Landis town manager Reed Linn to voluntarily step down in March

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 5, 2019

LANDIS — Mayor Mike Mahaley on Monday announced Reed Linn would leave his post as town manager in March while staying on as fire chief. 

The announcement came in front of a standing-room-only crowd of Landis residents, many of whom spoke during a public-comment period about everything from the town’s finances to power and water rates.

Linn, who was not present at the meeting, had Mahaley read a letter saying he would retire on March 1. He will use vacation time until then but will continue to be the town’s fire chief, Mahaley said.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you, the board and all of our citizens for so many years,” the letter stated.

After going into a closed session, the board announced that Police Chief Kenny Isenhour would serve as interim town manager. Isenhour was previously Millbridge Elementary School principal and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, among the most prestigious awards presented by the governor.

They wished Linn the best and said they would miss his “huge wealth of knowledge.”

Mahaley thanked Linn and other town employees for their service, saying much of what they do is unappreciated

“Our employees work tirelessly concerning the residents of Landis and their work often goes unseen and unpraised,” Mahaley said. “These men and women deserve a lot of things. What they do not deserve, however, is to have their name slandered with rumors and allegations. I want to make this point perfectly clear despite any rumor you may have heard. Reed Linn’s retirement is purely his decision. It is not a forced resignation.”

Mahaley was referencing a January article by the Salisbury Post addressing the town’s finances and the state’s Local Government Commission’s concern over their spending.

In his letter, Linn fired back at the article by saying the town had “released” a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant rather than “forfeited” it. Despite assertions to the contrary by the LGC, the town had communicated with the state agency and that the town always votes on budget amendments at the end of the fiscal year while keeping internal notes that are not formally approved, among other things.

The room was filled with residents crowding in the town hall and outside waiting to get answers from the board about town spending, specifically regarding utility bills and water/sewer bills.

Kurt Culbert was among the crowd of residents in and outside Town Hall hoping to get answers about town spending. Culbert asked the board to consider the concerns from the Local Government Commission and answer the questions

“They had some issues addressed in that letter that have merit to be considered by this group,” Culbert said. “I would highly recommend that the board consider all of those points and seek opportunities to identify resources to help shake the tree loose to get to the heart of any of those issues that might be there. And we might find that they’re not.”

Meredith Smith said residents need transparency and that they are tired of not having their questions answered or brushed aside.

Don Gariepy, who has lived in Landis for 10 years, questioned why the town had financial issues if the bills were high. He said the town had basic money management issues.

Some people asked the board to do a forensic audit to break down the town’s money management. The board members and staff could not answer when the town would make the audit available or when they will meet to discuss it.

After an hour of public comment during which Mahaley attempted to address concerns as they came, the mayor encouraged the audience to come to town hall and file open-records requests if they have concerns.

“I like my job and I think we do,” Mahaley said. “We’re not perfect, but if I can only stress one thing: Come to City Hall, see me, see Debbie (Goodman, the town clerk), see anybody, ask for the information you need and we’ll get it for you.”

Mahaley also called many of the public comments on Monday “ludicrous” and said the Salisbury Post report was “fake news.”

In other business:

• Ron Miller, the public works director, gave an update on the paving of West Davis, West 5th and West 6th streets. Davis and Sixth streets is scheduled to be paved in March and 6th Street in June.

• The board unanimously approved a minimum housing standard ordinance.

• The mayor signed a proclamation declaring February as Black History Month.