During a meeting on Thursday, July 9, the town board voted unanimously to appoint Mike Morgan as interim town manager. Morgan, who retired in 2010 after 18 years as town manager for Weaverville, has spent the decade since filling a series of interim manager spots in towns across the region and has a particularly strong connection to Sylva.
After his retirement from Weaverville, Morgan worked as an adjunct faculty member at Western Carolina University’s Masters of Public Administration program. One of his students was Sylva native Paige Dowling, who graduated in 2012, the same year that she was hired on as Sylva town manager at the age of 25. Dowling and Morgan didn’t just work together in the classroom — they worked together in the real world as well. Dowling’s hire as town manager came following a vacancy during which she served as assistant town manager alongside the interim town manager. That interim manager just happened to be Mike Morgan.
“We really appreciate you coming out of your retirement to help the Town of Sylva once again,” Mayor Lynda Sossamon said during the July 9 meeting.
“It is my honor to do so,” Morgan replied. “Thank you so much.”
In 2016, Morgan led the town of Waynesville in the months between the town board’s decision to terminate Marcy Onieal’s contract and its eventual hiring of current Town Manager Rob Hites. That was Morgan’s fifth interim gig, and last year he finished up another such post in Henderson County’s Laurel Park, where he served as interim town manager from December 2018 until May 2019.
The Sylva board voted July 9 to move $32,100 from fund balance to cover the cost of Morgan’s contract, which provides that he receive $70 per hour given in bi-weekly pay periods. He is to work no more than 24 hours per week with a maximum of eight hours per day.
Morgan’s contract also states that he can be reimbursed for any “necessary and reasonable” lodging, meals and incidentals related to his employment. He will also be provided with a town vehicle or receive reimbursement for miles traveled to and from the town and while conducting town business. The town will reimburse him for use of his personal cell phone as well.
Dowling’s maternity leave began July 12 and is expected to total at least two months, though no specific date is set for her return.