Jim Crosby, who had been serving in an interim role since October, was the city council’s unanimous pick to become Piedmont’s permanent city manager.
“I find it very exciting and challenging,” Crosby said about becoming the permanent city manager. “We have a lot of challenges facing us but I believe we can get moving on some of the big issues we need to address.”
Crosby has served in city manager positions with the cities of Yukon and Norman, two communities that have experienced rapid growth over the past few decades. It was that experience that Mayor Valerie Thomerson said made him the council’s top pick.
“We actually interviewed four people total, one of those being Crosby,” Thomerson said. “The other candidates were strong in the sense that every single one of them had city manager experience. They had been city manager somewhere else. But (Crosby) had more years than anyone else had and the fact that he had already been in cities that were smaller with exploding population and exploding economic development means he has been where we want to go.”
Thomerson also said she believed Crosby had more previous experience than any former Piedmont city manager.
“If you look at former city managers, we have never had anyone with this kind of experience,” she added. “That’s paramount for us moving forward.”
The city manager’s position became vacant last year after the council voted to remove Clark Williams.
During a meeting last week the council voted to make Crosby the permanent city manager effective immediately but is still drawing up final details of an employment contract that is expected to be approved later this month. Thomerson said there were several issues that needed to be determined but did not see a problem moving forward.
“We are looking at providing a 30 day severance, which (Crosby) is requesting,” Thomerson said. “That would be good because we didn’t want it to cost the city an arm and a leg if a future council decided to remove (Crosby).”
Williams’ contract with the city provided him with a six month severance package upon his firing.
Thomerson also said the pay range for Crosby will most likely fall in the high $60,000 to lower $80,000 range but did not envision a problem coming to an agreement, which Crosby agreed with.
“I don’t think I am going to be asking for the moon,” he said. “I think it will be a very sensible contract and very appropriate.”
Moving the city forward
Crosby becomes city manager during a time of political turmoil in Piedmont. Several hot button issues have been debated on by the city council and an upcoming election season is expected by some to be emotionally charged, as was the case last year. However, Crosby said he believed the council could work together and he is planning to make communication a priority in an effort to move forward on key issues.
“I think the city council is more than willing to work together,” Crosby said. “The communication is the important part. You have to let each other know your true position on items. There have been some misunderstandings (in the past) but if they had just been able to sit down and talk it over I think a lot of these problems would have gone away.”
Crosby said he is planning to hold public meetings for the council to learn about important issues without being asked to vote. Citing water needs, roads in need of repair and the budget as big issues facing the council, Crosby said he wanted to hold meetings where council members could ask questions and avoid last minute cram sessions before council meetings.
“There are a number of items that we just need to discuss without voting,” Crosby said. “I don’t think people respect sometimes the problems the council has. It’s a thick council packet, they meet once a month and they have a couple of days to cram on items before meetings. If we can let them know ahead of time I think (regular) council meetings can be more efficient.”