The Waynesville town board has hired a search firm to help with its hunt for a new town manager.
The board hired Developmental Associates LLC to coordinate the search, which will cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
Town Manager Lee Galloway will officially retire in April, but will stay on until summer so that he can train his successor and help steer the town through the critical spring budget process.
In mid-November, Stephen Straus, president of Developmental Associates, will visit Waynesville to meet with the board, residents and stakeholders. Straus will gather a list of traits and skills that applicants for the town manager position should possess.
The town manager oversees all of Waynesville’s departments, including the police, utilities and finance offices. Although his decisions are subject to approval by the Board of Alderman, he hires all town personnel, directs much of the day-to-day operations and is an opinion leader within the town. He must work with a variety of people, as the make-up of many local committees and boards change.
Because the town manager plays such a vital role, the board made the decision to hire a search firm and solicit public opinion.
“This is not like somebody sitting in a downtown office in Charlotte,” said Alderwoman Libba Feichter. “We are all neighbors here.”
The search firm will advertise the position nationally, though most applications will come from people who live in the state.
Galloway will be hard to replace, however.
“I think we need to realize that we will not find another Lee Galloway,” said Feichter, who has served on the town board for about 12 years.
The town will need to find someone with his or her own special talent, someone who will be a part of the community, she said.
Galloway has served as the town manager for 17 years. He could see advancing economic trouble and was able to lead the town and the board through tough financial times, Feichter said.
He also has the ability to find the perfect person who fits a job, she said, calling it one of his “most phenomenal” skills. Galloway has hired several notable local officials, including Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed and Electric Superintendent Philip Wyatt.
“You can look at who that person hired and figured out what type of person they are,” Feichter said. “He has been a phenomenal source of strength and understanding.”
Once the applicants have been narrowed down to fewer than 10, the remaining will undergo tests intended to reveal strengths and weaknesses. The three or four individuals with the highest scores will complete case studies, and the pool will again be narrowed. The board will then interview the finalists.
The board hopes to hire a new town manager by March, said Galloway.
All five seats on the town board are up for election in November. Feicther is not running for re-election, so there will be at least one new member on the board by the time it makes a decision.