Snead passes on new clerk, grants employee raise

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to select an individual to fill the shoes of someone who has been the public face of a town for 25 years. But that is what the town council of Snead is struggling with.

Councilman Greg Ogles noted, “We can’t hire all [the final four applicants], we’ve got to be patient and none of them can be like the previous clerk. She learned over the past 25 years.”

Councilwoman Ann Sullins added, “Being this [hiring] is vital to payroll and budget, no one interviewed has tackled a job of this magnitude. There is a certain way this [job] should be done.”

Town attorney Brett King told the The Blount Countian that the council had nine or 10 original applicants for the job and the number was trimmed down to seven or eight with the final four appearing before the council on July 22 for public interviews.

Council members asked each of the four applicants questions they felt important to the hiring process and several members of the audience also gave input to the council. After much discussion, the meeting adjourned without a clerk being selected.

On a motion by councilman Tim Kent the council did approve a starting salary of $14.50 per hour for a clerk with incremental raises as the new clerk becomes certified in various aspects of the job.

Attorney King told the council that “ultimately you need to make a motion to hire. You need to try to make a choice tonight,” and explained that the council was suffering “paralysis by analysis.” He said they needed to make a choice and hire subject to a 90-day probationary period which would give the council time to see if the individual would be a good fit for the town and also give time for the new hire to see if she was really committed.

King pointed out that the council has spent time going over applications, receiving “good feedback from citizens” and took time to ask questions of the final four. He said that, in his opinion, social skills would be a very important factor in making the selection as the individual would be forefront to the public and working with other town departments.

Council members Ogles, Dale Snead and Sullins all made motions to hire the applicant of their choice, but each died for lack of a second.

The final attempt came from Ogles who made a motion to hire an applicant with a starting salary of $14.50 per hour on a 90-day probationary period. Snead gave the motion a second, but the vote was two yeas (Ogles and Snead), one no (Sullins), one abstaining (Kent) and Mayor LaShone Price recusing himself.

An exasperated Price announced, “We do not have a town clerk.”

He said he wanted to “let the council do the hiring” (thus recusing himself) while adding, “I think all (applicants) are good ladies. I think we should look at the qualifications and reopen it, let the council vote on what to do. We had some very qualified ladies up here before us.”

Councilman Kent said the hiring process should not be taken lightly. “This is a very important hire and will set the tone for the town over the next 10 years. I want one to be responsible to the public and I want one who is good to the public and a ‘bulldog’ on money. Dealing with the public’s money is very important.”

Attorney King said he would check into the legality of the 2-1-1 vote since one councilman (Phillip McHan) was not present.

In another matter, full- and part-time city employees will see an extra 50 cents per hour raise on their next pay period following a motion by councilman Kent. Snead said the raise should have been done back in November. He abstained due to a relative being an employee of the town.

A motion by Sullins to add all reports to the minutes received full approval from the council. The council meets the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 7 p.m.