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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Council Votes In Hiring Freeze After Third Council Vote

Carolina Beach Council Votes In Hiring Freeze After Third Council Vote

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted for a third time at their April 10, meeting on the issue of implementing a hiring freeze until they can look at their finances in more detail prior to adopting a budget in June.
The Council voted three to two to implement a hiring freeze after two subsequent votes. The first on March 13, calling for a hiring freeze and another on March 30, lifting the freeze. At the Carolina Beach Town Council's March 13, meeting Councilman Steve Shuttleworth made a motion to implement a hiring freeze on all positions except the position of Fire Chief.
Shuttleworth said, "I'm asking him not to hire a chief of police" and freeze other vacant positions to allow discussion of the positions and funding during the budget planning process.
The Council voted three to two in favor of Shuttleworth's motion on the hiring freeze. Council members Shuttleworth, Friede and Lewis voted in favor. Mayor Rothrock and Councilman Lashley voted no.
The Council held a continued meeting on March 30. During that meeting  Councilman Bob Lewis had to leave early. After Bob left the meeting, the Council continued discussing budget items at length. Later in the meting Mayor Ray Rothrock called for a vote. He stated, "I make a motion that we give the manager the authority to hire the chief of police and others as he sees fit for the Town of Carolina Beach. The reason I say that is because of what you just said, the importance of the Chief's position and you as the manager, you know what the Town needs as far as part time employees and water and sewer."
Council member Sarah Friede said, "We just adopted a hiring freeze..."
Councilman Shuttleworth explained, "I can't support that Ray until we get through the budget process. That was the whole conversation we had before."
Friede said, "I'd like to wait just another couple of months."
Councilman Lonnie Lashley said, "I want to go forward with the police chief. You interviewed three... did one fall out that you would want to hire."
Rothrock called for the vote. He and Lashley voted in favor. 
Friede and Shuttleworth voted no. Rothrock said, "It carries three to two. Bob is gone. He didn't ask to be excused" and his vote would then count as an affirmative vote in favor of the motion.
Shuttleworth said, "Please put it on the agenda to bring up at the next council meeting. Because I think that was a pretty low shot there Ray and I think that was strategic and you did that on purpose when Bob left in order for it to be a two to two vote."
Rothrock told the Town Manager, "You can hire the chief of police and anybody else you see fit."
On Tuesday April 3, Councilman Lewis commented that, "It's Ray's deal. It's a power play for Ray. He thinks he was voted King but obviously doesn't understand our form of government."
Lewis said the decision making process is, "In the whole of the Town Council, we are each one vote. The item will certainly be on the agenda for our next meeting" and said, "Everyone is losing respect for Ray."
Lewis said the original motion at the March 13, meeting was to allow time to research and understand the overall budget and work towards a budget that may prevent a tax increase.
At the March 13, meeting the original question on the hiring freeze which resulted in a 3 to 2 vote centered on finding out where the Town stood financially before filling vacant positions in the Operations Department and the Police Chief's position. They hired a new Fire Chief because the interim chief was also a volunteer fireman.
Shuttleworth said, "I'm asking Tim not to hire a chief of police" and freeze other vacant positions to allow discussion of the positions and funding during budget planning."
Mayor Ray Rothrock explained, "If you would not include the chief of police in there I might support it".
Councilman Lonnie Lashley said, "We've been without a police chief since December, or earlier. Now you want to go four more months. I can't see a department going six months with an acting chief. They need to put someone in there to lead that. They can address the vacancies."
At the Council's April 10, meeting Shuttleworth explained why he asked the item be put back on the agenda.
Rothrock said the Town Manager has expressed why there's a need to hire a police chief and, "Also discussed more than once the need to hire some people in public works and some part-time for parks and rec. I don't think we need to put a freeze on what the manager needs to do to get the people in the places to do their jobs."
Town Manager Tim Owens said the Town is "back-filling" vacant positions with temporary employees. Council agreed to permit that to continue.
Councilman Lonnie Lashley said, "I still believe we need to compromise with this. We're not going to, I can see that. When it initially came up the Mayor asked for a compromise, he said let's go with the hiring freeze and go on and hire a police chief. I agree with that."
Councilman Bob Lewis said he's open to a compromise, "But the idea here is, we're talking about the raw budget. What the costs are. We still haven't made those firm. I don't want to release anyone, I don't want to lay anyone off. I don't want to
take jobs out if the budget doesn't come to that point." He said, "This way we're not hiring somebody that may not have a job when the budget is approved" in June.
Mayor Rothrock said the Town hasn't had a salaried police chief since December and if the manager had permission to hire a chief that day, "Hopefully that person would take the job and that they would be here working for the Town in probably May, June, July. We're talking about a new budget. I just don't see the savings of the dollars that has been indicated by doing this that we are saving. I just don't see it. It's already there in the budget through June 30, and we'll have a new budget for July 1. I just don't understand it."
Shuttleworth said if the Town hires now and the budget adopted in June is contrary to those positions, "And we elected not meet a budget Owen's has proposed to us" he doesn't want to put Owens in a position to have to terminate someone.
He said until they complete the budget for 2012-2013, "I just don't see what the rush is."
Council member Sarah Friede said, "We may go through the budget and say everyone will need to take a certain pay cut. I do think it will be the best scenario to hire somebody and say you can start on June 1st and then on July 1st you have to take a pay cut."
She said, "We are looking a significant shortfall unless we go up to a 26 cents rate" from the current 17.5 per $100 of property value, "I don't know that I want to automatically do that. I would like to make cuts where we can. I don't want to cut staff and I don't want to cut salaries and I'd like to find other places that we can make the cuts. But I think
when we are looking at the significant shortfall that we are looking at, unless we adopt that huge jump, I think we need to keep all of our options on the table. And hiring people now at certain salaries to a certain extent ties our hands. It's not a lot of positions, but it does tie our hands on at least a few positions."
The Council voted three to two in favor of the hiring freeze.
Council members Shuttleworth, Friede and Lewis voted in favor. Mayor Rothrock and Councilman Lashley voted no.