January 03, 2013
According to a new timeline for the county manager search, Guilford County
commissioners will hold a closed session at the Board of Commissioners retreat on Thursday, Jan. 10 to review candidate applications, and the same timeline calls for the county to hire a new manager by Friday, March 1.
Current County Manager Brenda Jones Fox is retiring on Thursday, Jan. 31. So far, however, the board's only real movement toward finding Fox's replacement has been hiring a search firm in September, which then conducted individual interviews with the commissioners who served on the previous board.
None of the commissioners – old or new – has seen a single application and the board has never held any in-depth discussions on the matter.
So getting a new manager by March 1 might seem like an optimistic goal, but several commissioners said this week that the county needs to move swiftly, since commissioners, department heads and the next manager have to start putting together the 2013-2014 county budget soon.
The previous board hired the search firm of Springsted Inc., based in St Paul, Minnesota, but then put everything else on hold since a new board was coming in.
At the beginning of December, the Board of Commissioners underwent a radical transformation when it lost six long-time commissioners, gained four new ones, and went from being a Democratically controlled board to one controlled by Republicans.
That major reset of the board was followed by the Christmas holidays, and the search for a new manager has been on the back burner despite the fact that Fox will be gone in a matter of weeks.
Since the commissioners almost certainly won't hire a manager by the time Fox steps down, Guilford County
will need an interim manager, and several commissioners said they believe Assistant County Manager Sharisse Fuller, who also serves as the county's human resources director, is the obvious choice.
Some have also suggested that Guilford County
Budget Director Michael Halford would be a good choice for interim director.
According to the timeline, the board will hear a public report from the search committee at the annual retreat, and then, at the end of the retreat, the commissioners will "review potential candidates' applications/resumes in closed session."
The timeline, which was sent last week from the county's Human Resources Department to the commissioners, also states: "Commissioners select new County Manager – Tentatively, by March 1, 2013."
According to Fuller, Guilford County
began running want ads on various websites on Friday, Dec. 14. Presumably, the search firm has also been contacting potential candidates.
The ad posted by the county's Human Resources Department states that Guilford County
is seeking "a results oriented County Manager with excellent management skills and a high level of integrity and vision."
Minimum requirements for the position are a bachelor's degree in public administration, business administration, finance or a related field. A master's degree in one of those fields is desirable as well according to the ad.
The ad also states, "Candidates should possess a substantial amount of public and/or private sector management experience as a manager, deputy or assistant in a comparably sized or larger city or county or business environment with more experience preferred."
In addition, it states the county is seeking candidates with a successful track record in "public finance, succession planning, community building, economic and community development, working with and understanding the needs of existing businesses, building Board and community consensus, assessing organizational effectiveness and building performance based organizations."
The salary for the new county manager is listed as "negotiable" and as "competitive in the regional marketplace." The ad states the salary will be based on qualifications and experience.
Fox currently makes $183,200 a year as the county manager.
A confidential October report from the search firm to the commissioners stated that, based on its interviews with Guilford County
commissioners, the next county manager could expect a salary of between $150,000 and $180,000 a year.
The ad posted on Dec. 14 also states that the new manager must reside in Guilford County
or move to the county within an agreed upon period of time after being hired.
The position has a status of "open until filled" with "resumes received by January 7, 2013 receiving priority consideration."
The timeline states that in late January the commissioners will schedule interviews with prospective candidates and, in February, follow up interviews will take place. The timeline states that "Recruitment efforts continue until position is filled."
There has been some concern among county employees that Fox might attempt to stay on after Jan. 31, until a new manager is in place. However, that won't happen for many reasons – most importantly, serious opposition to that prospect on the Board of Commissioners.
It's not known if Fuller or Halford will apply for the county manager job. In December, Fuller said she was quite content to finish out her career as Guilford County
's assistant manager, and, according to several sources, Fuller has talked about the possibility of retiring from county government in the near future. Fuller consistently plays her cards very close to her chest in all things, so it's very hard to know what she intends to do.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw said she hopes Fuller is willing to serve as the interim manager until a new manager can be found.
It's worth noting that, in December of 2008, when Fox was made interim county manager, Fox told The Rhinoceros Times that she had absolutely no interest in being the next county manager – yet she ended up holding that job for four years.
Shaw said that, though there hasn't been much discussion of the search to date, everyone can expect to hear a lot of talk on that subject very soon.
"We've got to get moving on that and get it going," she said.
Shaw said the commissioners will have a much clearer picture of the situation in a week.
"It will be discussed at the retreat," Shaw said. "We will see the applications and get an idea where we stand."
Shaw said Commissioner Jeff Phillips was clearly anxious to get started on the search. Shaw said Phillips had recently asked her to see the resumes but she informed him that the county hadn't been provided with any yet.
Phillips confirmed that he's indeed eager to move forward with the search. He said he made it known to Shaw that he's willing to help in any way he can.
According to Phillips, when he saw the timeline, he wanted the board to move more quickly than proposed.
"My thoughts were we need to pick the pace up," Phillips said. "I would prefer not to be looking in March or April."
Phillips even talks like someone who thinks the county could have its selection made by the time Fox leaves at the end of January.
"Sooner is better," he said....continued on page 2