Andrew Hyatt Accepts East Ridge Offer To Be City Manager

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fairview, Tn., City Manager Andrew Hyatt on Wednesday morning notified East Ridge officials he has accepted their offer to be city manager.

He said he can start work Oct. 21.

The East Ridge City Council at a special called meeting on Tuesday night voted 3-2 to offer the city manager position to Mr. Hyatt.

The council then voted 4-1 on the package to offer the candidate, who interviewed here twice.

City Attorney Hal North, accompanied by Mayor Brent Lambert, then went to an office to make a call to Mr. Hyatt. When the mayor returned, he told the council and audience, "He essentially said he was going to think about it."

The last time the East Ridge City Council made a city manager offer, former Red Bank city manager Chris Dorsey opted for Signal Mountain instead - though the pay was less.

Mr. Hyatt was also a Signal Mountain finalist, said Councilman Jim Bethune who had urged the council to move forward on the selection. He said, "I just don't think we should let this man get away. I think he's solid. He's head and shoulders above the other finalists."

He added, "I think he's a good fit for our city. He has no agenda. He knows nobody."

Voting in favor were Vice Mayor Bethune and council members Marc Gravitt and Denny Manning. Mayor Brent Lambert and Councilman Larry Sewell said they agreed that Mr. Hyatt was the best of the three finalists, but said they wanted to bring him back again for "face to face negotiations" and to allow citizens to quiz him. 

The offer as formulated by Vice Mayor Bethune was $90,000, two weeks vacation the first year, up to $4,000 in reimbursable moving expenses, use of the city manager's VW Passat, five paid sick days and paid family health insurance under the same terms as other city employees. There is no leave buy-back.

He was to get no severance pay and be under a one-year contract.

There could be turnover on the East Ridge Council with an election on Nov. 4, 2014, it was noted. The city manager "serves at the will of the council."

Mr. Hyatt said he makes $82,000 in his present post.

East Ridge paid prior city manager Tim Gobble $125,000, but Vice Mayor Bethune said that was too much.

Councilman Sewell was the only one to vote against the package.

Finance Director Diane Qualls said there is only enough in the city budget to pay a city manager starting in January. She said the council had voted to shift pay for a city manager over the next few months to higher Christmas bonuses for employees and to keep a part-time front desk employee.  

Vice Mayor Bethune said the money to pay the new city manager through the end of the year could be taken out of the fund balance.

Freida Wheeler has been serving as interim city manager. At one point Councilman Sewell asked, "What's wrong with Freida?" Vice Mayor Bethune said the move was "not against her."

He said it is within her right to go ahead and name a new fire chief and a new police chief from the applicants received within the departments.

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