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Council picks Parker
3-2 vote fills city manager job
Frank Parker mug
Frank Parker

A divided City Council determined Tuesday that the City of Statesboro need look no farther than city hall for a permanent solution to its vacant city manager position.
    With a 3-2 vote, Frank Parker, who had for eight months served in an interim role, was approved as Statesboro’s full-time city manager.
    Parker, who took the reigns when Shane Haynes was forced to resign in September 2010, was awarded by Mayor Joe Brannen and members of council the position effective immediately at an annual salary of $90,000 with no benefits.
    “I am pleased,” said Parker, after hearing the formal announcement. “I have served as an interim city manager for eight months and think we have done some real good things. I look forward to serving in the position of city manager.”
    Deemed a cost-saving, temporary replacement to help stabilize city issues, Parker was originally hired at the cost of $3,000 per month and signed to a rolling 30-day contract. After a second 30 days serving the post, Parker was offered a $1,000 raise and six-month contract effective beginning in December. With his contract Sunday, some members of council decided to make the local real estate developer and former city councilman a permanent fix.
    Councilmen Will Britt, John Riggs and Gary Lewis lifted their arms to signify approval of Parker, who according to Britt, has been a positive force within the city government.
    “The choice to do this, instead of the option of hiring a firm to search for a candidate, comes after talking to staff members, and people who have been here for many years, that feel [Parker] has done a great job,” said Britt. “Staff seems very pleased with the direction of Frank Parker, they like the idea of being able to speak with him freely and the exchange of ideas has gone over positively.”
    “I believe the decision was a tough one to make, but the job [Parker] has done since he has been in office has been incredible,” he said.
    “We’re glad to have you with us today,” said Lewis, who has consistently supported the idea of Parker being given the job.
    Despite the rave reviews offered by Britt, two members of council expressed displeasure regarding the city’s decision to abstain from conducting a job search to evaluate qualified applicants.
    “I have consistently asked for a search and will ask one more time for council to take that into consideration before you do what you do,” said Councilman Travis Chance, prior to the vote. “The citizens want a search. If Frank [Parker] turns out to be the best candidate, fine, give him the job. But no search was done because this was already predetermined. I hope he does what is best for the city.”
    “I feel strongly that we should conduct a search and now is the time to do it,” said Councilman Tommy Blitch. “Frank [Parker] has done an honorable and consistent job, but I need to know a little more about who’s out there before I vote to give a contract.”
    According to Parker, his focus will remain on issues already pressing.
    “There are a number of issues I’ll be looking to address and resolve alongside City Council and staff going forward,” he said. “We still have redistricting, a new charter and finalizing the budget for 2012. There are a number of issues and plenty to do.”
    In regard to Council’s mixed feelings about offering him the job, the new city manager doesn’t believe it is a negative reflection on his work.
    “With this council, I’m not sure any decision would be unanimous,” he said. “I’m satisfied.”
    Parker will be paid about $25,000 fewer than that of former City Manager Shane Haynes, who was provided an $115,000 yearly salary and additional support.
   
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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