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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Council Meets To Discuss Interim Town Manager & Filling Mayor, Council Vacancies

Carolina Beach Council Meets To Discuss Interim Town Manager & Filling Mayor, Council Vacancies

The Carolina Beach Town Council is currently taking applications for a Town Manager, the Mayor and a Council member.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach Mayor Ray Rothrock and Councilman Lonnie Lashley resigned their seats near the end of the Council's November 13, meeting following the resignation of Town Manager Tim Owens.
Now remaining Council members Steve Shuttleworth, Sarah Friede and Bob Lewis are tasked with finding an interim Town Manager and appointing two people to serve in Rothrock and Lashley's seats until the November 2013 election. During a special meeting of the Council on November 20, Mayor pro tempore Steve Shuttleworth explained the Council will hold a meeting every Tuesday from now until those two elected seats are filled.
He said until that time council members can't legally call each other on Town issues because it would constitute a meeting. With five members it took three present for a meeting. With only three remaining, it only takes two and Council can only meet following proper notice or at their regular meeting the second Tuesday of each month.
According to Town Clerk Lynn Prusa, any eligible voter of the Town can be appointed by Council to a vacant seat.
Prusa explained in writing earlier this week that Mayor pro tempore Shuttleworth is acting Mayor until Council appoints someone to the Mayor's seat. A sitting member of the Council can be appointed to that seat but would have to vacate their current seat before taking the oath to serve as Mayor thus leaving another vacancy to be filled.
She explained, "The person appointed to fill the vacant mayor’s seat and the vacant council member’s seat will serve until the next municipal election (November 2013)."
If a sitting member of council is appointed to the vacated mayor's seat, and their original seat has not expired, they could not return after November to finish out the rest of their term in their original council term.
She explained, "A sitting member of council would be relinquishing the current council seat to serve as mayor until the next municipal election (November 2013).  He/she would have to run for public office and be reelected at that time for the mayor’s seat, council member seat or the council member seat with 2 years remaining if Council Member Shuttleworth or Council Member Friede is appointed."
Councilman Bob Lewis' term expires December 2013. Council members Steve Shuttleworth and Sarah Friede's terms expire in December 2015.
The number of seats depends on how the Council proceeds with appointments.
Prusa explained, "Which seats will be available for election in 2013? The mayor seat (2 year term of office), Council Member Bob Lewis’s seat (4 year term of office), Council Member Lashley’s seat (4 year term of office), and possibly there will be a third council member seat with a 2 year term of office if Council Member Shuttleworth or Council Member Friede is appointed by Council to fill the mayor’s vacated seat."
She explained, "Normally every election cycle the mayor’s seat and 2 council members’ seats are available; however, if Council Member Shuttleworth or Council Member Friede is selected for appointment there will be another seat available but for only a 2 year term of office.  The election cycle will return to the normal schedule in 2015." 
Prusa explained there are three scenarios could occur:
• If Steve Shuttleworth or Sarah Friede is appointed to the mayor’s seat he/she will be giving up his current seat on council which will be filled by an eligible voter of the town.  This means that Steve Shuttleworth or Sarah Friede will now be mayor and giving up his/her council member seat.  He/she may run for office in November 2013 along with any other eligible voters of the town for any of the available seats.
• If Council Member Lewis is appointed to the mayor’s seat he will also be giving up his current seat on council which will be filled by an eligible voter of the town during the next municipal election (2013).  Council Member Lewis’s current seat is already scheduled to expire during the next municipal election.
• Council may also appoint any eligible voter of the town to fill the mayor’s seat and the council member’s seat. Appointees will serve until December 10, 2013 at which time the terms expire. They may file in July to run for any of the public office seats available during the municipal election to be held in November 2013 along with any other eligible voter in the town. 
Prusa explained, "Council is asking that all eligible voters of the town seeking appointment to submit to the Carolina Beach Town Council a letter of interest to include your name, address, contact information (such as telephone numbers and e-mail address), and include in the letter your qualifications and experience that you feel would be beneficial to the community. A resume is not necessary. If you have a preference you may want to identify which position you prefer - mayor or council member.  Letters of interest will be accepted until Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:00 noon. Mail letters of interest to: Carolina Beach Human Resources Officer, 1121 N. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach, NC  28428.  Questions call 910-458-9530."
Records relating to applicants or nominees are public records. Since these are not considered to be regular employee positions of the town information such as telephone numbers and addresses are not protected. 
Council will determine a method and selections will be made by majority vote.  It is Council’s intention to fill the vacancies at their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Prusa explained, "All appointments will be made in open session. Council is not permitted to consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, appointment, or removal of a member of the public body or another public body and may not consider or fill a vacancy among its own membership except in open meeting."
At the November 20, meeting Councilman Bob Lewis said they've already started looking for an interim Town Manager. He said, "We did talk with an individual today in private session and no decision has been made at this time."
