STARKVILLE — Incoming Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Thursday he doesn”t plan to recommend any immediate personnel changes at City Hall, but a six-month evaluation period might be in the works.
With a council-manager form of government, which also is known as the “weak mayor” form, the city”s Board of Aldermen is responsible for voting on personnel issues. Wiseman will be able to make recommendations when he takes office in July, but personnel changes ultimately will be left up to the board.
Considering five of the seven board members will be new during the upcoming term, Wiseman said he will recommend the board give city department heads six months before deciding what — if any — personnel changes should be made.
Wiseman wants to let the new board get acquainted with the city”s department heads, and see what they can do, before the board makes any decisions.
“It is important to me for everyone to have a six-month evaluation period to set the agenda of the new administration, and make a determination of how the personnel that is there right now will be able to work towards that agenda,” Wiseman said.
Plus, the board will be busy enough in its first few months working on the city”s 2009-2010 fiscal year budget, he said.
During the municipal election this spring, a lot was made about potential personnel changes at City Hall. Some of the debate centered on whether or not the city needs a chief administrative officer.
Lynn Spruill has served as the city”s CAO for the past four years and has been responsible for writing many of the policies and ordinances passed by the Board of Aldermen.
Wiseman, during his campaign, said he felt the city needs to keep the chief administrative officer position. He reiterated that point Thursday.
“I believe it is vital for a city the size of Starkville to have a professional chief administrative officer,” Wiseman said.
Like the department heads, Wiseman said he will ask the Board of Aldermen to wait six months before determining whether or not to keep Spruill on board. If Spruill does stay on as CAO during Wiseman”s term, her role and would be re-evaluated, Wiseman said.
“That role would differ to the degree that my management style as mayor is different from Dan”s,” Wiseman said, in reference to Mayor Dan Camp, who lost in his bid for re-election. “What exactly that is is what I want to go through a six-month evaluation process to find out, because each person is different. Each person”s management style is different. It would be important for both of us to figure out if that”s the situation that would work well. And the reality is, until we”ve gone through the evaluation period, we won”t know.”
Republican Marnita Henderson ran against Wiseman in the general election and said she didn”t think the city needed a chief administrative officer. Matt Cox, who lost to Wiseman in the Democratic primary, said he wanted to revise the chief administrative officer”s duties to incorporate more grant writing and community relations, and less policy writing.
Spruill, who jokingly said her job is “on the chopping block,” is in favor of Wiseman”s six-month evaluation period.
“That”s an incredibly reasonable approach because for a new board to come in and start changing the day-to-day operation is problematic for folks who are brand new to the process, and you have essentially five new members,” Spruill said. “I personally believe (the new board) will be very happy with the operation of the city. The department heads are very diligent and knowledgeable people, and I think the new board will be happy with them. Six months seems like a reasonable time.”
Wiseman said he might write some policies or ordinances on his own, though it is still too early to determine how much time he will spend in the drafting process.
“I certainly see myself as I see each of the seven other elected policymakers on the Board of Aldermen,” Wiseman said. “That is our job. As far as actual drafting goes, I would imagine there will be some drafting. The important thing when talking about policy drafting is that the policy drafted, the policy that is passed, shows the wishes of the policymakers themselves — the mayor and the Board of Aldermen.”