Drew Havens, who has served as Apex’s interim town manger since December, will assume the role permanently, the council voted Tuesday.
The Town Council approved the promotion following a closed session at Tuesday’s meeting. Havens, who had been Apex’s assistant town manager for about a year and a half under Bruce Radford, took on the interim role after Radford retired. Radford had been town manager for 14 years.
“I think in the back of my head I thought I would apply for my opportunity when Bruce Radford retired,” Havens said Wednesday. “I just expected that opportunity would have come 3 to 5 years down the road after I got here – not 18 months.”
He said his salary will be $157,000.
Former Public Works Director Tim Donnelly, who has been serving as interim assistant town manager under Havens, will assume his role permanently as well. He “took the ‘interim’ tag off his door this morning,” Havens said.
Town managers are responsible for implementing the town council’s directives, providing guidance and data for council decisions and overseeing the day-to-day operation of town departments.
The council first hinted it was considering Havens for a long-term position in February when it suspended a search for an outside town manager to give Havens more time to prove himself as he and his staff began crafting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Mayor Lance Olive, who has spoken highly of Havens and his work over the past several months, said the town wanted to do due diligence and consider outside candidates but “what became apparent to us in the last two or three weeks was that we couldn’t come up with an archetype of what we wanted, if not Drew.”
He and several council members said Havens is well-liked by both the council and staff and that Havens’ even-handed and proactive approach to managing the town’s affairs has impressed them. For example, Havens responded to council members’ requests for more time to consider the budget by presenting the first draft in April. That’s earlier than in past years and “three to five weeks ahead of other Wake County municipalities,” Olive said.
“I have to say, in years past, I feel when it comes to June we’re under the gun to get (the budget) approved,” said Councilman Gene Schulze, chair of the town’s personnel committee. “He’s given us that opportunity.”
Olive said that forward-looking mindset also has helped Havens balance the council’s workload and rein in council meetings that would sometimes last past midnight.
Havens, 54, worked as a police officer and small business-owner in his hometown of Thetford, Vt., before entering municipal management. He has worked for 15 years in government, serving in Glasgow, Va., and River Bend, a town of about 3,000 people near New Bern. He left River Bend in 2014 to come to Apex, where he and his wife now live.
“This is the first community I’ve been where we’re dealing with the issues of growth,” Havens said. “But I’ve always said it’s a matter of scale. If you can manage a town of 3,000, you can manage one of 50,000. Now I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is, I guess.”
Havens holds a masters in public administration and and maintains the Credentialed Manager designation from the International City and County Management Association.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan