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News Franklin to begin hunt for new town manager

The Town of Franklin will soon begin searching for a new manager. At last week’s retreat, the board of aldermen began discussions about seeking a new permanent manager to replace the current interim manager, Sam Greenwood, whose term is set to expire in April 2012.

The board decided to begin seeking a new manager no later than September. Board members also indicated that they would be most comfortable seeking a manager with experience in government in western North Carolina.

Greenwood is employed by the town for 1,000 hours per year and, according to his contract, is paid $68,270 annually with $10,000 contributed to his retirement plan and $500 provided monthly for travel.

In the meantime, Greenwood advised that the town board begin clarifying the roles of the various branches of the town government. The town’s shift from a mayoral-council type government to that of a management-council type three years ago has left some ambiguity concerning duties and responsibilities of Franklin officials, particularly those of the manager. Greenwood noted that it was the aldermen’s duty to cement the manager’s role by November of next year.

“What we’re talking about is ... for the aldermen and mayor and manager to work toward clearing lines of communication, defining responsibilities, the board defining what all parties should do, ... and clarifying those roles,” said Greenwood. He added that the relationship between the three entities is a rare one, born in transition, therefore, as a new and permanent manager is sought out, it would behoove the town to solidify the duties of all its officials.

Greenwood also advised that the town board avoid closed sessions for deliberation in their hunt for a new manager and challenged the board to refrain from the practice for at least one year. He remarked that the town board has a good track record of the use of closed sessions, but that the only officially closed aspect of the hiring process should be the interviewing of candidates.

Surplus properties on the block

Aldermen also discussed the need to do something with surplus properties in the Town’s possession.

Mayor Collins immediately asserted that the town is currently sitting on two pieces of property that draw absolutely no revenue, and said that holding onto the Whitmire and Old Town Hall properties was in no way beneficial to the Town of Franklin.

“The positives about having nothing done [with the properties] is that all the options are open. The negatives are that they are not income-producing or otherwise being made as part of what we call a thriving community,” said Collins.

“What would be a shame is after you develop minimum housing standards, you have to cite the town for those two pieces of property,” retorted Greenwood along with Handley.

According to Greenwood, the Old Town Hall’s uses are starkly defined as a commercial property, and should simply be prepared for resale upon recommendation of an appraiser.

“It’s not costing us anything, but the market out there is just not there,” Mashburn commented.

Concerning the Whitmire property, Aldermen reflected the size of the property's significance with their discussion.

“We’re talking about how we want to hire a new Town Manager for the next board too. It may be three boards down the line, before anything can be done with the Whitmire property,” cautioned Mashburn. “Even though we would all like to have a say-so in it, I don’t think we can, because I don’t think there’s anything out there that we can do with it [now].”

Vice-Mayor Verlin Curtis said that accepting a design proposal by any of the previously solicited architects would “lessen the opportunity for a fair market price,” he said, adding later that accepting a design would limit the board’s decisions,” though he expressed that it was a sound idea.

“We should clean it up. It’s a mess,” said Patillo.


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