Bids due next week for firms interested in helping Salisbury find city manager

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 8, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Next week, the city will receive bids from recruiting firms to assist in the selection of a new city manager.

Though the selection will be made during a public meeting, City Manager Lane Bailey, who is retiring in December, said the exact date hasn’t been set. The Salisbury City Council doesn’t have a regularly scheduled meeting until Oct. 19.

The city submitted requests for proposals from interested firms on Sept. 17 and set a deadline for bids by Oct. 14. During a meeting Aug. 30 to discuss the search, Hartwell Wright, a human resources consultant with the North Carolina League of Municipalities, told Salisbury City Council members they will ultimately determine the level of confidentiality for the process and how involved they want citizens to be. If the council desires the names of the candidates to made public, Wright said each candidate must be notified and granted time to agree to that provision.

Bailey told the Post Thursday the selected firm likely will have a process in mind to seek public input about what attributes Salisbury residents want in a new manager. While the firm selection will made during an open meeting session, Bailey said making names public before a selection could produce negative effects, he said.

“If City Council announces finalists for the position, that will significantly reduce the applicant pool,” Bailey said. “Many candidates will not apply if they have to go through a public process.”

During the Aug. 30 meeting, Wright estimated hiring a firm would cost around $40,000.

Since the process is lengthy and unlikely to be completed by Bailey’s last day, Wright suggested the council consider appointing an interim until the new manager is hired. Council members at the Aug. 30 meeting voted to allow Wright to provide the city with an external interim candidate option based on the pool of retirees who have expressed a desire to work in a temporary capacity.

Bailey told the Post council members will decide whether to appoint someone internally such as Assistant Manager Zack Kyle or an external candidate. That person wouldn’t be appointed to the interim position until the end of Bailey’s term because only one person can be manager at a time. The interim would have the same authority as a full-time manager.

Each municipality in North Carolina can decide to operate its governmental operations on one of two models, which is outlined in a municipal charter. Salisbury operates on a council-manager form, meaning the mayor and council establish the policies and hire a manager to implement those policies and hold statutory authority to hire and terminate employees. With this model, the mayor and council also hires the attorney and clerk directly.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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