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Council to hold special meeting for city manager search

Suffolk City Council will hold a special meeting to consider city manager candidates at 2 p.m. March 24 at City Hall.

Council hired Developmental Associates of Chapel Hill, N.C. to conduct the search after former City Manager Patrick Roberts announced last September that he was resigning and taking another job in North Carolina.

Al Moor has been serving as interim city manager since Oct. 3. He had been named interim deputy city manager last July.

According to a Developmental Associates brochure advertising the position, the application review process began March 11.

Finalists for the position are slated to take part in virtual interviews and skill assessments April 29 and April 30, which will involve three to four hours over the two-day period. After that, there will be interviews with Mayor Mike Duman and council.

During the process leading to Roberts’ hiring in 2015, council cut the search short and hired him from among 25 applicants. At that time, Roberts had been serving as the interim city manager and was hired at a $170,811 salary with $12,000 deferred compensation annually and a $700 monthly automobile allowance.

In July 2019, Roberts received a two-year contract extension through June 30, 2021, along with a 5% raise from council, putting his yearly salary at $197,108, with a deferred compensation contribution of $16,000 paid annually.

The salary hiring range is $190,000 to $225,000. The ad for the position notes that base salary is negotiable based on experience and qualifications, and the position requires that the person be a city resident within 12 months of being appointed.

The brochure Developmental Associates created for the opening outlines the key priorities sought in a candidate, needed qualifications and background about the city and the position, touting its AAA bond rating, which it notes was “attributed in part to Suffolk’s strong management and financial policies and the consistent ability to maintain balanced budgets as well as a robust economy.”

The chosen candidate would lead a city staff of about 1,500 employees, along with a deputy city manager, chief of staff and directors of 24 departments, and would inherit a current fiscal year 2020-2021 budget of nearly $651 million and a tax rate of $1.11 per $100 of assessed tax value.

Council last month filled the city assessor position by appointing Holt W. “Billy” Butt to the position.

The city has several high-ranking positions currently filled on an interim basis. Besides Moor, Maj. Alfred “Al” Chandler is the interim police chief, Paul Retel is the interim director of public utilities, Kevin Hughes is serving as the acting deputy city manager, Gregory Byrd is the acting director of economic development, William Hutchings Jr. is the interim city attorney and Azeez Felder is the acting chief of staff.

The city will soon have another position to fill, as Planning Director David Hainley will be retiring at the end of this month. Hainley came to Suffolk in 2016.