review by the end of January 2014.

Previous Stallings town manager Brian Matthews left the position this summer after receiving a job with Union County.  Erinn Nichols, the town clerk, is serving as the interim town manager, and town council voted to delay the search to fill the seat until after the November election.

Although the Stallings council will have the final say on who becomes the new manager – the position that leads town staff and helps make recommendations on projects and policies to town leaders – the four-member committee, headed up by former mayor Lynda Paxton, will review the resumes, hold the first round of interviews and recommend about six candidates for the position. Council will conduct the last round of interviews before offering the job to any candidate.

“The personal qualities of (the)  town manager I’m looking for is a person of integrity willing to serve our citizens,” Mayor Wyatt Dunn said to Union County Weekly in September. Dunn was a councilmember at the time, running for the mayor’s seat. “If he/she has these personal characteristics, then I’m looking for a person with planning experience blended with business background. Knowledge of all state and local statutes covering municipalities should be required.”

The committee met on Friday, Dec. 20, to discuss the desired educational levels, experience, skills and more for town manager candidates. The group hopes to have an advertisement for the job posted by the end of the year to begin soliciting applications.

Although the town would love to hire someone with ample experience as a town manager or someone with a background in the field, Stallings leaders are not limiting the search to just those with direct experience. However, the committee will look only at candidates with strategic planning and budget experience, as well as a general knowledge of engineering and planning that will be useful when working on future town projects.

“I don’t think they need to be an expert in it, but they should be conversant in the topics,” Councilman Regis Griffin, who also is on the committee, said.

The town manager will be the leader and manager of the town staff and will work on projects such as the annual budget, working with developers and managing the finances of the town, so the committee wants to make sure all of the candidates they pass along to the board can adequately fulfill all of those roles.

With a staff of only 13, the town also contracts a lot of work, which saves the town money in the long run, Paxton said. So communication with the council and contractors also will be a large portion of the job requirements.

But above all, the new manager will have to be prepared to work in a different kind of environment, one that includes having multiple people to report to in the mayor and six council members.

“Being in this position is unique; you essentially have seven bosses,” Griffin said, “… so I think somehow we have to set that expectation and have them show they can work in that environment.”

The search committee would like to have a town manager in place in time to work on the next year’s fiscal budget, though Paxton said that is likely a little unrealistic. The committee hopes to have the first round of interviews under way in late February, although no dates have been set in stone. The committee is still waiting on some feedback from council before forming first-round interview questions for the candidates.

The next meeting for the town manager hiring committee will take place Jan. 7, a Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall, 315 Stallings Road. The meeting is open to the public.


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