A search is under way to replace former Loudon City and Loudon Utilities Board manager Lynn Mills, who died March 19.
Loudon Mayor Jim Greenway, City Councilman Jeff Harris and LUB Chairman John Hutton represent a three-person search committee seeking to fill the slot.
The position, which is currently listed on the LUB website, states, “This position is responsible for the management and administration for the departments of Utilities, including Electric, Gas, Water, and Waste Water and Police, Fire, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works.”
However, that could soon change. Loudon City Council on Monday night discussed the possibility of separating the management positions.
Councilman Lynn Millsaps was the first to bring the idea to the table, addressing the rest of council just before stepping into executive session.
“Has anybody looked at what it would cost for the city to hire a full-time manager?” Millsaps said. “I would like to know how much it would cost for the city to have a full-time manager and for utilities to have a full-time manager.”
During executive session, council decided to add an agenda item Monday to possibly split the position.
“I’ve been saying for two years we need to take a hard look at — when this position came open … I felt like we needed to take a hard look at splitting this decision,” Harris said.
After further discussion, Millsaps remained in favor of separating the two positions.
He based his decision on information gathered by John Canada, who was contracted by the city to provide a review from a human resources standpoint, which includes evaluating personnel, staffing and job practices.
“A big problem has been in the past, according to his report and I’m sitting here right now reading it again and going over it, was a lack of communication,” Millsaps said. “The city manager had done everything that needed to be done. … I just feel like this is an opportunity to do that, and the city manager salary, a portion of it, of the total salary, a portion of it is paid by the city and a larger portion is paid by the utilities. I just think nobody has the time to do both and it’s hard to find somebody educated and trained to do both. … I’m sure it would be hard to find somebody who has experience to do both of those. Even if you did it would be hard to find the time to get both done.”
The topic of hiring a joint manager was brought up during the LUB meeting prior to city council’s meeting Monday night.
Hutton said a timeline for making a hire could entail interviewing candidates in May and possibly have a decision by the regular meeting in May or at the start of June. Canada, who will also aid in the search, called the timeline aggressive.
“The timeline is — I think we’re not hung up on a timeline,” Hutton said after the meeting. “We do want a smooth process to where we have some good candidates to meet with and a lot of that is based on where they are and how they can get here. I also mentioned our interim manager (Michael Lambert), there’s some interest from him. So we want to go through a process where we give everybody a good shot. We’re not hung up on a certain date, but we did throw out a timeline to get in there by the first of June or something like that.”
A meeting will be held Thursday with one potential manager, but it is now unclear if that candidate would fill both positions until a vote is made Monday by city council.
“I would just say that response has been good,” Canada said of the search during the LUB meeting. “I think a few solid candidates have started to surface. Obviously, there’s been some that wouldn’t meet the criteria and I’m beginning to respond to some of those as well with the typical ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ I do have the first candidate to be seen here Thursday, this Thursday. I do have another one that I think is favorable that I’ll be meeting with tomorrow is the plan, who happened to be traveling. He’s a candidate who applied over the weekend and I’ll be reaching out to him because I think he is a solid one as well.”