Transitions: Marshall County, AL; Sheboygan, MI; Kinston, NC and more

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): Marshall County Administrator Nancy R. Wilson announced her impending retirement in a joint press release with the Marshall County Commission. And she intends to enjoy it. Wilson, an Albertville resident, is retiring Nov. 1 and will remain on administrative leave till the effective date. Attorneys for Wilson and the Commission had been working on a settlement to avoid litigation after Chairman James Hutcheson placed Wilson on administrative leave with pay and without explanation Sept. 1. Officials did not release details of the settlement or explain the reason for Wilson’s sudden and surprising departure. Commissioners plan to fill the position and requested an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General to determine the proper procedure for hiring a new county administrator. Commissioners are asking the AG for clarification on what legislative act they should use to hire the new administrator. Wilson served as county administrator for four years after being hired during former Chairman Douglas D. Fleming’s administration. She previously worked for the Dallas County Commission for seven years, for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for eight years and for the Alabama State Department of Education for nine years. Wilson plans to stay in Albertville for now and enjoy the time with her daughter. Read more at the Sand Mountain Reporter.

Sheboygan, Michigan (population 46,845): The Sheboygan Common Council, with the help of two tie-breaking votes by Mayor Bob Ryan, Monday night voted to create a city administrator’s position, effectively stripping Ryan of many of his duties, while rejecting the recommendations of one of its committees. Finance Director Jim Amodeo will be promoted to city administrator and current Deputy Finance Director Nancy Buss will be named city treasurer, effective next Monday. Last week, the city’s Salaries and Grievances Committee, in a pair of 3-to-1 votes, voted to promote Amodeo to interim administrator and that the positions of finance director and deputy finance director remain in the city’s table of organization, even though they wouldn’t be filled. But Monday night, two votes — one to remove the term “interim” and one that calls for Amodeo to fill the position through the length of his contract, which runs through August 2015 — ended in a 7-7 tie. Ryan voted yes for the amendments so that they each passed 8-7.

Ald. David Van Akkeren and Darryl Carlson argued that making the job interim and leaving the finance director in the table of organization would eventually create added expense cause instability in city government. Bohren and Versey argued that making it an interim position would allow the city to search for a better qualified administrator than Amodeo, who has no experience in public administration, and that removing him from office would be more difficult if he’s allowed to serve out his contract as city administrator.

Ald. Don Hammond said Amodeo has done a good job for the city and was part of a nationwide search that drew 30 applicants for the finance director position. Versey said, “We did a search for a finance director, not a city administrator.”

Under the plan passed Monday night, all department heads, including the fire and police chiefs, would report to the administrator on budgetary and other administrative issues, essentially stripping Ryan and future mayors of overseeing most of the city’s day-to-day operations. The administrator would report only to the Common Council president. The top three Common Council officers — president, vice president and Committee of the Whole chairman — but not the mayor, would evaluate the administrator.

The idea of a city administrator has been discussed for years, but the latest push came from the recent controversy concerning Ryan’s drinking binge in Elkhart Lake at the end of July and his subsequent refusal to resign or take a leave of absence to seek treatment. There also is support among some aldermen to make the mayor’s job part-time at a lower salary. Those changes could not occur until the start of the next mayoral term in April 2013. Some aldermen have said they support a public referendum on changing the mayor’s job description. Such a referendum would have to be put on February’s ballot to be in effect when the next term starts, City Attorney Steve McLean has said. Read more at the Sheboygan Press.

Kinston, North Carolina (population 20,048): Although many in the community wanted Kinston officials to look close to home when selecting a new city manager, local leaders looked to a small city more than 150 miles to the west to find their man. Tony Sears, 34, who is currently serving as Randleman’s city manager, was tapped as Kinston’s newest city manager Monday. The members of the City Council, after having met with Sears several times, voted unanimously to approve his contract. Sears is scheduled to start work Nov. 2. Before coming to Kinston, Sears spent nearly seven years as city manager of the town of Randleman. The town of about 3,600 people is nestled in Randolph County, part of the greater Greensboro area. Sears is married with two sons, ages 9 and 7. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a concentration in town, city and county government. He also minored in community planning and history. Sears earned his Master’s of Public Administration from ASU in 2002. In addition to serving as Randleman’s city manager, Sears interned with the town of Troy in 2000 and Apex in 2001. He was town manager for Kenly in 2002 and 2003. Sears will take over the reins from Interim City Manager Bill Ellis, who has been at City Hall since July 1. Ellis will return to his post as director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Department of Parks and Recreation. Ellis stepped in as interim manager after former City Manager Scott Stevens announced this past spring that he would serve as Goldsboro’s city manager. Stevens had spent four years as city manager and had worked for the City of Kinston since the late 1990s. Read more at ENCToday.

Hyattsville, Maryland (population 15,570): After less than one year of service, Hyattsville City Administrator Gregory Rose has resigned, effective Oct. 7. After a three-hour closed session discussion, the City Council voted 7-4 to accept Rose’s resignation letter, which was dated Oct. 1. He will be paid until Jan. 18, the end of his contract, but his last day of work will be this Friday. Rose offered the council two options in his letter—either leave his post now or stay on board until his contract end date. The council, despite protest from several of its members, decided on option one. No reason was given for Rose’s departure, but over the past couple months the council has, during public meetings, repeatedly criticized Rose’s work. At Monday’s meeting, several council members, including Mayor Marc Tartaro, told Rose they were concerned about his lack of progress on hiring a human resources manager for the city. Rose said he was unclear on the council’s wishes, adding that it did not provide him clear direction. It is not yet clear who will serve as acting city administrator. Vincent Jones, former assistant city administrator, resigned his post last summer. In times past, Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland has served as acting administrator while former administrator Elaine Murphy was on leave. Read more at the Hyattsville Patch.

