by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press
While a set timeframe has not been established, Kinston city officials hope to select a permanent city manager within the next 30 days.
“My preference would be that we move within the next 30 days, but we haven’t put a definite timeline on ourselves either,” Mayor B.J. Murphy said Friday.
Councilman Joe Tyson stressed the need to take as much time as possible to select the right person.
“We are not taking this lightly,” Tyson said. “We have taken an inordinate amount of time, going over the resumes, talking with people, double checking.”
“We realize this is very important for the city, and we’re going to take as long as possible to get the right selectee for the city of Kinston,” he continued.
Bill Ellis has served as Kinston’s interim city manager since July 1; he took over after former City Manager Scott Stevens resigned to become Goldsboro’s city manager.
In less than three months on the job, Ellis has dealt with Hurricane Irene and its aftermath, widespread power outages caused by the hurricane, developed methods to deal with crime and clean up neighborhoods and transportation issues.
“I think that Ellis has done a super job as an interim in his position, in facing the aftermath of the hurricane and everything else,” Tyson said. “He’s well-versed in the knowledge of Kinston.”
Despite a performance many in the city regard as stellar, Ellis has not applied for the permanent city manager’s position — the City Council and the mayor stated when they began their search that anyone who takes the interim position could not apply for the permanent slot.
Tyson said that helped spur a greater pool of applicants for the job — about 50 people initially applied.
“If you allow the interim person to also apply, a lot of people will assume you’re just going to move that interim person up, so why even apply,” Tyson explained.
Ellis said Friday he had not applied for the permanent position and plans to return to the position of Kinston/Lenoir County Recreation and Parks director, which he has held since 1996, once a permanent manager is selected.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute of it; I have learned a lot and tried to do the best job I can possibly do.”
Ellis said it had been a “privilege to serve the community” as interim manager.
“We’ve got great city department heads and a great staff, and it’s been an honor to be able to lead them,” he said.
Murphy and Tyson said there have been some very good candidates who have applied for city manager.
“We had around 50 candidates to initially apply,” Tyson said. “We were able to eliminate a number of those; we think that the ones were are looking at now are qualified, and I think out of that list we have now we will able to pick someone that is highly qualified and will be able to represent the city well.”
City officials are not at liberty to give out names of applicants, though. Applications have been discussed during closed sessions, because the process is considered a personnel matter.
“It would not be fair to the applicants, and according to state general statutes for closed sessions, we’re not permitted to do that,” Tyson said.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.