The Red Bank City Commission on Tuesday night voted to name Randall Smith of Tallahassee, Fla., as city manager. There was a 3-2 split on the commission on the first ballot, and Mr. Smith eventually won 4-1.
Mayor Monty Millard said he called Mr. Smith after the meeting and he accepted the position and the $80,000 salary.
"He is ready to get back to his home state," said Mayor Millard of Mr. Smith, who currently has a business that helps private sector businesses form government partnerships.
The mayor said Mr. Smith will be on the job Jan. 1 and earlier than that if he is able to sell his consulting business.
Supporting the other finalist, Charles Beal, were Mayor Millard and Commissioner Ruth Jeno. Eddie Pierce, who is taking Ms. Jeno's place on the commission, also spoke in favor of Mr. Beal. Commissioner Jeno nominated Mr. Beal and the mayor gave a second. But Vice Mayor John Roberts and Commissioners Floy Pierce and Ken Welch voted no.
In a second vote, Mayor Millard switched his support to Mr. Smith, but Commissioner Jeno did not. The final vote was 4-1.
Commissioner Jeno said afterward that Mr. Smith's son, Tyler Smith, was a former Red Bank Police officer who was in the faction that got former Chief Larry Sneed fired. She said, "We need a peacemaker and a healer. We've had enough bad publicity."
Vice Mayor Roberts said he checked out the situation with Tyler Smith and said he left the department a year before Chief Sneed was fired.
The five commissioners said it was a close decision between the two finalists and it was a difficult decision.
They said both candidates "got glowing reviews" when their references were checked.
Mayor Millard made the calls concerning Mr. Beal and told the commissioners that he heard nothing
but raves about him from his past experience at both the city of McKenzie, Tn., and from the bank where he was employed for 15 years. Comments were that he is a “top-notch family man”, and that he has had an excellent relationship with the Chamber of Commerce in McKenzie, where he is currently the city clerk and recorder. He was instrumental and successful in publicizing special events for the city, according to his references.
Commissioner Juno said that since he has had experience with most of the duties of a city manager, that she believes it would be an easier transition for him to fill the position in Red Bank. He has a financial background and managerial skills and she feels he would fit in better with the other employees of the city.
The down-side said Mayor Millard, is that McKenzie’s city charter specifies that the mayor does the hiring and firing and has the final say so involving any problem, which is different than Red Bank where the mayor and commissioners have no hand in running the city on a day-to-day basis. In his position in McKenzie, he functioned essentially as a CFO. During his interview, Mr. Beal told the commissioners that in his work with Union Planters Bank, he had personnel experience.
Vice Mayor Roberts reported that he had spoken to two references for Randall Smith, and both had
talked highly about him. One recommendation came from Mr. Smith’s work in Florida, where it was said that he was a “go-getter”, and that he gets his hands dirty to get things done. He has experience with government agencies and has connections with TDOT, which Vice Mayor Roberts found attractive, since Red Bank is facing a lot of maintenance issues. In his interview, Mr. Smith told the commissioners that he had experience in writing grants for monetary assistance. In conclusion, Vice Mayor Roberts was left with the impression that Mr. Smith has strong leadership ability.
It was discussed that Mr. Smith has never worked in the capacity of a city manager and would likely
require more training for that position in Red Bank. It was also mentioned that his present work which is helping private sector companies to do business with government agencies, is basically a “one-man show” with no other employees to manage.
In the preliminary poll at an earlier agenda session, Mayor Millard said he was leaning slightly toward Mr. Beal, as was Commissioner Jeno. Vice Mayor Roberts said he favored Mr. Smith because he believes Red Bank needs a city manager with strong leadership and he believes that is a quality Mr. Smith has. Commissioner Welch said he was leaning toward Mr. Smith because his personality is a little stronger, and Commissioner Pierce said “it doesn’t matter to me”. She likes both and would be happy to hire either of them. No matter what iwas decided, Mayor Millard urged the commissioners to continue to work together and to hold no grudges.
Another discussion in relation to the city manager job at the agenda session was concerning the salary. Mr. Beal has requested compensation in the low $80,000 range. Mr. Smith would like a salary in the low to mid $80,000 range. The city had planned on offering $75,000 for the job, but agreed to an offer of $80,000 if they can get the person that they want.
Finance Director John Alexander has been serving as interim city manager since Chris Dorsey was fired a year ago.