By Jim Young
After interviewing six men from Crossville to Maine, a majority of the Crossville City Council picked a city manager already living here and ready to go to work almost immediately.
Using a paper ballot to make the selection, it took two rounds of ballots to select Jeffery Skidmore as the new city manager of Crossville pending a background check and final negotiations on salary and benefits.
The balloting for the city manager was discussed by city attorney Ken Chadwell who said the method was not widely used but was allowed by statute. Each ballot contained the six names of the candidates and council marked their choice and signed their name, making it a public vote. After the ballots were collected, city attorney Chadwell read the votes aloud and the votes were certified by the city clerk, Sally Oglesby.
Chadwell made sure the council understood that the first candidate to receive three votes was the council's choice. In addition, if there were tie votes, the ties would remain and on the next round they would be the only names in contention.
On the first round of voting, the votes were: Councilman Jesse Kerley for Aaron Elmore, Councilman Pete Souza for Jeffery Skidmore, Councilman Danny Wyatt for David Rutherford, Councilman George Marlow for Elmore and Mayor J.H. Graham for Skidmore.
In the second round of voting votes could only be cast for Skidmore and Elmore with the remaining candidates out of the running.
The second round of balloting included three votes for Skidmore by councilmen Souza, Wyatt and Mayor Graham. Councilmen Marlow and Kerley voted for Elmore.
Following the vote there was some discussion of a motion by councilman Souza about retaining interim city manager Jack Miller for up to eight weeks at the discretion of the new city manager to help with the transition. Several questions arose, including a comment by Miller that he would be willing to stay but perhaps a shorter time. Following further discussion, Souza tabled his motion.
In other action during the special-called meeting, the council agreed to a financing package not to exceed $4 million necessary for the funding of the downtown improvement project. The council was presented with two options, a Rural Development financing package at approximately 38 years with a fixed rate of 3.5 percent interest or a loan from the Tennessee Municipal League (TML) bond fund for a shorter 25 years at a variable rate that starts out at 1.05 percent interest but would fluctuate.
The motion to use the TML bond fund for the financing was approved by council with only councilman Kerley opposed.
The council also approved an amendment extending the Safe Routes to Schools program grant through August 2015 with no further extensions allowed. The project is ongoing. A contract with Tennessee Department of Transportation for the reconstruction of Cox Avenue as part of the CoLinx expansion project was also approved as well as the application of a grant for $15,000 toward a police patrol car.
City manager appointee Jeffery Skidmore was a finalist for the city manager position during the last manager search and has spent his working life in Florida. Skidmore explained during his interview last week that several years ago he and wife started looking for a place to eventually retire and discovered Crossville on the web. After several visits, Skidmore said he and his wife found property they bought and while he continued to work they would come to Crossville as often as possible.
Skidmore added that late last year he and his wife decided they wanted to move to Crossville permanently and in February this year Skidmore resigned his job with Weston, Florida and came to Crossville. He added that when he moved to Crossville he expected to begin a job search but had no idea that a short time later Crossville manager Bruce Wyatt would resign.
Skidmore told the council that he served as assistant city manager, chief operating officer for Weston, Florida, a town of 65,000 people with a budget of over $100 million annually. When asked about his leadership style, Skidmore described himself as a “problem solver” and someone who “leads by example.”
Discussing economic development, Skidmore told the council that he felt the downtown project was a step in the right direction. He added that it could help with recruitment of business and industry adding, “You are on the right track.”
Skidmore discussed how he saw the city operation, describing it as an hour glass shape with citizens at the top, the council next and the city manager at the narrowest part. Below the narrow part was city department heads and then city employees. He explained that information and directions should not pass back and forth through the narrow part without going through him.
When asked why the council should hire him, Skidmore answered his 35 years of experience, starting at an entry level position and working his way up. He said that Weston was a very respected city, ranked highly. He said he had much experience with capital improvements.
He also pointed out that he had only two employers in his career and he would be at Crossville for the long haul.