The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors on Wednesday called a special meeting for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 to discuss options for the vacant district manager’s position.
ITID has not had a permanent manager since Tanya Quickel resigned in June. Since then, finance department employee Jim Shallman has been serving as acting administrator.
Supervisors interviewed candidates Sept. 3 and were to decide Sept 18 whether to select a manager, narrow the process or start over, but that meeting was canceled.
Supervisor Michelle Damone asked why the manager’s position was not on Wednesday’s agenda.
“We missed our meeting last week [Sept. 18]. We haven’t discussed the district manager’s position. That position cannot wait another month, and it’s not even on the agenda this evening,” she said.
ITID President Jennifer Hager, who set the agenda, explained that Supervisor Gary Dunkley was not present that evening because he was in the hospital. “I think it’s an important decision that Gary should be a part of,” Hager said.
Damone said she appreciated Dunkley’s situation but thought the district should move ahead with a decision.
“This is a district that needs desperately to have a manager, who needs to then hire more people in here. We can’t keep functioning like this.” she said. “It’s in the best interest of the taxpayers of this district that we hire a district manager as soon as possible.”
Hager said she had no issues with the way district business is currently being run.
“Jim is doing a fine job, in my opinion, and I was not entirely comfortable with all those people who interviewed,” she said. “I would go out for consideration of other people.”
Human resources attorney Lara Donlon said that Hager had told her she was not comfortable with the candidates and asked whether the board could extend the interim manager’s position several months, although that decision was not on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.
“It’s not something we can act on tonight, but think about that for the next meeting,” Donlon said.
“This district is understaffed,” Damone said, “specifically in this administration office, whether we want to accept it or not. So now, on this agenda, we don’t even have an agenda item to create going back out to advertise for a district manager, so we are wasting crucial time by not acting on this. I disagree with it not being on this agenda this week. I can’t believe we were going to wait another four or five weeks before we could even act on it.”
“How is it that you feel Jim is not performing?” Hager asked.
“Jim is doing the best job that he can do within his abilities,” Damone said. “And Jim and I have had this conversation openly. He needs assistance. There are things that are not moving through this district the way they are supposed to be. It will show up in your audit report next year.”
Supervisor Ralph Bair also thought Shallman was doing the best he could under the circumstances.
“However, he is understaffed,” Bair said. “He has said that before. The problem is we need to get a district manager or district administrator, whatever you want to call it, in here so we can get more work done. Jim needs to get back to what he was best at and go from there.”
Bair added that he did not see anything wrong with the candidates the supervisors had interviewed already.
ITID Vice President Carol Jacobs asked ITID Attorney Mary Viator why Wednesday’s meeting was being called a special meeting. “If this was a meeting we missed last week, why is it called special?” Jacobs asked.
She also asked why the meeting was at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 6:30. “And why is there no resident comments?” Jacobs continued, adding that there were also no engineering, finance or attorney reports. “What kind of meeting is this? Isn’t this just supposed to be a meeting that we missed last week?”
Viator said it was not a recessed meeting from last week, that the meeting last week had been canceled at the discretion of the president. “It was readvertised and directed that we have a special meeting so that the time-sensitive items from that particular prior board meeting could be considered for this evening,” she said.
“To me, this was all done wrong,” Jacobs said. “Three board members should have been called to cancel that meeting. I know Gary’s out, and that’s unfortunate. I know how Gary feels. He would like it to continue.”
Damone pointed out that the meeting schedule under consideration pushed the next regular meeting to Oct. 23. “We can’t take action on the district manager’s position,” she said. “There has been a suggestion that we throw out the candidates that were there before. By the time we finish up, we’ll be into December.”
Donlon said that from Oct. 6 to 16, she would be out of state.
Hager reiterated that she would prefer to have Dunkley, who is still recuperating, present.
But Damone pointed out that Hager had also advocated throwing out the candidates they had interviewed. “So where is the advertisement?” she asked. “We can’t even advertise to go out and get new applications.”
Jacobs asked whether Dunkley could attend by phone, and Viator said he could with certain restrictions.
Bair asked whether they could set a meeting for the first week in October. After discussion, a special meeting was called for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, with the next regular meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 23.