Town leaders spent Wednesday evening compiling a list of 15 qualities they would like to see in Zebulon’s next town manager.
They also set the end of January as the general time they would like to begin reviewing applications for the position vacated by Rick Hardin, who resigned in November.
Commissioners were asked to share attributes they see as important and also worked off a list compiled by town staff to narrow their list to the top 15. Words like communication, education, experience and personality were offered regularly.
“I would prefer someone with experience, 2-to-4 years, preferably in a similar-sized town,” Commissioner Don Bumgarner said. “I think bringing someone in green would be a mistake on our part.”
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Bumgarner led off the commissioners in a rotation of input that ended once unique characteristics were exhausted. His opening remark later became the town’s first expectation – that the new manager be someone with an undergraduate degree with some form of experience in municipal government.
Other entries on the list describe a manager who has a team management approach (not autocratic, not a micro-manager); who is personable and professional, has conflict resolution capabilities, good employee relations and who displays integrity and trustworthiness.
“If he or she doesn’t have integrity, they won’t be around for long,” Commissioner Dale Beck said.
Experience making budgets, vision for the future of the town, a good first impression and understanding that the manager answers to the town board and keeps commissioners equally informed on town matters were also among the desired qualities listed by commissioners.
Good communication skills (verbal and written); civic-mindedness and involvement with the chamber of commerce; residence in Zebulon’s corporate limits; a belief in strong customer service, working for the people; the ability to work with other entities, both public and private and good technical/computer skills rounded out the list.
“We’re going to have to get a feeling if they are going to mesh in with the people of Zebulon, North Carolina,” Bumgarner said. “It’s not that the people of Zebulon are different, but the people of Zebulon are different. I certainly want (the new manager) to fit in.”
Out of the 15 qualities, the board selected four to be included along with the job posting: the education and experience requirements, budgetary experience, communication skills and a requirement that the manager live in town.
The board also agreed the manager’s starting salary range should be in line with his or her experience. Hardin’s final salary in Zebulon was $113,657. He had served as the town’s manager for 15 years.
Matheny suggested the town begin advertising the position by the end of the year. Commissioner Curtis Strickland questioned whether or not a month was a long enough window to accept applications, and Beck agreed.
“If you get to the end of the month and you don’t have anyone you like at all … ,” Beck said.
The group decided to begin reviewing candidates at the end of January, rather than setting a hard cutoff date for applications, in case a strong candidate applies for the job during their review process.