Currently the Council has selected Planning Director Ed Parvin to serve as interim manager until someone can be hired for the position. It could take months to interview applicants to fill the position long-term.
For appointments to the Mayor and Council seats, Lewis explained he would like the applications submitted for appointment to be copied to each council member and, "Right now there are three or four people already submitting something. If there are 20 or 30, we might want to bring it down to maybe six. Bring those six to a public meeting" and interview those people in public.
Lewis said Council could then make a final decision at their December 11, meeting.
Council member Sarah Friede said, "Either of you guys interested in being mayor?"
She said, "We need to decide whether one of us wants to be mayor and give up the council seat, in which case then we are appointing two council members, or, if we are appointing a mayor and council" seats.
She said, "There is a little difference between what the mayor does and what the rest of council does" and that decision needs to be made in advance and in public.
Lewis and Shuttleworth agreed that should be discussed at the next meeting on November 27.
Local resident and business owner Gerald Bigley said he felt the Council should only appoint people who have not already served as Mayor or Council. He said, "I think we need some new live fresh blood. And we have a lot of people here that would be willing to serve who have a good business sense and knowledge" to avoid the same old business as usual from years past.
The Council agreed to accept the resignation of Town Manager Tim Owens during a late evening closed session held at the end of the Council's November 13, meeting.
When the Council emerged and the announcement was made, Mayor Ray Rothrock and Councilman Lonnie Lashley both resigned their seats on Council citing opposition to the move.
Mayor Rothrock said, "Discussed in closed session was real estate, direction given to the Town Manager and attorney client privilege information and that also was given to the manager. It was discussed, and the Council will accept,
the Town Manager's resignation and the Town Attorney will handle paper work to make sure everything is in proper order."
He said, "The resignation will be in accordance with the Town Manager's current contract." That includes a severance package with pay and benefits for a certain period.
Councilman Lonnie Lashley said, "I would like to say that the resignation by the [manager] was a three to two vote. I would like to have that on record please."
Council member Sarah Friede thanked Owens for his years of service and wished him well.
Mayor Ray Rothrock promptly said, "In view of all that, the final thing I have to say is, I resign. I quit. You folks can have it. I'll take my gavel. My name tag and go home."
Lashley said, "That's two of us. So you have some work ahead of you council. I wish you well. I've enjoyed working with you. All three of you."
Mayor Rothrock motioned to adjourn the meeting and Councilman Bob Lewis asked the Town Attorney to clarify if the Council was required to accept their resignations.
It was determined that Rothrock and Lashley's resignations were verbal in an open meeting and no further action was required.
After the meeting Lewis said, "I think the Town needs new direction" and said fellow Council members Steve Shuttleworth and Sarah Friede were not opposed to the manager's resignation. He said, "It was a mutual decision" with Owens.
Following the meeting Mayor Rothrock explained Carolina Beach is facing some serious issues including future beach nourishment funding, the logistics of an upcoming beach nourishment project later this fall, obtaining funding for
dredging the Carolina Beach Inlet and how to deal with moving the Town's Operations Department to a new location off military land.
Rothrock said his resignation was "effective immediately" and he's not going to change his mind. He said, "There's no need as Mayor to sit there with my hands tied and a Council working against everything. They have all the answers, they can figure it out."
Rothrock said, "I've felt for some time now there is no communication between us. No calls, no personal contacts. There has to be teamwork."
Rothrock said one example of a number of bad decisons was Council voting to rent an 8,000 square foot space at the Federal Point Shopping Center to relocate their Operations Department but at the same time moving the employees into the Police Training Room at Town Hall.
Rothrock said, "Putting all Operations employees in the training room will not work.It's used by a large number of people on a regular basis" including training by law enforcement agencies from around the region and for Town functions.
Owens issued a statement Wednesday November 14, via email. He wrote, "Effective immediately, I have resigned the position of Town Manager for the Town of Carolina Beach.  I have enjoyed working for the Town and I am proud of all of the accomplishments of my co-workers over the past six and a half years. Carolina Beach is fortunate to have a great group of employees that will continue to move the Town forward. I value all of the relationships built over the years and I appreciate all those that have positively supported the Town during my tenure as manager."
On Saturday November 17, Councilman Lonnie Lashley commented on his Facebook page, "I have plans NOT to continue seeking a return to the CB council. It's been my pleasure serving for the
past three years the citizens of Carolina Beach and I would appreciate the citizens of CB give the sitting council your FULL support as I will mine." Lashley previously commented to media that he already missed serving on Council a few days after resigning.
Shuttleworth said, "I was kind of shocked" about the entire situation and, "The mayor got agitated and said some rude things" and that the Mayor was upset, "Every time we have a vote and not the way he wants it" to turn out.