McMinnville officials voted unanimously Tuesday night to begin steps to find a new city administrator, while Mayor Jimmy Haley addressed the board about the request for him to be removed as interim city administrator.
Vice Mayor Ben Newman made a motion to contact the Municipal Technical Advisory Service for its assistance in locating a new city administrator to replace Haley as interim.
“I make a motion to pass a resolution to authorize the city recorder to contact MTAS to take the necessary steps to initiate a search for a city administrator,” said Newman. “I understand MTAS has that service they provide to subscribers and we are subscribers.”
Alderman Ken Smith asked, “What are you looking for in a city administrator?”
Newman says the first step is initiating the process with MTAS.
“Once we contact MTAS, they will talk with us and find out exactly what we are looking for. We may have to have a joint committee meeting with all board members or we can call a meeting of the board to determine that. We just need to initiate the free service of MTAS. After we do that, we can figure out what they need from us in defining the criteria.”
The motion passed unanimously with Newman, Haley, Smith, Mike Neal, Jimmy Bonner, Rick Barnes and Billy Wood voting for it.
Haley, who has served as interim city administrator since Aug. 30, is involved in an ongoing controversy after he offered Fire Chief Keith Martin four months severance to resign as a way to ease complaints he heard from firefighters about policy changes instituted since Martin was hired April 1.
The offer was made in late September. Since that time, Haley has been criticized by at least one board member for his “lapse of judgment” in speaking to the Southern Standard about his severance offer and for creating a lawsuit by possibly violating the fire chief’s civil rights.
An executive session was held Tuesday night. While those meetings are privileged between officials and city attorney Tim Pirtle regarding legal issues facing the city, speculation is the meeting was about ongoing negotiations between Pirtle and Martin’s attorney with the firm Chambliss, Bahmer & Stophel of Chattanooga.
Prior to the vote to begin the search for a new city administrator, Haley read a statement to the board that included an apology for what he states was a misunderstanding.
“Consequently, if I have erred in your eyes, then I apologize for the misunderstanding. I ask God every day to give me direction. I never act hastily and always do my homework. I keep an open mind and consult experts when needed. My door is always open for fact-finding and opinions, but you must realize that everything cannot be discussed or made public every time it is asked.”
The declaration also included criticism for board members who take misunderstandings and use the media as an “outlet for frustration.”
“As a board, we must stay united despite the differences of opinions. Misquotes, misunderstanding and misinformation should never make headlines. The media should never be an outlet for frustration.”
He adds, “As mayor, I have never gone to the media in an attempt to make anyone or the city look bad. It is my purpose to make McMinnville look its best.”
Haley says he has contacted MTAS to put together a retreat for board members to work on team building.