Dorsey Is City Manager Finalist For Both East Ridge And Signal Mountain

Monday, May 6, 2013
Denny Manning and Chris Dorsey
Denny Manning and Chris Dorsey
- photo by Deb Martin

Chris Dorsey, former city manager for Red Bank, is a finalist for open city manager posts at both East Ridge and Signal Mountain.

Honna Rogers, outgoing town manager at Signal Mountain, said the finalists to replace her include Mr. Dorsey, Tracy Baker and David Rutherford. Tracy Baker is the assistant city administrator for Sevierville, Tn., and David Rutherford is the city manager of McMinnville, Tn. The salary range discussed was $78,588 to $90,376. Ms. Rogers' salary is $84,178.

A reception is set Tuesday for the public to meet the three Signal finalists.

Meanwhile, the East Ridge City Council on Saturday night was ready to hire Mr. Dorsey on the spot, but he said he had not expected things to move so fast. Several council members at the time speculated that he might also be a finalist for the Signal Mountain opening, and he would not comment on the speculation. He would only say he was still interviewing with another city.

Mr. Dorsey said he had expected to come to the unusual Saturday night session and be interviewed along with two other finalists. But the other two dropped out, leaving him as the sole contender.

After he fielded a number of questions and following a long recess, Vice Mayor Jim Bethune made a motion to offer Mr. Dorsey $120,000, three weeks vacation and a $350-per-month car allowance, He called the candidate "a perfect fit for our city."

However, Mr. Dorsey said he would need to follow through on a commitment to finish the interview process with another city. He also noted that Councilman Larry Sewell was absent. He said he would not want to be hired where he did not have the approval of all the council members.

He asked to have time to consider the offer until the next council meeting on Thursday night.

Vice Mayor Bethune withdrew his motion, saying, "He's not ready to accept the job."

Councilman Denny Manning was so high on the candidate that he first said he would not withdraw his second to the motion, but later he did.

Mr. Dorsey said he would not want to win the job "by default," but Interim City Attorney Hal North said that was not the case. He said the council had other options, including hiring an interim city manager until the city charter could be changed.

Mr. Dorsey was asked what happened to cause him to be fired in a  surprise 3-2 vote at Red Bank. He said a motion was made out of the blue at the close of a meeting to dismiss him. He said the action left him "in total shock."

He said he would not change "99.9 percent" of his actions at Red Bank, though he said he "might change one or two small things."

The audience was given a chance to quiz him, and citizen activist Frances Pope asked his stance on the Open Records Act. He said sometimes requests can take time to complete, but he said it should be done in a timely fashion.

Mimi Lowrey asked if he would be "intimidated" by any council member, and he said, "No, I'm not a yes person." 

Mr. Dorsey said he would need to give a month's notice to Pasco County, Fla., where he is budget director. He said he is the middle of the budget process there.

His family, including children 11, 8 and 6, still live here and he commutes. He said his children are happy in the Hamilton County Schools.


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