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Board votes to extend Dorsey’s contract, starts search for permanent city manager

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted this week to extend Interim City Manager Chris Dorsey’s contract while it searches for his permanent replacement.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Bethany Huffman and seconded by Alderman Frankie Dakin.
The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Chris Ford absent.
Dorsey’s contract, which expires in March 2015, will be extended for six months under the same terms. Those include a “30-day pull-out” if a permanent city manager is found before then.
In the meantime, the board will ask The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service to assist in its search.
During a special meeting on Aug. 12, 2013, the board hired Mike Chesney as interim city manager. That was one week after it voted to terminate the employment of Thomas Christie, who had served for seven months as the city’s first professional manager.
At the conclusion of his first report to the board during its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting, Chesney requested that an opening for the permanent position be posted on the city’s Web site.
He said that, anytime he had been involved in searches, he had always relied on a “third party” for advice. So, he contacted MTAS.
Although 22 individuals applied for the position, former Millington resident Ed Haley was among five “serious” ones who were actually interviewed.
The board voted unanimously on Jan 13 to employ Haley. But at a Jan. 27 special meeting, Chesney said he had rescinded his initial acceptance of the job offer for “really good personal reasons.”
When Chesney examined the four other applicants, he discovered that three had already taken positions. So, he was ready to tell the board that he would have to start the process again.
But he got a telephone call from Mike Walker, president of the Tennessee City Management Association. After inquiring about the “status” of the search, Walker mentioned Dorsey.
At its Feb. 17 meeting, the board voted to employ Dorsey as a “long-term interim” city manager. During discussion shortly before the vote Monday night, Alderman Mike Caruthers said the board needs to hire someone who lives and pays taxes in Millington, who either rents or buys a house here and is a “stakeholder” in the city.
“Mr. Dorsey’s done a good job,” he noted, “but he lives in Chattanooga. And he’s made it clear that he’s not going to stay here.”
Huffman agreed that Millington needs a permanent city manager. But she said Dorsey has a right to know what the board is going to do.
“If we find a candidate we want to hire, then we can exercise that 30-day ‘out,’” she noted. “Mr. Dorsey understood that when he took this job.”
Alderman Thomas McGhee said the board should advertise the opening for the permanent position and make sure that MTAS has all the information it needs to assist in the search.
He acknowledged that the “good” candidates for the position may be influenced by the possibility that “many” of the current board members will not be back after the 2016 city elections.
“That information should be provided to the candidates,” McGhee concluded. “So, someone who is interested and does accept the position earlier won’t be surprised when that turnover potentially occurs.”

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