Charles City Council takes first steps towards replacing outgoing City Manager | Journal-news
CHARLES TOWN — With the news that City Manager Daryl Hennessy will step down next month, Charles Town City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to begin the process of finding someone to replace him.
As a result, the personnel committee will now be tasked with drafting a search plan similar to that used by the city in 2017, when Hennessy was initially hired. As for the timing, council member Michael George noted Tuesday evening that he hopes the wheels will be in motion by the time the council meets again on Feb. 7.
“We will probably start advertising on February 15 if we get approval,” he explained. “Last time we had it open for two months but Daryl said it was probably a bit long. If all goes well in May we will have someone on staff – only if we start to the next board meeting and do 30 days of advertising. We could potentially make an offer in mid-April.
The last time the city searched for a city manager, George noted that it received over 100 applications. Although the city didn’t spend a lot of money on research in 2017, George floated the idea of potentially hiring a research firm to fill Hennessy’s shoes.
Also Tuesday night, the council voted 6-2 to authorize a one-time payment of up to 80 hours for city employees who accrued more than 200 hours of annual leave and were unable to use it. The reasoning behind not being able to use it is because it is understaffed and, in some cases, overworked.
The issue hit the Charles Town Police Department harder than other city employees, Hennessy said before the council vote. Meanwhile, Police Chief Chris Kutcher appealed to the advice that he had done his best to ensure his staff used their holidays on time, but in some cases that was simply not possible .
“As a chef, I was very diligent in trying to get these guys out,” Kutcher said. “It’s a real challenge. Recently we had two sick people and another with a death in the family. Now I have to find three people to come to work. I was able to bring in two to fill the shift. Managing this is very difficult. We must find a solution. We are essential employees and a 24 hour operation.
“Currently, we have to rely on outside agencies to support us,” he continued. ” I do not like it. I want us to be independent. I don’t know what the answer is. We are there with everyone.
Council members Elizabeth Ricketts and Jeff Hynes voted against the one-time payment, with the latter expressing concern about finding a long-term solution.
“The company I work for is very different,” he noted. “They say PTO management is part of your job. You can defer five days, but they must be used in the first trimester or they are sold out. It’s a Fortune 500 company, and I understand it’s not quite the same in the private sector… But how are we not back here in six months? I don’t think we should make any permanent changes until we get our staff where they should be.
Although Mayor Bob Trainor acknowledges the problem is not “something you can fix tomorrow,” he said he believes the city is making progress toward solving the problem. Hennessy, meanwhile, warned that he doesn’t believe the city can extricate itself from the problem due to budget constraints and the amount of services it offers. A potential solution could eventually be to cut city services, he said, but that was just one of many options the city could explore in the future.
Finally, the city heard from Steve Allen, director of the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Among the things his presentation touched on was the value of declaring a state of emergency whenever the city finds itself in crisis.
“Sometimes you have to declare a state of emergency so that resources are easier for the state to free up,” he explained. “If you make a habit of declaring it, we have up to 30 people in the emergency operations center who can help you.”
The next city council will be a special meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday. Its focus will be to hear citizen feedback and discuss local fundraising procedures when it comes to how best to use American Rescue Plan Act funds.