Dickson, Tennessee (population 13,499): Through tear-filled eyes, city of Dickson mayor Don Weiss read a letter of resignation from City Administrator Tom Waychoff at Monday’s monthly city council meeting. Waychoff has been city administrator for 10 years and is fighting cancer. Weiss said he recieved the letter on Sept. 23. Waychoff’s last official day on the job is Friday.

Crookston, Minnesota (population 7,737): Two things are known for certain regarding the future of the City of Crookston administrator position: One, Aaron Parrish’s last day on the job is Nov. 11 and he’ll start his new administrator job in Forest Lake on Nov. 14. Second, City Clerk/Treasurer Betty Arvidson has been recommended to serve as interim administrator, a capacity she served in after Ray Ecklund retired and before Parrish was hired. Arvidson was a finalist for the permanent job when Parrish was hired in 2004, but has indicated she will not be a candidate this time around. But after that, city officials have to decide how they’re going to go about finding a successor to Parrish. The Administrative Committee this evening will likely decide whether or not the city should handle the recruitment of candidates on its own, or retain an outside firm to handle the process on the council’s behalf, which would involve announcing the position, researching the salary range, advertising, reviewing applications, selecting finalists, developing interview questions, facilitating the interview process, checking references and negotiating a contract. In a memo to the committee, Parrish states that the city has solicited proposals from two firms that have coordinated many administrator searches in cities across Minnesota. The committee will go over the proposals tonight. In addition, the committee is expected to formally designate Arvidson as interim city administrator. She is expected to receive a 15 percent bump in pay as interim administrator. Read more at the Crookston Times.

Camden, Maine (population 3,651): Outgoing Town Manager Roberta Smith has been showing the ropes to her replacement, Patricia Finnigan, this week. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the pair met with Camden’s municipal department managers in the Tucker Room of the Camden Opera House. Both were expected to be present at a Select Board meeting that evening, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room, and broadcast on Channel 22. Read more at the Herald Gazette.

East Spencer, North Carolina (population 1,369): The town of East Spencer hired a new administrator Monday, ending a search that took more than a year. After meeting in closed session, the Town Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the contract for Macon Sammons Jr., a former manager of Surry County. On Sept. 13, after the board interviewed Sammons for a second time, Mayor John Cowan said he is “highly qualified” for the position. Cowan said Sammons has been the manager of two counties in Virginia as well as Surry County, and he has more than 20 years of municipal management experience. Former Town Manager Donnie Jones left due to medical reasons in the spring of 2010. While East Spencer looked for someone to fill the position, town Clerk Anneissa Hyde served as interim town administrator. Read more at the Salisbury Post.

Technology: Local governments use high-tech tools to cut costs and connect with residents

San Mateo County, California (population 718,451): After grabbing $50 million from a reserve fund this summer to balance San Mateo County’s budget, the Board of Supervisors today is to vote on an adjusted budget that includes about $400,000 to transform its meeting chambers into a high-tech haven. The upgrade includes eight HP Slate tablets with docking stations for the five supervisors and three officials who also sit on the dais during board meetings — County Manager David Boesch, Assistant County Manager David Holland and County Counsel John Beiers. But they won’t be the only ones to benefit from the upgrade. So will anyone who attends board meetings or watches them on local Peninsula TV cable broadcast or the Internet because the board chambers’ video and audio capability will be improved, said county spokesman Marshall Wilson.

Flat-panel LCD video screens will be purchased and connected to the computer system to provide a much more readable image than that currently shown by an overhead projector, Wilson said. The television on a table near the board dais used for viewing slide shows and other images will be removed because five flat-panel monitors will be placed in front of each supervisor. More than a quarter of the $400,000 price tag will be financed from the reserve account.

San Mateo County is not the first Peninsula municipality to switch to the trendy tablet: Mountain View and Redwood City both purchased Apple iPads for their council members, saying the move is both environmentally friendly and ultimately cheaper than printing and distributing paper documents. San Mateo County is getting its tablets from HP because its current technology infrastructure is set up for PCs and not for Apple products. The HP Slate also comes with additional security options to encrypt and protect data from being hacked, he said. The tablets with docking stations cost about $1,000 apiece, he said. Read more at the Mercury News.

Ferndale, Michigan (population 18,911): The Ferndale City Council held a special meeting Monday night to have an informal discussion on upgrading the city’s website. Common points of improvement included making the website user friendly, keeping information up-to-date, providing resident services on the site such as paying bills, establishing a brand for the city of Ferndale, as well as creating social media pages and policies. Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said he wants to see the website as a one-stop shop for Ferndale business.

A big component of improving the site was also a discussion on communication between the city and its residents, such as that during the multi power outage in July that left thousands of Ferndale residents without power. During the outage, which occurred in the midst of the hottest period of time in southeast Michigan in 15 years, the city relied mostly on the media and city officials personal Facebook pages to get the information out about what was happening. Coulter sent out robocalls telling residents the Gerry Kulick Community Center would open as an all-night cooling center for those looking to cool off during the nearly 100-degree weather. But it didn’t go to every resident. Coulter had an idea of adding a database that residents could sign up for to receive alerts either via text or phone, similar to the robocalls but reaching more residents. There was also discussion about utilizing social media for instances like this as well. Read more at the Ferndale Patch.