Originally created 11/19/96

Richmond Commissioners mull hiring sales tax manager



Commissioners are expected to discuss tonight whether to bring in a manager for the Phase III local sales tax projects at an annual salary of $75,000.

But Mayor Larry Sconyers is looking at the possibility of hiring an outside firm to handle the administration of the projects, rather than hiring a new project supervisor.

"If (an outside) firm can come in and show us they will save the taxpayers money, I'm all for that," he said.

Creating a new position would just mean more government, Mr. Sconyers said.

"The whole idea of consolidation was not to grow the government," he said.

The proposal to bring in an outsider has caused grumblings among some city employees who feel the current staff can handle the projects.

"It amazes me that they're thinking about going outside when there's been an impeccable staff in place since the inception of the tax," said Jack Murphy, pre-construction engineer for the suburban division.

But Mr. Sconyers said an outside firm would have expertise in parks and recreation construction projects that is not currently found on the city's staff.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he will oppose hiring an outside project manager until a day-to-day administrator is hired.

"I'd like to get (the administrator's) input," he said.

Today's meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. instead of the usual 2 p.m.

Also at today's commission meeting:

  • The board will discuss Commissioner Rob Zetterberg's resolution that would allow any commissioner to call a meeting to order when a majority of the board is in the room.
  • Mr. Zetterberg said he is tired of waiting for Mr. Sconyers and Mayor Pro Tem Freddie Handy to start meetings on time.

    "I just think we've got to get on with the citizens business," Mr. Zetterberg said. "I can't waste my time, and I think I'm wasting the people's time."

    Commission meetings almost never begin on time, and on some occasions people who have business before the board have waited more than an hour for meetings to start.

    "If we have six people there, I think we ought to start the meeting," Mr. Zetterberg said.

    On occasion Mr. Sconyers and Mr. Handy will be present on time, but not enough commissioners are in the room, so the mayor and mayor pro tem will also leave temporarily.

    Mr. Zetterberg said the other commissioners don't come into the room on time because they know Mr. Sconyers and Mr. Handy won't be there.

    "All I think is we need to be a little more disciplined," Mr. Zetterberg said. "Starting a meeting 15 or 20 minutes late causes me a problem."

    If he sees he's going to be late for a meeting, he calls ahead to say so, he said.

    "I just think it's common courtesy. Maybe it's the military in me. It says you start things on time, and you don't go five hours in a meeting. It's my opinion we should be able to do the citizens business in two hours."

    Mr. Sconyers said the resolution as written will only affect committee meetings where a chairman or vice-chairman must be present to have a quorum anyway. "I don't really see the point," of the resolution, he said.

  • The board will consider appointing an acting public works director to replace Millard Gooding who is retiring at the end of this month, two days after his 80th birthday.
  • The board also will reconsider an earlier vote that changed the point system for promotions in the fire department.
  • The board voted last month to change the system to allow the fire chief more input. The new plan eliminates points for experience and education and gives more weight to the written exam and the chief's discretion.

    In the past, 60 points were allotted to the exam, 15 for longevity, 10 for education, 10 for the chief's evaluation and 5 for the supervisor's evaluation. The new process, approved in a 6-4 vote, allots 80 points for the written exam and 20 to the chief's discretion.

    Commissioner Moses Todd contends the change was pushed through to allow retiring fire Chief Bill Maddox to hand-pick his successor.