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City Council puts cap on payment to search firm

Salisbury City Council capped the amount the city will pay a company hired to assist in the search for a new city manager during its meeting Tuesday.

Council unanimously voted to cap payments to Developmental Associates LLC at $20,325. The company will build a list of candidates for the city to review.

The contract with Developmental Associates states the city will pay $17,500 for the company’s services.

On top of the initial $17,500, the city can choose to have the firm conduct an “emotional intelligence assessment” on up to 15 candidates at a cost of $65 per candidate. The city can have the results of the assessment further analyzed for up to seven candidates for $100 per candidate.

According to a document on Developmental Associates’ website, “Emotional intelligence includes the abilities to understand one’s emotions, manage those emotions effectively, interact effectively with others, and generate productive work with others.”

Part of the reason council chose Developmental Associates is that it performs the emotional intelligence assessment.

Assistant City Manager Zack Kyle said Developmental Associates could have its search complete in 90 days, but council members agreed there is no need to rush.

Former City Manager Doug Paris stepped down in June after an hours-long closed-session meeting with council. Council members haven’t said why Paris stepped down, but they’ve said it was a mutual decision between Paris and council.

John Sofley, the assistant city manager under Paris, is currently the interim city manager. He has said he plans to be a candidate for the permanent position.

Council also approved an amendment to the conditional district overlay for the redevelopment of Civic Park Apartments in the West End.

The amendment changes the plans for phase II of the project. Phase I is currently underway.

The changes bring the total number of units in the complex down from 181 to 170. It adds two four-bedroom units at the corner of Forney and Tabernacle streets across from the main complex.

Plans initially called for Tabernacle Street, which will run through the center of the complex, to be split in to two one-way streets, but the amendment makes it one two-way street, which will allow for more greenspace in the complex, according to Preston Mitchell, the city’s planning and development director.

Plans for phase II include land set aside for a “future child development center,” which had the owners of a nearby daycare concerned.

Patricia Smyre, director of Salisbury Child Care and Fine Arts Center on Standish Street near the apartment complex, said a daycare at Civic Park would hurt her business.

But Sam Foust, executive director of the city’s housing authority, said there are no set plans to build a daycare at the new Civic Park Apartments. He said land was set aside in the complex to be used if funding, approximately $2 million, becomes available.

The Civic Park property is owned by the housing authority, and Foust said he would like to see a preschool built there.

Councilman Brian Miller summed up the situation by saying, “It’s undetermined” if and when anything will be built on the land set aside for a child development center.

Council members asked Foust to make sure the people at Salisbury Child Care are kept in the loop about any future plans.

In other business:

• Council approved a municipal agreement with the state Department of Transportation for up to $125,000 in reimbursements to the city for expenses related to a sidewalk project on Jake Alexander Boulevard planned to begin in March. The sidewalk will start at Castlewood Drive on the west side of Jake Alexander Boulevard and run north to the intersection with Lincolnton Road. From there the project will move to the other side of the street, and the sidewalk will run north on the east side of Jake Alexander to Brenner Avenue.

• The Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department will host “Second Saturday Screenings” Saturday at Hall Gym located at 1402 West Bank Street. Bring a blanket or chair and watch the featured movies “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.” The first movie begins at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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