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LGC raises concerns about Landis manager, deputy police chief’s power

LANDIS — Correspondence between the town of Landis and the State Treasurer’s Office’s Local Government Commission shows concerns that new Town Manager Roger Hosey holds multiple positions.

The commission, which ensures municipalities are appropriately handling their finances and monitors fiscal health, wrote Aug. 20 to Mayor Mike Mahaley about an Aug. 8 meeting with Hosey, Police Chief Kenny Isenhour and Assistant Town Manager Brandon Linn. The letter, received by the Post through a public-records request, was signed by Sharon Edmundson, director of fiscal management with the Local Government Commission.

The letter’s conclusion referred to the appointment of Hosey as town manager when saying, “There is one significant issue that we want to address with the board. Currently, one employee is holding four significant positions of authority within the town – town manager, interim finance officer, deputy police chief and information technology manager.”

Hosey was appointed town manager Aug. 5. The commission was made aware that night in an email sent by Hosey.

David Erwin, accounting and financial management adviser with the LGC, replied, saying, “Congratulations are in order I guess, but you must really like to do a myriad of jobs! Whew! You will continue to be a busy guy.”

In the Aug. 20 letter, Edmundson wrote, “Additionally, we were told that upon the retirement of the current police chief, this individual will be become the chief of police. This is entirely too much authority invested in a single individual and creates a serious lapse in internal control.”

Hosey’s contract says he will serve as deputy chief of police until Isenhour retires or resigns. Then Hosey will become the chief of police.

“Care must still be taken that there is no conflict of interest, with one person holding both the town manager and deputy chief of police positions; procedures must be put in place to address this issue,” Edmundson wrote. “It is ultimately the responsibility of the board to take appropriate action to ensure good internal controls for the proper safeguarding of town assets.”

The letter says hiring a qualified finance officer and removing the information technology manager responsibility from Hosey would improve internal control and better segregate responsibilities.

The town made progress on one of those suggestions, hiring Diane Seaford as finance officer. Her first day was Sept. 11.

In an Aug. 15 interview with the Salisbury Post, Hosey said he will still provide IT services for the town but plans to outsource larger projects. He said something similar at the Sept. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting

Alderman Seth Moore called out his fellow board members at that meeting, saying a contract drafted by Hosey was not negotiated. Some board members responded to that criticism saying they had negotiated with him.

Meanwhile, on July 8, Edmundson asked about the town manager position, and Hosey responded, “We have not posted the town manager position. As you are aware, the town manager is a political appointment made by the board, and the board has not instructed staff to post that position at this time.”

It was less than a month later that the Landis board picked Hosey.

At a Sept. 9 meeting, Hosey addressed concerns after several residents raised questions about his ability to handle multiple jobs and the lack of transparency with his appointment.

“I’m not in this position because it was something that I sought,” Hosey said. “I’m in this position because it was something that I was approached to do and that I felt my love for my town called on me and the man in me to do.”

Other correspondence shows that Hosey sought help from the Local Government Commission in hiring a finance officer.

On Aug. 2, Erwin emailed Hosey to set up a meeting to discuss six items, including the “status of hiring a manager and finance officer.”

The Aug. 20 letter stated the hiring a finance professional is “a high priority,” and that the LGC wanted to meet the new finance officer to review the financial responsibilities of the position.

On Aug. 26, Hosey asked Edmundson to send any suggested interview questions for the finance officer candidates.

Hosey said he understands that residents are upset and compared their displeasure with his feelings about possible embezzlement and the investigation into the former town manager and finance officer.

“I knew that when I accepted it, I was coming into a position where there was a lot of people that had outrage with the situation. And it was righteous outrage,” Hosey said. “Everyone here has a right to be extremely upset with what happened. I can guarantee that nobody is more upset than I am.”

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