- Published on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 00:17
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council remains without a Town Manager, Mayor and a Councilman following resignations last month.
Town Manager Tim Owens resigned at the November 13, meeting. Immediately following his resignation, Mayor Ray Rothrock and Councilman Lonnie Lashley resigned.
Rothrock commented that is was hard to operate without communication among council members and that he didn't feel continuing as Mayor was productive since his hands were always tied. He said Council members Steve Shuttleworth, Bob Lewis and Sarah Friede had all the answers and they could figure it out. During the Council's November 27, special meeting the Council decided not to interview candidates in an open meeting as previously indicated.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth (Acting Mayor) explained, "We had set the target of this Friday by noon so you could prepare three packages of all of the people that expressed an interest... and the three of us would review it. The three of us need to decide how we want to go from there."
Shuttleworth said, "There's one school of thought that says we bring everyone in and we ask them a bunch of questions of everyone and there's another school of thought" where each council member calls those people individually and make lists of top three choices.
Councilman Bob Lewis said, "Give each one of us all of them. If we have a question" for a candidate they can call them. Lewis said, "I think we rank our top two or three... have a matrix from one to five" and then share the list among all three Council members before making a decision.
Town Clerk Lynn Prusa said she's still waiting for a response from the NC School of Government on methods to select appointees including a rating process to narrow down the list to three or four candidates. Council members could speak with potential appointees individually, but appointments must be made in an open meeting.
Shuttleworth said, "If you have ten people show up at a meeting and say, ok, we're going to take a vote, it's kind of an awkward situation. If they have expressed enough interest to go through putting their name in I would hate to tarnish their feelings for volunteering for the community in the future."
He said, "It's a one year deal... I want to hear from them that they are willing to help with the other committee issues we have going on."
Lewis said, "There's a requirement of one meeting per month, the council meeting, but there's a lot of extra time" devoted to the job.
Council member Sarah Friede said, "I've had a fair number of people ask me how much time is involved. That's a very fair question. I don't know how to put my finger on it. We're coming up to budget season and last year that was a lot of meetings. A lot of daytime meetings. People who have full-time, daytime jobs and don't have a lot of flexibility over their schedule, that becomes problematic. When you move to all evening meetings then we are interfering with staff time and our own time with families. So there is some juggling involved."
Shuttleworth said potential appointees will be asked to serve on other regional committees such as the Ports Waterway and Beach Commission.
He said, "These are real business points that have to be covered for the next year. There is no guarantee after that. It's up to them. They want to run again" in November, "great, they don't want to run, that's fine."
He explained, "But for a year we need a real commitment, plus the budget, plus the agenda items."
Shuttleworth said, "It's pretty tough work guys, but it's not rocket science. It's a lot of reading" and there are department heads that support the Council for legal, budget, zoning and operations.
The Council will hold another meeting next Tuesday December 4th and will have a better idea of the number of applicants and their qualifications.
Friede said, "I think we are trying to be sensitive to what it might feel like for somebody who threw their name in the hat to come to a public meeting and feel like they were being grilled or on display. I don't think we want anybody to feel like they are uncomfortable at all."
She said it might be awkward to hold job interviews in public meetings and one-on-one time with candidates and individual council members may be more productive.
Shuttleworth, Lewis and Friede agreed that ultimately the appointments for Mayor and the Council seat need to be unanimous.
For the position of Town Manager, the Council is currently seeking a full time interim manager to fill in until they can locate a long-term candidate.
Shuttleworth said the Council has already interviewed one candidate for interim Town Manager and have not yet made a decision because they need to consider more than one before making a final decision.
However, the holiday season means the list of potential interim managers from the North Carolina League of Municipalities is short until after January 1.
Friede said it could take six months to find a new Town Manager and anyone serving as interim manager will work with the Council through the budget planning season in the spring.
The Kure Beach Town Council has experience with interviewing candidates to fill vacant seats on Town Council.
In 2010 the Kure Beach Town Council voted unanimously to select Emilie Swearingen to fill the vacant seat of Tim Fuller who resigned citing personal reasons.
Following acceptance of Fuller's resignation, the Council set a deadline to accept applications from citizens to serve the remainder of the term until the next election in November 2011.
The deadline brought four applications from David Heglar, Stephen Pagley, Craig Galbraith and Emilie Swearingen. The Kure Beach Council heard from all four candidates. Their questions focused mostly on each candidate's vision for the Town, views on taxes, fulfilling the position of budget management previously held by Fuller, and their availability to attend meetings as well as meet their daily work schedules. Each candidate offered a wealth of background and insight into their experience and views on serving the community as a Council member.
That process was simple, comfortable and without controversy.
Any eligible voter of the Town can be appointed by Council to a vacant seat.
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.
The person appointed to fill the vacant mayor’s seat and the vacant council member’s seat will serve until the next municipal election in Nov. 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.
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.
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.
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 would return to the normal schedule in 2015.
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.
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.
Currently the Council has selected Planning Director Ed Parvin to serve as interim manager until someone can be hired for the position.