Garner Cleveland Record

Dickerson will become Garner’s interim manager Jan. 5

Council members followed a familiar refrain Tuesday night when they appointed assistant town manager Rodney Dickerson to the post of interim town manager.

He will assume the position in the wake of Hardin Watkins’ resignation. Watkins will become the city manager for the town of Burlington.

The interim job isn’t new for Dickerson, who has served in the role three other times. He first served as the town’s interim manager following the retirement of Mary Todd. He later served shorter stints as the temporary leader when others were out on extended sick leave.

There’s no end date in sight for Dickerson’s term as town manager. Council members have not yet discussed plans for filling the position on a permanent basis.

The manager oversees as staff of 155 town employees and a $28.5 million annual operating budget.

Dickerson doesn’t plan to make wholesale changes in the way the local government operates, but he does have several high-profile tasks on his desk.

I have some positions I need to fill. We have a town clerk’s position and the finance director. Right now we’re in the middle of the town clerk search and then, at some point, I’ll pull the trigger on getting the finance director process moving,” Dickerson said. The town is also about to begin construction on a pair of new buildings, including a new town hall and he will be involved in that process.

Town manager searches typically take several months, which means Dickerson will likely be responsible for developing the town’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in July, 2016. That work, he said, is something he’s familiar with. “I may have more weight (in his new role) on what goes into the budget and what doesn’t make it, but we have a budget team that works on the budget and I’ve been a part of that for several years now, so I’m already familiar with how that process works,” Dickerson said.

Much of Dickerson’s guidance on the budget will come in February, when the town council holds its annual planning retreat.

The new role may be familiar to Dickerson, but it doesn’t come without some trepidation. “I’m excited and a little nervous. If you’re not a little bit nervous, you’re not taking it seriously. It’s the next step in my professional development and it’s a good opportunity, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Whether Dickerson will be a candidate for the permanent position remains to be seen. Dickerson was non-committal Wednesday.

“It’s too early to say. They (council members) haven’t made up their minds about what they are going to do. I don’t know what their expectations are for the position, so we’ll see,” Dickerson said.

Mayor Ronnie Williams said Dickerson is a good fit for his new assignment as the town’s interim leader. “Rodney has a wealth of professional experience and has the trust and respect of staff and the town’s elected leaders,” Williams said.

Dickerson will also see a raise in his pay while he serves in the interim role. His pay will rise from $114,000 to $135,000 for the time he serves as manager and he will also receive a $550 per month car allowance.

Johnny Whitfield: 919-829-4823, @_JWhitfield