Hemann offered Tennessee job

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Red Bank, Tenn., wants Randy Hemann.
Elected leaders in the small city surrounded by Chattanooga voted unanimously Tuesday night to offer the city manager’s job to Hemann, the executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc.
Hemann has not given an answer but told the Post he was flattered and will consider their offer.
“I was honored that it was a unanimous vote and look forward to talking to them further about it,” he said. “The plan is to go home and pray, and I may make a trip up there to look around one more time.”
Hemann beat out four other candidates, all from Red Bank.
“I won’t say it surprised me, but I will say all of us really liked Randy and apparently all five felt that he would bring a breath of fresh air to our city,” said Mayor Monty Millard, who asked Hemann to give an answer before noon Friday.
Hemann recently landed a $12,000 raise from Downtown Salisbury Inc., bringing his salary to $84,200. Both Hemann and Mark Lewis, vice president of the downtown board of directors, said the raise was awarded before Hemann’s pursuit of the Red Bank job.
Lewis said the downtown board raised Hemann’s salary so his pay would be commensurate with similar positions across the state. Downtown Salisbury has offered Hemann no additional money to stay since learning about his job search, he said.
“We are making every effort to keep him,” Lewis said. “If God leads him to a different place, he goes with all of our thanks and out best wishes.
“That being said, I hope he says no.”
Red Bank city commissioners recently set the salary for the city manager’s position at $75,000. The previous city manager, who was fired after six years, was making $90,000.
While there might be some room for negotiation, “that’s the salary the five of us agreed on in an open meeting, and that’s also the salary that Randy indicated on his resume that he would accept,” Millard said.
When asked if he thought Red Bank would negotiate, Hemann said, “I hope so.”
He had a favorable first impression of the town last month during his interview, Hemann said.
“It’s a wonderful region, and the town’s got lots of potential,” he said. “It might be a good fit for me.”
Red Bank commissioners have expressed surprise publicly that Hemann is interested in the job. Red Bank, population 11,000, has problems with vacant commercial buildings and housing code violations, and several former and current police department employees are suing the city.
“I view what I see there as a challenge that I would look forward to addressing,” Hemann said. “I think I could help them in areas they need help with.”
Hemann, who’s never been a city manager, said he wants to expand the work he’s done for Downtown Salisbury and apply the same initiatives to an entire city. He would not comment on whether he’s applied for other city manager jobs but said he did not apply for the opening in Salisbury.
Lewis said Hemann’s success with Downtown Salisbury is well-known and includes growing the tax base, forming relationships with merchants and making downtown a destination through special events like Night Out.
“But what people don’t realize is how good he is with economic development and historic preservation,” Lewis said. “He has a skill set that translates beautifully to economic development.”
Downtown Salisbury is a great organization, Hemann said.
“It will be a difficult decision,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.