By Ginger Jarvis
Greene Publishing, Inc.
On October 18, the Madison City Commissioners will meet in special session to write a profile for a new city manager. During the regular meeting on October 11, the commissioners ironed out a severance package for retiring City Manager Harold Emrich, who has held the position for almost six years.
The position opened at a special budget meeting on September 27 when Emrich tendered his resignation. At that meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept Emrich’s letter. Emrich said that he was willing to remain in the office through his hiring anniversary date (March 14, 2012) in order to assist with a new manager’s transition. However, the commissioners voted to terminate his employment when his agreement expires on December 31, 2011.
During the October 11 meeting, the commissioners discussed Emrich’s severance pay and benefits. Commissioners Myra Valentine and Judy Townsend moved to offer pay and benefits through December 31 with Emrich’s service ending on October 11. The motion was approved unanimously, and Emrich departed from the meeting.
Paul Sharon of the International City/County Management Association offered assistance with the process at no cost to the city. He advised the commissioners to design a profile of the person they would hire, then advertise the position with the profile, salary range, and other pertinent factors. The commissioners will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, October 18, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the profile. Catron stressed that the public will be welcome at the meeting to offer input into the description.
The commissioners expect to close advertising at the end of November so that Sharon can have time to review the resumes submitted and offer recommendations. Following that, the commissioners will conduct a series of interviews. Sharon said, “I believe you are in a buyer’s market for this. You will attract some good candidates.”
Mayor Jim Catron said that he expects to have a new manager in place in February. Meanwhile, he (Catron) will serve as far as legally possible to carry out the duties of a manager. According to City Attorney Clay Schnitker, Catron can sign checks and invoices, but cannot instruct employees or mediate employee complaints. The commissioners decided that department heads will continue to supervise employees as usual. “If a problem arises, then we can hire someone on a temporary basis to take care of it,” said Townsend. Schnitker offered a short list of persons who might fill in for emergency service.
The decision to accept Catron’s services following former commissioner Jackie Johnson’s comment that paying the severance package while paying an interim manager would be an extra burden on the taxpayers. Commissioner Jim Stanley responded, “Under the circumstances, I feel we need to do what is good for the city.”
Later Johnson commented, “We worked with Mr. Emrich in setting up our new business. He did a good job and went by the rules and regulations, even though sometimes it made us angry. He has done whatever was best for the city.”
Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Vees added, “We extend thanks to Mr. Emrich for working with the Chamber. We do appreciate his service to the community.” Catron said, “I think Mr. Emrich has acted professionally.”