Tuesday morning, Statesboro’s council and mayor hired Charles W. Penny to be city manager with a $159,000 annual salary beginning July 1 and thanked retiring City Manager Randy Wetmore for his service.
In the contract approved by a 5-0 council vote, Penny’s starting salary is about $12,000 more a year than Wetmore’s final annual pay. But Penny, who has retirement benefits from North Carolina where he spent 35 years working in managerial roles for city governments and retired in 2017 after six years as Rocky Mount’s city manager, will not be enrolled in Statesboro’s city employee health plan.
“One of the key differences with this particular hire is that they’re coming in and they do not need our health care, which is about a $12,000 difference,” Mayor Jonathan McCollar said after the meeting. “So that’s something we were able to negotiate so it kind of works out to be in and around the same level.”
Also, with Wetmore’s retirement set to take effect May 31, the July 1 start date for Penny leaves a one-month gap. But since December, Public Works and Engineering Director Jason Boyles and Planning and Development Director Frank Neal have been serving as interim assistant city managers.
“We have two highly competent interim assistant city managers, so we feel pretty secure with them being able to get us through that 30-day period. …,” McCollar said Tuesday. “If we see there’s a need during that time period to do something different, then I’m quite sure myself and council can come together and make a decision.”
Like Wetmore’s original contract, Penny’s has no end date but provides six months’ salary as severance pay if the mayor and council dismiss him without cause. He has to give them 45 days written notice if he plans to quit.
In addition to his salary, the city will provide Penny a $700 monthly car allowance and pay an amount equal to 4 percent of the salary into a deferred compensation account. The city will pay for his membership and meals with one civic club of his choice and a budgeted amount for professional memberships and subscriptions.
Penny is allotted 160 hours, or four weeks, paid vacation and leave time up front and would accrue that amount annually “as other salaried employees,” his contract states.
He will receive cost-of-living raises awarded other employees and participate in other city benefits, but not the health, vision and dental insurance programs.
The city also agreed to reimburse him for reasonable and necessary moving expenses. He will be moving here from Rocky Mount with his wife Edith, Penny said in mid-April after Statesboro City Council named him the only finalist for the job.
Penny, 61, was assistant city manager in Rocky Mount for 16 years before his six years and three months as manager there. Like Wetmore, he has a master’s degree in public administration.
Wetmore will have served just two years and ninth months as Statesboro’s city manager, but is now 64 and will have completed almost 41 years employment in management roles with towns and cities across the United States.
From the mayor’s chair Tuesday, McCollar referred to the city manager’s as “the only other hot seat” in city government besides those of the elected officials and acknowledged Wetmore as a career professional.
“On behalf of the city of Statesboro, the people, I would like to say, Randy, thank you tremendously for the work that you’ve done while you’ve been with us, and we’re definitely going to miss you,” McCollar said.
Council members also each said a few words of thanks or compliment, and with the mayor presented Wetmore a plaque prepared by staff members.
As Wetmore elaborated, he has worked for nine cities in six states. He contrasted his career to that of his father, the late Al Wetmore, who spent all of his 36-year career working for the small city of Herington, Kansas. The elder Wetmore started out reading meters, worked his way up and concluded his service with 11 years as Herington’s city manager.
Randy Wetmore first worked for the city of Yankton, South Dakota, and was first a city manager in Sterling, Kansas. He then ranged as far west as Oregon and as far east as Tennessee and Georgia.
Since starting in 1979, he has logged more than 14,600 days and 100,000 hours, with 20 mayors or more, at least 125 council members, about 100 department heads “and thousands of dedicated employees,” Wetmore said Tuesday.
He and his wife, Andrea, moved here from Marshalltown, Iowa. They have an adult daughter in Virginia, and an adult son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren in Indiana. But the Wetmores have no plan to leave Statesboro yet, and he has recently taken on some new volunteer roles, including as chair of the Statesboro Family YMCA board.
Tuesday’s meeting also featured proclamations of upcoming National Public Works Week and National Police Week, recognition for four graduates of the Statesboro Fire Department’s recruit training program and a Government Finance Officers Association award received annually by the city’s Finance Department for its budget work.
All of these recognitions of other employees were appropriate, Wetmore said, for what may have been his final council meeting as manager.
“With all the people that I’ve worked with, in all the different places, I just have a really, really small role in how all this works. …,” he said. “It’s the people that are out there every day: the sanitation guys, it’s the parks guys, it’s the firefighters, the police guys and finance and (human resources) and everybody. Those are the people who provide a day-to-day service that a lot of people just take for granted.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.