City Manager David Treme to retire Aug. 1

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Saying he had done his best for the city he loves, David Treme announced Tuesday he will retire Aug. 1 after more than 25 years as Salisbury’s city manager.
“I have given you my very best, and hopefully most of the times it was good enough,” Treme said. “I will look back with no regrets.”
Holding back tears, Mayor Susan Kluttz reluctantly accepted Treme’s desire to retire and said it is difficult to imagine city government without him.
“This is an historic time. This ends an important chapter in Salisbury’s history,” said Kluttz, who has served as mayor for 14 years alongside Treme. “The city is better off today for your love and concern and dedication.”
Treme’s surprise announcement brought several city staffers in the audience to tears. He had notified the city’s management team shortly before Tuesday’s council meeting that he would retire.
Earlier this year, the council voted unanimously to give Treme a bonus of at least $35,000 at retirement. If he had remained until the end of 2012, the bonus could have doubled to roughly $70,000.
Council offered the incentive in recognition of Treme’s service and in an effort to keep him at the helm while the city establishes Fibrant, the new fiber-to-the-home telecommunications utility.
Treme, who turns 64 years old Friday, said once he knew he would not stay until Dec. 31, 2012, he thought it best to retire. He will depart before the November elections, when all five seats on the council are up for grabs.
Treme said he plans to spend time with his family, traveling to Korea to see his 2-year-old grandchild.
“I would like to do some new things while I’m still able,” he said.
He mentioned teaching, possibly classes in leadership, state and local government or strategic planning. For the first time, Treme said he has no firm plans.
“This is crazy,” he said.
City Council members sang his praises and passed a resolution appointing him city manager emeritus, the city’s highest professional honor.
“I’m going to miss you, but I know where your heart is,” said William “Pete” Kennedy, the longest-serving council member with 18 years in office. “Your heart is with the city.”
Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell said Treme has spent many long days and long years with the city and should be rewarded with a wonderful retirement.
“You fought the good, long fight,” she said.
Councilman Brian Miller recalled going to Treme when he was newly elected and had just changed jobs. His world had been turned upside down, and he was looking for validation for his decisions, Miller said.
“Not only did we talk, but you also offered to spend time in prayer with me,” he said.
While he and Treme have had differences of opinion, they have always respected each other, Miller said.
“Salisbury could not have had a better soldier, and I appreciate what you’ve done,” he said.
Councilman Paul Woodson was absent but sent his regards.
“Dave has always been very professional,” Woodson said in a press release. “The city has made great progress over the last 14 years. We will miss Dave’s leadership.”
Treme is responsible for implementing many of the practices Salisbury uses, which have made the city a model for other local governments in the state and the nation, Kluttz said.
He initiated the council’s system of goals and outcomes, annual goal-setting retreats, management-team leadership and customer service initiatives that won national recognition last year.
Treme introduced his management processes to Salisbury when he was hired by the late Mayor John Wear, Susan Kluttz’s father.
Under Treme’s leadership, the city used public-private partnerships to accomplish important initiatives, Kluttz said. She cited gang summits, the Flowers Bakery redevelopment, downtown revitalization, Town Mall development and the Plaza restoration as a few examples.
Salisbury’s utilities have grown with Treme at the helm. With the Salisbury-Rowan Utilities’ agreement with Progress Energy to increase Salisbury’s water plant capacity to over 25 million gallons per day, as well as the development of Fibrant, the city is positioned for a successful future, Kluttz said.
After several years of study, focus groups and public hearings, Treme guided the city through construction of the Fibrant network and a new customer service building, Kluttz said.
Fibrant is now fully operational serves more than 900 customers.
“One of Dave’s greatest strengths is that he understands the importance of having a strong team of leaders managing the departments,” she said. “Having these qualified leaders in place will help ensure a smooth transition for the city, and I am confident the outstanding government we experience today will continue in the future.”
Treme’s 36-year career as a city manager began in 1975 as the city manager of Mauldin, S.C. He came to Salisbury in February 1986 from Georgetown, S.C., where he served as city manager for nearly nine years.
Salisbury has the most outstanding employees in the state, Treme said, and what the city does as a government is second to none.
He plans to stay in Salisbury after he retires, and over the next several months will see “what the Lord is opening up for me to do,” he said.
The time was right to retire, he said.
“I can look back in my career and say I tried to the best of my ability to glorify God in everything I’ve done,” Treme said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
Who will replace Treme?
Mayor Susan Kluttz said she and City Council soon will meet with assistant city managers Doug Paris and John Sofley to select an acting or interim city manager to lead the organization while Council decides how to fill the position.
Kluttz asked Human Resources Director Zack Kyle to brief Council on options for the selection process.