December 13, 2012


Hyde County board appoints new
chairman as interim county manager

By CONNIE LEINBACH



The Hyde County Commissioners, in a special meeting last night, voted to hire board Chairman Barry Swindell of Currituck Township as a paid interim county manager until a new manager is hired.

The commissioners, at their Dec. 3 meeting, fired county manager Mazie Smith, who had been in the position since January 2011.

This most recent action was not on the official agenda, which only listed “public comments,” a “closed session,” and “authorization for signatures on checks.”
 
After the half-hour closed session, Commissioner John Fletcher made the motion to appoint Swindell as interim county manager after a motion that Swindell abstain from voting. 

Swindell will be paid $50 per hour and will work only five or six hours a week, noted Fletcher today.

Fletcher, a retired lawyer, also said that, “as far as I know,” it is the county can legally pay an elected official as an employee.

“This will be a whole lot cheaper than when we hired the last interim manager who cost us $3,000 a week,” Fletcher continued.

He was referring to David Smitherman of Winston-Salem, who was interim county manager in 2010. 

“The volume of work in Hyde County only needs someone full-time three days a week.”

When asked if the commissioners had considered in their closed session appointing a current county employee as interim manager, Fletcher would say only that “it was discussed.”

Swindell today said that things have been running smoothly in the last eight days.

“In theory, this is just a 15- to 20-hour a week job until we get a new manager,” he said. 

Swindell, a general contractor by trade, also noted that the general statute allows for an elected commissioner to be appointed acting manager with pay.

An Internet search of the North Carolina general statutes shows that general statute 153A-84 governs Interim county managers:  “Whenever the position of county manager is vacant, the board of commissioners shall designate a qualified person to exercise the powers and perform the duties of manager until the vacancy is filled.  The board may designate the chairman or some other member as interim manager; for the interim the chairman or member shall become a full-time county official and the board may increase his salary pursuant to G.S. 153A-28.”

G.S. 153A-28 says, in part: “In addition, if the chairman or any other member of the board becomes a full-time county official, pursuant to GS. 153A-81 or 153A-84, his compensation and allowances may be adjusted at any time during his services as a full-time official, for the duration of that service.”

General Statute 153A-81, that governs administration in counties having managers, says, in part: “…Confer upon the chairman or some other member of the board of commissioners the duties of county manager. If this is done, the chairman or member shall become a full-time county official and the board may increase his salary pursuant to G.S. 153A-28.”

The commissioners have posted the county manager job with an application deadline of Jan. 15.  After that time, the commissioners will review the applications.

“Hopefully, by mid-February or early March we’ll have a full-time manager going into budget season” he said.

Swindell said he will travel to Ocracoke to attend meetings as warranted.

“If any issues come up that need to be addressed, I will come over,” he said.

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