Granite Quarry board extends interim town manager’s contract

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 26, 2019

GRANITE QUARRY — Interim Town Manager Larry Smith has a job at least through the end of this year, but the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen is still struggling with how to search for someone more permanent.

The aldermen voted 3-1 Thursday to extend Smith’s interim contract through Dec. 31. Voting for the extension were Aldermen Jim Costantino, Kim Cress and John Linker.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers voted against the motion. Mayor Bill Feather votes only in case of a tie.

Smith came on board in February, and his contract was set to expire early next month.

Linker said Smith has done excellent work in organization, “righting the ship” and keeping the board updated. “I think he’s done a great job so far,” Linker said.

Cress said Smith took the interim job “in a time of great turmoil.”

LaFevers said the board hired Smith under a narrow scope or charge — to guide the board through the budget process and otherwise work “to keep the boat steady.”

LaFevers pushed for a search process to begin now, even if it’s Smith himself who ends up with the job permanently. The town could possibly have a new person hired by the end of the year, LaFevers said.

“Why do we want to continue on an interim basis?” he asked. “Why don’t we get on with this permanently? … I want it to be over.”

LaFevers expressed some concern that Smith, as an interim manager, is becoming too involved in long-term projects such as revising committees and ordinances.

Smith stressed later in the discussion that he has brought every issue to the board first.

Feather also noted the narrow scope the board wanted Smith to follow when he was hired as an interim manager. He said the board has failed to move the search for a permanent manager forward, and if it ever does so, it should realize there are certain guidelines to follow.

“The process is important,” Feather said, and by dragging it out, it’s not necessarily good for the town staff.

Costantino agreed with LaFevers that a search for a new manager has to start.

“You have to get the process in place now,” Costantino said. “Why do we keep waiting?”

Cress and Linker expressed concerns about the possible cost of a search. And several board members said it might be better to wait on choosing a new town manager until after the Nov. 5 election, when theoretically the board could have three new faces.

“You’re only looking at four months, basically,” Cress said.

Linker said he sees only large dollar signs when talk turns to a town manager search.

“This is a discussion for not right now,” he said.

Linker added that extending Smith’s interim status to Dec. 31 gives both Smith and the town some stability.

Board members stressed several times that Smith can be considered for the permanent job, if he wants to be a candidate.

In another matter Thursday, the aldermen passed a resolution that asks the N.C. General Assembly to earmark state discretionary funds for U.S. 52 curb and sidewalk improvements from Church to Depot streets.

Feather has talked with state Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, about the request, which Granite Quarry is making in anticipation of U.S. 52’s repaving through the heart of town.

Feather also has spoken with the N.C. Department of Transportation’s district engineer, who is supportive of the project. Feather said he has yet to contact state Sen. Carl Ford.

“I’ll do some more legwork,” Feather said.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.