The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors last week approved a lateral move of District Manager Rob Robinson to a more field-related position while the board searches for a manager with more administrative experience.
At its Wednesday, March 27 meeting ITID President Betty Argue said she had discussed the move with Robinson, who agreed to the position shift, which includes a $5,000 raise.
“We’d like to propose the creation of a new position for Rob,” Argue said. “It is a lateral change to his current position. This position would be called the executive director or chief operating officer. This position would report directly to the district manager, and his main duty would be to focus on the big projects.”
Those projects include culvert repair and replacement, for which an additional crew has been assigned; traffic calming plans; long-term and short-term road planning including the much-discussed R3 road improvement plan; equestrian trails; the Santa Rosa Groves activation and restoration; the Moss pilot project; the L8 outfall improvements; and creation of the 640-acre impoundment area on land donated by GL Homes.
“These are all going to be new responsibilities, and part of our board direction has been to try to keep as many things in-house, because it ends up being cheaper,” Argue said. “Rob would manage those projects, including the crews completing the projects. He would be next-in-line to the district manager and, therefore, able to help in his or her absence, and Rob will still be able to mentor the management team below him.”
Argue added that creation of the new position would take some of the pressure off the district manager to allow the top person to focus on executive and administrative functions.
“It will also lessen the burden on the director of operations and maintenance, so that position can take on more of these large projects,” Argue said. “Most importantly, it will give these critically important projects the focus they need. Placing Rob in this position would allow him to utilize his successful skill set of planning, construction planning and organization.”
Argue added that Robinson would get the $5,000 raise, which would put him at $115,000 a year, and he would retain his vehicle allowance.
“The intent is to keep the position at an upper-level senior management level,” she said, adding that his current contract expires on Sept. 30, 2019, with an option for an extension of up to six months, and Robinson would transition to his new position on Oct. 1.
Argue asked ITID staff to prepare a job description for the new position, amend the organizational chart appropriately and amend the budget to reflect the new position, and also for the human resources attorney to begin the recruitment process for a new district manager.
HR attorney Lara Donlon said there was still discussion as to what Robinson’s new title would be, and that approval of the new contract would waive Robinson’s performance evaluation, which had been scheduled for that evening.
Supervisor Tim Sayre said he would like the contract to reflect that Robinson could transition to the new position sooner than Oct. 1 if the district finds a new manager before then.
Supervisor Jennifer Hager questioned giving Robinson a raise while transitioning him to a position that has conceivably less responsibility, but Argue stressed that the transition is preparing ITID for the major projects mentioned earlier.
“Under the current format, the district is not going to be able to manage everything that we’ve got,” Argue said. “We can’t put that on the director of maintenance and operations, and the district manager has already taken on way more than we were ever doing in the district. With all of these other things coming down the pipeline, the responsibility is still going to be a lot, but it’s going to be shifted into this position.”
Argue noted that ITID spent more than $500,000 for Craig A. Smith & Associates to manage and engineer the Acreage Community Park expansion.
“If you think about all these different projects that we have that are not getting done, traffic calming… that’s been approved for two years, and it’s not getting off the ground because we do not have enough resources being put toward getting things done,” Argue said. “Part of it is management, part of it is staff and resources.”
Argue pointed out that some of the projects would pay for themselves. “We have at least five years of work to do here, and it cannot get done with the current structure we have,” she said.
Sayre said he would like to continue with a contract with Robinson so that he must give a 60-day notice before leaving. “That way, there’s not an abrupt change with him managing all these projects,” he said. “With 60 days, we can transition someone in.”
Donlon said she would need to investigate that further to see if a special district can have more than one contracted manager.
“It’s a little unusual to have someone besides your district manager under an employment contract,” she said.
Robinson said that he had no problem with giving a 60-day notice.
“There is going to be a tremendous amount of work,” he said. “Transitioning anyone who would come into that spot, I would like to bring them up to speed the same way with the new district manager coming in.”
Although the supervisors did not make a final decision on what Robinson’s new title would be, it was determined that he would be directly under the new district manager and be in charge of all field operations.
Supervisor Joni Martin made a motion to approve the transition and advertise for a new manager, which carried 5-0.