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Haymarket begins search for new town manager

- haymarket-begins-search-for-new-town-manager

Haymarket begins search for new town manager

The Haymarket Town Council is set to begin considering who will take over as the next town manager now that at least four applicants submitted information regarding the vacant position.
Council members did not set a firm deadline on when the person who will succeed former town manager Gene Swearingen, who resigned in December amid controversy after council voted unanimously to suspend him with pay while investigating his conduct at manager.
However, Haymarket Mayor David Leake mentioned during an interview on Jan. 19 that he is hopeful council may approve of a new manager by as early as its next monthly meeting, set for Monday, Feb. 4.
"I see that as totally likely, yes," said Leake I'm hoping that there's no hiccup in that."
Both Leake and vice-mayor Jay Tobias agreed that after council members begin to review applications during the next two weeks, they may invite one or more applicants to address council in a closed, executive session during the Feb. 4 meeting.
That would essentially serve as job interview.
Yet Leake and Tobias differed on the likelihood of a smaller committee of two or more council members meeting with the town clerk before making a recommendation to the larger council about the applicants.
Tobias explained that process is something that council used previously.
"I would think this would probably go along the same lines," he said.
Leake objected, saying, "I think we need all six members to hear the information equally and decide."
The mayor would only vote on the decision to hire the next manager if the council deadlocks and he must break the tie. Otherwise, the will of the majority of the council prevails without the need for the mayor to vote.
"I think the staff has asked for someone who is very knowledge regarding the current accounting system that we have," said Leake. "I think experience is going to play very heavily on council's decision."
An ad by the town placed regionally around Northern Virginia states that the town manager salary would range from $55,000 to $70,000.
The ideal applicant would be a "proven manager with strong experience in administrative and financial management, interpersonal skills, and strong organizational skills," according to the ad. Such a person would also be required to know how to use the ASYST municipal accounting software.
During the last council meeting earlier this month, Tobias used his time toward the end of the meeting to discuss how staffers, the council and the mayor have run operations in town since Swearingen's departure.
"Quite honestly, there have been some things that have slipped," he said, later recommending staff members should "communicate" with any given council member when they need advice on a particular subject.
"David (Leake) has a full-time job. Everybody here has a full-time job. It's not fair to ask David or any one of us to kind of step in and become the quasi-town manager," added Tobias. "But instead of just saying, 'Okay, David, you've got to handle all of this,' just choose your best person and direct it there. (Carbon copy) everybody because we can talk about this stuff via e-mail. You know, we're not making big decisions... And just try to streamline because there's been a few things dropped that we shouldn't be dropping."
When asked to elaborate on what council members or staffers dropped, Tobias said during an interview that lease negotiations for property owned by the town stood out in particular because "nobody had a real firm grasp of where they stood at the time" once Swearingen left.
Another sore spot to Tobias is construction and renovation for the Old Post Office building on the Town Center Property "grinding to a halt and that's something that we need to get completed."
Once the management for the consignment retailer The Very Thing became interested in opening up shop at the historic Hulfish House on the northeast side of the Town Hall building, construction focus shifted to completing renovations on that building.
That took time and attention away from the Old Post Office, which still needs heating, venting, air-conditioning, electrical and other work done before a tenant can claim occupancy, according to Leake.
He added that the last major activity done to the building came to prepare the building for Superstorm Sandy in the fall of last year.
"There's probably been at least a two-month delay," said Leake.
Town officials are set to meet with structural engineer David Hall this upcoming Thursday so he can "evaluate the progress" of the building "and kind of give us the scope for what's left to do to get the building ready for occupancy," said Tobias.
No deadline exists for when construction must wrap up but Tobias said his "wishful thinking" would be for April 1, "weather permitting."
Leake set a similar goal.
"I would say within three months," said the mayor. "Ninety days."
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