Pelham council moves forward with hiring city manager

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council is moving forward with plans to hire a city manager. At a meeting held Monday, Feb. 20, the council approved the establishment of a city manager position for the city and authorized the hiring of a city manager.

The measure was approved in a 4-1 vote of the Pelham City Council. Councilman Maurice Mercer voted against the resolution.

The city manager will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and internal affairs of the city and will work closely with all of the city’s department heads. That person will keep the council and mayor informed on matters of interest, research issues and policies, and make recommendations to the council as needed.

City Council President Rick Hayes said the person hired will also serve in an economic development capacity.

“This person would ideally improve efficiency and processes,” Hayes said. “Things are going good in Pelham, but there are things that can be done better.”

Cities such as Alabaster, Vestavia Hills, Pell City, Mountain Brook, Talladega and Auburn all have a city manager.

With the hiring of a city manager the role of the mayor will change, Mercer said.

“We have not sat down as a council and outlined the mayor’s role,” Mercer said.

Mercer said the mayor would likely serve as the face of the city, but would most likely still have opportunities to work with the city manager. Mercer said the council will definitely be looking to hire someone who complements the current mayor’s strengths.

“I will do my best to make this work as best I can,” Mayor Gary Waters said at the meeting.

Mercer said he didn’t vote against the resolution because he’s against hiring a city manager. He said his vote was more about procedure. When the council took office in November 2016, it had a responsibility to appoint various positions within the city, one of those being the position of city clerk.

At the time the council decided to hold off on appointing a city clerk because they were considering eliminating the position and including the city clerk’s responsibilities in the job description for the city manager.

Ultimately, the job description for the city manger did not include the responsibilities of the city clerk.

“Now that we have a job description for the city manager and it does not include the responsibilities of the clerk, I feel like we should go ahead and appoint a city clerk since it is the responsibility of the council to appoint that position,” Mercer said.

However, the council agenda did not include a resolution to appoint a city clerk and a motion from Mercer to have the item included on the council agenda died for lack of a second motion. Marsha Yates, who previously held the position for four years, is currently serving as interim city clerk.

“How can anyone plan for a life when they don’t know if tomorrow they’ll have a job,” Mercer said. “It creates an unnecessary burden on the person.”

According to Alabama law, the council has 60 days from the date the resolution was passed to hire a city manager. The council plans to search nationwide to find the right fit for the city. A salary will be negotiated based on applicable experience.