06/11/11 — Mayor: New city manager is a good fit

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Mayor: New city manager is a good fit

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 11, 2011 11:43 PM

Mayor Al King had already overseen the hiring of one city manager during his time as mayor, so when the process began again this spring, he foresaw a lot of discussion as he envisioned each of the seven voting members of the council having his own unwavering opinion about whom should be selected to lead the city.

He was right about the council members' reluctance to change their minds, but it turned out they didn't need to.

Following the interview process each member of the council had written the same name at the top of his list: Kinston's city manager Scott Stevens.

"It was an easy call for me and the other council members," King said. "It was much smoother than we could have expected. He was everyone's No. 1 choice."

After clearing it with Stevens, who wanted to speak with his staff in Kinston before an announcement, King announced the hiring May 24. The proposal was for Stevens to begin work Aug. 8, allowing him ample time to tie up loose ends down Highway 70.

"I encouraged him to take as long as he needs. He wants to make sure he leaves Kinston in as good a condition as when he came. We want to make sure that he, his wife and the city of Kinston can be comfortable," King said.

Stevens' familiarity with the area was one of his positives, King said, but proximity to Goldsboro wasn't his only strength. King said Stevens' understanding of downtown's importance in municipalities will help him transition well into his new role.

"He's doing in Kinston what we're trying ot do here," he said. "He fits in very well with us."

And King anticipates he will fit in for quite some time. In his discussions with Stevens, he said the new manager wants to be in a city the size of Goldsboro.

And although he initially had reservations about considering an engineer for a position that involves so much interaction with department heads, staff and the public, King said his qualms were eased when he met Stevens and found him to be very personable.

"It's his broad experience outside of engineering," he siad. "He didn't allow his engineering background to hold him back as a manager of people. All of his previous experience will help him in Goldsboro."

The transition later this summer should also be aided by the fact that Interim City Manager Tasha Logan will return to her post as assistant city manager, providing some consistency for the city's departments and a pseudo-vacation for Ms. Logan.

"I'm hoping things will settle down a bit," she said, noting that she plans to pick back up on projects she has delegated to department heads, including plans for a teen center.

But until Stevens comes to Goldsboro for good, she said her job will be about preparing for his arrival.

Ms. Logan said approving the city's budget will likely take up most of her time this month, while getting departments acclimated to it will involve most of her weeks in July. She said she will work directly with department heads next month to prepare reports on their key projects for the fiscal year so that Stevens can hit the ground running when he steps into City Hall.

July also will likely involve the interview process for the city's parks and recreation director position, which has been vacant since Ruben Wall left in early spring. Ms. Logan said depending on scheduling Stevens might be directly involved in the interviewing and hiring process, but that she will press forward in the meantime. The hiring of the police chief, however, will be held off completely until the new manager arrives.

And as far as Ms. Logan's future with the city, she said she won't leave the staff she has gotten to know so well over the years although she said it would be easier to leave during the transition period.

"People ask why I do it, and it's the staff that I work with every day," she said. "That's why I still stay here."

And that's music to King's ears.

"I hope she stays," he said. "Tash and Scott would work very well together. They would make a great team."