Town Manager Seth Lawless was set to return to work this week after being out on temporary health leave since February, the town announced in a release on Friday.
“This is great news for the town,” Mayor James Roberson said. “The most important thing is that Seth is healthy and well, and we’re looking forward to having him back.”
Lawless was to return this past Monday.
Roberson said the town staff “has done an excellent job in his absence,” and gave credit to Lawless for putting together a team that was able to function highly while the manager was out.
Lawless will let the council know if he has any changes in how he plans for the town to proceed after his return. Roberson said: “Seth will look at everything. He is the town manager, and he will let us know if he’s going to make any changes. But right now we’re just excited that he’s going to be back.”
Acting Town Manager Hal Mason, a Garner resident retired from a long career in municipal government in North and South Carolina, will be stepping aside for Lawless’ return. The town contracted with Mason on a part-time basis for two months.
Roberson said the town was able to find the money to hire Mason because it went without a finance director for six months after the town fired former finance director Jimmy Overton.
The council met in closed session for personnel reasons for about 45 minutes at the April 20 meeting before the announcement on Friday morning.
Lawless could not be reached for comment on Friday.
While Lawless was out, the council adopted a new organizational plan that the mayor said he hopes will help streamline town operations. The plan was passed as an interim plan, but Roberson has said he would like to keep it in place after Lawless’ return.
The decision on whether to keep the new plan in place would rest with Town Council.
The new organizational plan cut the number of people reporting directly to the manager from seven to three. Those reporting to Mason were Administrative Services Director Suzanne Yeatts, Police Chief Lawrence Capps and Development Services Director Chris Hills.
Capps now oversees public safety and Yeatts administrative services, parks and recreation, and communications. Hills oversees development services and public works.
The new structure did not affect titles or compensation, according to the town.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826