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Greenville Town Council discusses town manager’s position

Ashley Hunter, Greene Publishing, Inc.

Filling the position of town manager in Greenville has been a long process since the town's last manager, Tim Day resigned in January of this year, leaving a gap to be filled.

After Day resigned, Town Clerk Kim Reams was placed as the temporary acting-manager of Greenville, and an additional $25,000 was agreed to be added to her salary as compensation for the extra duties Reams would be performing.

Since that point, the Town Council has worked to find a new employee to fill the position of manager and allow Reams to return to being the town clerk.

At the regular June meeting of the council, it was announced that 16 job applications had been provided and the council members agreed to shortlist the applicants and compare their qualities at a special meeting on June 22.

After that meeting, an individual was selected to take the position as a part-time town manager.

However, the individual began to request alterations to his contract before he began employment, such as being paid $450 a week, working 15 hours a week, with $2,000 upfront for moving expenses.

The council denied the alterations the individual wished to make, deciding to pay him $400 a week, with a 20 hour work week and no upfront moving expenses coverage.

The new town manager was set to begin employment at Greenville on Nov. 1, but after deciding not to make the alterations, the council members received an email from the individual stating that he would not be taking the job after all. This, again, left the town without an official town manager and left the duties on Reams’ shoulders.

The Greenville Town Council held a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 6 to discuss the town manager position and perhaps make changes to the way they were going about employing someone.

The meeting began as usual, with a prayer and the pledge to the flag, before the council members began their discussion, which was led by Mayor Calvin Malone.

Malone offered that the council may need to rethink some of the standards they have set for applications, such as the amount of required experience and schooling.

“We have such high standards for such little pay,” said Malone. “I don't believe it is going to happen until we change some of the standards we have here.”

In Malone's opinion, it was more advantageous to the council and the town to hire someone who was enthusiastic and had an invested interest in Greenville, rather than someone with a resume filled with prior experience.  “If they have all that experience, I don't think their intentions are to stay here [in Greenville] forever,” said Malone, who believed it would be better to offer the job to a younger person who is looking to build their experience and, as default, will work harder to create a name for themselves.

“We need to give someone a chance,” said Malone. “I am all for education, but when someone spends four to six years in school, they aren't parking here in Greenville for $25,000. We need to be realistic about things”

Councilwoman Brandi Seabrooks built onto Malone's remarks, saying that the amount that Greenville is wanting to pay for professional services will not entice anyone with the ability to offer those services.

“If we are looking for education and experience, we need to offer more money,” said Seabrooks. “If it was me, I wouldn't come. It's too cheap.” Seabrooks added that McDonald's restaurant managers make the same amount the council is offering to pay their town manager. However, according to www.glassdoor.com, the typical salary of a McDonald's store manager is $42,641, but the salaries can range between $25,000-$57,909. Which is either equal to, or more than Greenville is offering to their potential town manager.

Councilwoman Joi Collins disagreed with paying the manager more, saying that the position is only part-time, and doesn't need to match the pay that full time town managers would receive.

Collins referred back to the job advertisement, which requested either education or experience, meaning that the person does not need to be 'paid for the education,' as Seabrooks believed.

“Why can't we find someone with less education and less experience and give them a try?” asked Mayor Malone.

According to Collins, the previous pool of applicants had people who were qualified but had less education and experience than the man they chose. “We just didn't choose them,” said Collins. “We chose the top four [qualified] applicants. If we went back to the applicant pool, there would be someone with less education and less experience.”  Collins also advised that the council could advertise again, and hope to reap an entirely different crop of applicants.

“We have a responsibility to the town. We are advertising and advertising which costs us money every time,” said Mayor Malone. “This [is] constantly going back and forth, and I'm against that. I don't like spending money for nothing.” According to Malone, the town's dumping of money into advertising had yet to see results, as the only applicant they had chosen had backed out before his contract had even begun. “The bottom line is, someone who is trying to gain a reputation and experience will be willing to do more for us than someone who has already got it,” added Malone. “With all the experience and education you guys are asking for, even if I had a master's degree and I got four or five years experience in management, I'm not coming to Greenville.”

Councilwoman Barbara Dansey had her own take on the situation, saying that the needs that Greenville has are needs that should be handled by someone with experience, rather than an amateur. “I am looking for someone who will help with growth,” said Dansey. In her opinion, if those needs would be best handled by someone with experience and schooling, that is what Greenville should require of their potential manager. “None of the applicants who were left had that [economic development] experience. A person with no experience, I feel, could not accomplish anything for us.”

Despite Malone's hesitance about re-advertising, the council voted to advertise again, with Councilwoman Dansey making the motion and Councilwoman Collins seconding it.

The vote was carried with a 4-0 vote; Malone voted in agreement as well, despite his stance against re-advertising.

The advertisement is to be run in all the places it was posted in previously.

For the second part of their meeting, the council discussed goals for the town, but did not cast any votes to bring those goals into action.

Also discussed was Dansey's concern that the council members were breaking the Sunshine Law without knowing, and Mayor Malone decided the council needed to again familiarize themselves with the Sunshine Law.

Another matter that was discussed was the council's fear that, over time, the Madison County School Board would close down Greenville Elementary School (GES) and have all the students attend Madison County Central School. However, after being contacted about the remarks made about closing GES, Superintendent Doug Brown denied that the school board has any plans to close the Greenville school.

Before ending the meeting, Mayor Malone attempted to return to discussing the Town Manager position and the pay offered, but was reminded by fellow council members that the topic was now closed, as it had already been voted on and accepted.

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