The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors last week extended District Manager Jim Shallman’s employment contract for two years with the option for a one-year extension.
At the March 15 meeting, Supervisor Ralph Bair made a motion to continue Shallman’s contract, which would have expired April 23. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Carol Jacobs, but Supervisor Gary Dunkley expressed his concerns.
“I really feel that the district manager’s responsibilities and positions should have a checks-and-balance system,” said Dunkley, who has had several serious disagreements with Shallman. “During Mr. Shallman’s tenure, he has made mistakes without any bit of accountability. No one oversees his actions, or there’s no penalties for his mistakes, and I do feel that HR should be protected and also report to the board without being penalized.”
Dunkley acknowledged that he probably did not have the votes to seek a request for proposals for a new manager, but said that there should be provisions for penalties if Shallman makes mistakes or does not adhere to his contract.
“It’s not the fault of Jim, but it’s the fault of this board for not really looking at a checks-and-balance system, and this is why we’ve been going through district managers,” he said. “They get to a certain point that they feel that their word is the only word that counts. We have a responsibility to our constituents, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves.”
Jacobs said that she values Shallman. While she admitted that they have had disagreements, they worked through them.
“Jim is the type of guy, because I’m that way as a worker, that I want to do everything because I want it done right,” she said. “Jim wants to do a good job. He needs more help. We need good district operations and maintenance that answers to Jim and is loyal to Jim. We need a new clerk who can do records management and maybe some other things.”
ITID’s previous clerk left last month.
“Jim is taking on too much responsibility,” Jacobs said, which she felt might be why Dunkley thinks Shallman makes mistakes. “I believe that Jim cares about this district. He lives out here, and I would like to see one to two [years] with an option for another year, as long as he gets another good review on his next review. I think if he can get the right people in here to help him, he can get a great review.”
Jacobs added that Shallman probably needs an administrative assistant to help with day-to-day affairs so that he can get out in the field to check on operations.
Bair said that he has probably been the hardest on Shallman since he replaced Tanya Quickel as ITID’s manager.
“I was kind of spoiled with Tanya, and Jim wasn’t as polished as I thought he should be for the job,” Bair explained. “He’s had education, he’s taken on that role and done very well. My opinion of him has risen quite a bit, and that’s why I recommended retention, and I believe he should have a two-year contract with an additional renewal of one year.”
Supervisor Betty Argue said she believes that it is important to state that the board is required by statute to do the manager’s evaluation in public.
“It is absolutely the only time that this board can discuss what our concerns are,” Argue said. “It’s uncomfortable; however, it’s necessary. Since the last meeting, Jim and I have had several really good conversations, and I appreciate that he’s taken the time to do that, despite the fact that it was uncomfortable.”
Argue said she has high hopes for the future.
“I think we came to agreement on some areas that need to be improved on, and Jim is going to set out some of those goals and come up with a plan for being successful,” she said. “I think that Jim’s success is our success, so I want him to be successful. I’m not working against him. It’s not my intent to work against him. My intent is to support him in whatever he needs to do moving forward so that we can be the most efficient and productive that we can be.”
Argue said that she would agree to whatever a consensus of the board is for a contract extension, but added that she still felt they should have put out a request for proposals because she believes competition is a good thing.
Shallman, who earns $104,000 annually, said he was not asking for a salary increase the first year, but asked that his severance period be increased from 30 to 90 days.
Bair’s motion to approve a two-year contract with a one-year option carried 4-0 with Dunkley away from the dais.