City Council interviewing city manager candidates this month as Hiatt’s employment agreement is extended

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 18, 2022

SALISBURY — City Council members have narrowed a crowded pool of candidates to serve as the next city manager and are conducting interviews with finalists this month.

In the meantime, Interim Brian Hiatt’s contract has been extended until April 30.

Former City Manager Lane Bailey retired from the city in December, with Hiatt hired in November to serve in the interim. Hiatt spent a nearly 20-year stint as city manager of Concord before retiring in 2018. Before then, he was an assistant city manager in Hickory for more than 10 years. The city of Salisbury named Hiatt its interim planning director in 2018 until Hannah Jacobson was selected in April 2019.

Hiatt was hired upon the recommendation of Hartwell Wright, a human resources consultant with the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Chicago-based consulting firm Baker Tilly was hired in October to assist the city in recruiting candidates for the next manager.

City Clerk Kelly Baker told the Post there were a total of 62 applicants for the job. Interviews are ongoing, and Baker anticipates they will be completed by the end of March.

“Baker Tilly has been great to work with and we are very fortunate to have a very qualified pool of candidates who want to pursue Salisbury as their future,” Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Sheffield told the Post. “I am excited to see how the search unfolds.”

Salisbury’s governing body utilizes a council-manager model where the city council sets goals and a vision for the city and tasks the manager with handling the day-to-day affairs and managing city employees.

Council members this week approved an extension to the existing employee agreement with Hiatt. The agreement states that Hiatt can continue serving in an advisory capacity until April 30 if a new manager is hired before then. Hiatt told the Post he’ll be available to help the new hire if needed as long as it is during mutually agreeable times.

If council wishes to extend Hiatt’s employment beyond April 30, it will be based upon renegotiated terms.

Currently, Hiatt is using council feedback from the two-day planning retreat in January to prepare the 2022-23 fiscal year budget, which goes into effect July 1. A recommended budget must be presented to council members no later than June 1, and Hiatt said he’s working to put together a draft of the balanced budget. If a new hire is made before the end of April, Hiatt said that person will be able to impact the final budget recommendation. However, Hiatt is handling much of the legwork and the new hire will not need to start from scratch in reviewing revenue projections and departmental requests.

A city manager search timeline from Baker Tilly shows a deadline for resumes was set in late January, with council members selecting finalists in mid-February. This week kicked off candidate interviews among finalists, with an employment offer to be determined.

Baker told the Post council members are “on track” with the process.

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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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