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Editorial: Hosey has right vision for Landis

Among many in Landis, Roger Hosey’s appointment as town manager has drawn skepticism.

And why wouldn’t it? The board chose Hosey without any indication of a formal application process. He was on the staff during the tenure of former Manager Reed Linn and Finance Officer Ginger Gibson, who left under the cloud of an embezzlement investigation.

Those are reasonable concerns and there are others about the contents of his contract, such as the fact that he’s simultaneously the deputy police chief and town manager.

But Hosey’s commitment to stabilizing town government is what’s important.

He calls himself an “outsider from the inside” and says the police department was segregated “for reasons that have been more clear in the last few months.” Landis citizens should consider that Hosey has done the lions’s share of the work in bringing transparency to Landis government.

The transparency page on the town’s website, containing all manner of documents, wouldn’t be possible without Hosey — a 39-year-old who worked in information technology in the early 2000s and says he was inspired to become a police officer, in part, by the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And his work to provide transparency apparently includes regular bank and credit card statements, too. Hosey said as much Thursday in an interview with the Post during which he spoke about all manner of items pertaining to Landis and past practices by the town.

For example, Hosey said the town’s certified professional account previously didn’t have direct access to view the town’s bank statements.

That has now changed.

And he’s given members of the Landis Board of Aldermen view-only access to the town’s bank accounts and credit cards, which have now been consolidated at one bank.

The goal, Hosey said, is to put lots of checks and balances in place so that it doesn’t matter who’s town manager or finance officer.

Embezzlement won’t happen again and Hosey didn’t mince words when saying he “damn sure” wasn’t going to steal from the town.

Someone committed to embezzling will find a way to do so, but existing and future steps Hosey plans to take will create significant speed bumps in the process. Meanwhile, town board members must be more firm in requesting public records or other information when a town manager or finance officer says, “We’re not allowed to do that.”

And if the town is short on money amid a national, state and regional economic recovery from a recession, there are other questions to be asked.

We’ve written before that a manager who moves from elsewhere would be best suited to take the reins of town government following Linn’s and Gibson’s ouster. And fresh eyes are still a good idea. But we think Hosey has taken much-needed steps.

The town was behind on its bills, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City of Salisbury, Hosey said. The town’s fund balance, partially a savings account, was hardly enough to keep town hall running in the case of an economic downturn. Meanwhile, the town finished the 2019 fiscal year with more cash on hand than it’s had in years, Hosey said.

Landis citizens are rightly still skeptical of town government. And as town manager, Hosey will bear the brunt of that skepticism — supercharged by the fact that it’s an election year. But any anger should be directed away from regular town employees.

They’ve been subjected to jokes and jeers when going about their daily lives, and that’s not fair for folks who likely learned about embezzlement allegations at the same time as the general public.

It’s time for Landis to collectively look toward solutions. And we think that Hosey will lead Landis well in finding those solutions.

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