By: Lance Gaither
The Richmond City Commission held a specially-called city commission meeting Tuesday to discuss plans to move forward after the resignation of current City Manager Richard Thomas. A bit of a debate ensued as to whether the Commission itself would post job openings or if a search committee would find a new manager. Another issue was whether an interim manager would be appointed, or if a permanent appointment would be made. Many council members preferred to have the Commission itself search and stated that they were against an interim or temporary appointment. Another topic discussed was the starting pay rate for the new manger. The current starting rate for the City Manager position has a starting salary of $90,000 without benefits, which Richard Thomas commented was low.
Mayor Pro Tempore and City Commissioner Jim Newby stated that Richard Thomas has agreed to stay in his position until the new manager feels comfortable in their position. He also stated that a higher pay for the city manager will bring more qualified candidates.
City Commissioner Jason Morgan commented that search committees adds unnecessary time to the search for a replacement manager and that the council members could find a new manager more effectively. He stated that the city commission should find a new manager with a strong sense of urgency. He also stated that a salary of $90,000 is too low if the city wants to have a qualified candidate, and that a qualified manager says for themselves. The previous city manger was found via search committee. The council will make their final decision at the next work meeting.
The resignation of the city manager was unexpected, and was announced Friday in a letter from Richard Thomas to the other City Hall staff.
Mayor Jim Barnes believes the reason for resignation is that the City of Richmond will have nearly a completely new staff after the 2018 election. Jim Newby, however, commented that he believed Thomas wanted to retire.