BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Town Council members voted unanimously on Monday afternoon to spend up to $6,500 to enlist the assistance of the Centralina Council of Governments in its search for a new town manager.
CCOG Executive Director Geraldine Gardner presented an offer of services, many of which are free as a result of the town’s membership in the organization. She asked the town to be a “Guinea pig” to pilot a new array of support services to municipalities going through times of leadership transition.
The free standard services included in the proposed “statement of work” are reviewing community surveys and meeting with the selection committee to define the position and create a job description, salary range, and job advertisement by December 19.
The organization will also post the job ad on professional and association websites selected by the town, with the town paying any advertising costs. CCOG will then collect, review, and sort resumes and applications and respond to applicant questions.
CCOG will use the town’s qualification criteria to sort applicants into three categories (exceptionally qualified, qualified, and not qualified) and then send the council a spreadsheet of the category breakdown of all applicants and a resume review of all exceptionally qualified applicants.
After scheduling interviews with the top candidates and creating a list of interview questions, Gardner will sit in on interviews, if the council desires, to facilitate questions. Afterwards, CCOG will facilitate a “consensus discussion” to narrow the pool to three candidates.
At that point in the selection process, CCOG will charge for its services, which include creating a finalist assessment center for $4,000 in which the three finalists are put through a “battery of job-related scenarios designed to simulate the tasks and responsibilities” of the town manager position.
The organization’s conduct management and personality profile for the top trio, at a cost of $1,350, will include putting candidates through a battery of management and personality assessments to look at their “fit” with the town staff and Troutman community.
After these two assessment tasks, CCOG staff will debrief council on the results and help them determine the top candidate for a full background check for an additional $500.
Though the agreement with CCOG runs through June 30, Gardner expressed her belief the process could be finished much more quickly than the nearly seven-month time frame.
Councilwoman Jan Huffman urged council members to vote for the contract, calling the services part of a “worthwhile process” to hire a highly qualified manager.
Councilman Paul Henkel agreed, saying the council could “do it so-so or do it better” while still making the final hiring decision. He noted many of the services were free and said the cost of around $6,000, compared to the cost of losing a manager and the payouts involved there, was “a drop in the bucket.”
Using CCOG to find an excellent candidate who will be in Troutman a long time and who will interact positively with staff, the council, and the community is most important, added Henkel, who thanked Interim Town Manager Jim Freeman for his leadership and assistance in this transition following Justin Longino’s resignation in October.
TOWN MANAGER SURVEY RESULTS
The results of 32 surveys received from community members regarding the traits desired in a town manager were summarized for council members. All respondents desired previous experience as a manager or assistant manager.
A working knowledge of N.C. local government laws, N.C. budget and financial experience, a capital project management and implementation background, a bachelor’s degree in public or business administration, and municipal certification from the N.C. School of Government were also desired.
Preferred management skills included effective written and oral communication abilities as well as effective presentation and media skills. Respondents also valued the ability to listen, form partnerships and relationships, and problem-solve and offer solutions.
Understanding and following the council’s direction and priorities and implementing its policies was also important to those surveyed, as was the ability to organize operational priorities and tasks and to formulate strategic successes.
Community-oriented skills noted by survey participants included being approachable, empathetic, and citizen-friendly, supporting all aspects of community life, and acting in a customer service-oriented manner.
Other preferred skills and traits were professionalism, the courage to inform others about and address unpleasant issues, effective personnel management and motivation, and personal integrity and honesty.
THURSDAY NIGHT AGENDA
During Thursday’s regular meeting, the following items are on the agenda:
♦ Recognition of the service of outgoing council members Judy Jablonski and Jan Huffman.
♦ Administration of oaths for Mayor Teross Young, new council members Eddie Nau and George Harris, and new Chief of Police Tina Fleming.
♦ Election of Mayor Pro Tempore
♦ Holding a public hearing and considering a rezoning request from Suburban Residential (RS) to Conditional Zoning – Mixed Residential of nearly 92 acres for 165 single family homes in the proposed Marley Jane subdivision near the Perry/Hoover Road intersection.
♦ Consider appointment of Ray Welsh to fill the unexpired Planning and Zoning Board term (through September 2022) of Harris as he joins the Town Council and of Lori Eberly to fill Welsh’s unexpired term (through September 2020).
♦ Make appointments of council member delegates to CCOG, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Committee.
♦ Consider approval of the Town of Troutman 2020 Events Calendar, the 2020 Town Council Meeting Schedule, and an amendment of the Troutman Parks and Recreation Committee Rules of Procedure.