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BOMA discusses Town administrator search

SEVIERVILLE — Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed recruiting a new Town Administrator at the group’s visioning retreat, Saturday, Aug. 15; coincidentally, former Town Administrator Dan Olson’s last day employed by the Town.

Melanie Purcell and MTAS would direct an effort that would result in physical interviews with Administrator applicants by mid-November.

The Board outlined what they would expect from a Town Administrator, and the characteristics they wished to see in applicants.

“I want a manager, not just someone who makes all decisions to be executed by staff,” Alderman John Williams said.

Characteristics for the future Administrator included “empowering” “honest/ethical,” “analytical,” “respectful,” “decisive” and “creative.”

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said she wished to see someone who was “diplomatic,” and a consensus builder.

“Have solutions that everyone can deal with,” she said.

Alderman Bob Markli emphasized flexibility: “he’s able to be a little creative.”

“It implies open-mindedness,” Williams said.

Among areas of expertise, the Board emphasized good communication skills, experience in a similar size/age town and experience with economic development and strategic planning.

Along those same lines, the Board discussed how they should be involved in Town goings-on.

“I would be very unhappy to micro-manage the Town,” Williams said.

“It’s a chain-of-command kind of action. These are trained professional staff,” Alderman Jeff Elliott said.

“I think we’d all agree. …. I don’t think that’s our role as a Board anyhow,” LaMarche said.

The Board also discussed shortcomings in communication between the Board and Town staff in recent months.

“Everybody should get the same message, a full and complete message,” Williams said.

Purcell recommended the Board push a “funnel” approach to communication, in which all interaction between Town staff and the Board be directed through the Town Administrator.

That process keeps everyone in the loop and prevents redundant questions, Purcell said.

“Honor the funnel on both sides so there is a clear line of communication. … Staff should not be calling aldermen,” Purcell said.

If there is a problem between a staff person and the Town Administrator that is not solved after addressing it, as in recent grievances and lawsuits reported in farragutpress, the contact person would be the Mayor.

This funnel system, in addition to providing clear communication, also would prevent confusing (and expensive) conversations with the Town Attorney.

“Only certain people are authorized to incur legal expenses billable by the Town,” Purcell said. That internal control is a Governmental Accounting Standards Board requirement, Purcell said.


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