by A.C. Hall
The White Settlement City Council held a special meeting Friday evening to canvas the results of the recent runoff election but it was actions taken after a closed door executive session that had the council chamber buzzing. After deliberating in the closed door session for thirty minutes, council members reconvened. A motion was made at that time by council member Mike Arnold to accept the resignation of City Manager Linda Ryan and to appoint current Economic Development Director Jim Ryan as the new City Manager. The motion stated that Mr. Ryan’s contract was for a term of five years at an annual salary of $151,735. That amount was said to include money for a car allowance.
The motion passed by a vote of 3 to 2, with Arnold, outgoing council member Gene Hatcher, and council member Steve Ott all voting in favor. Council members Elzie Clements and Danny Anderson voted against the motion.
After the vote, Clements voiced his displeasure over how the situation was handled. He said that he has nothing personally against Jim Ryan as the City Manager, but that he did have a problem with the late notice given as he had just received Ryan’s contract that evening.
“As far as I know nobody has read it, I have not read it completely up until now and in no way, shape, form, or fashion am I gonna vote on something that I have not had time to analyze,” Clements said.
He also spoke about his belief that the City Manager opening should’ve been advertised to allow other candidates a chance to apply. Clements repeated that he doesn’t have anything against Jim Ryan before closing his comments.
“I just don’t think it’s right that we’ve done this,” Clements stated.
Speaking to The Grizzly Detail after the meeting, Jim Ryan was confident in his ability to work with the entire council as he steps into his new role as City Manager.
“We’re gonna do good work together here,” Ryan said.
He went on to add that he knows Clements and Anderson don’t have any issues with him and that they only voted against him because they weren’t pleased with how the process of naming him City Manager was handled.
“I wish the vote had been 5 – 0 but I understand why they voted how they did and I’m confident that they have faith in me,” Ryan said.
Newly elected Mayor Ronald A. White communicated with the Grizzly Detail following the meeting and shared his thoughts on the naming of a new City Manager.
“First and foremost, the decision tonight has upset many people. Under normal circumstances, when there is a vacancy like the position of City Manager, the City Council should advertise the opening and accept applications. There seems to be a problem in this town with following the hiring practices and procedures when it comes to the City Manager Position,” White said.
White also called into question the process that took place following the executive session. “Basically, in my opinion, Council Members Hatcher, Arnold, and Ott, did a disservice to the citizens when they voted to give Jim Ryan a five year contract in excess of $150,000.00 per year. Additionally, Council Member Elzie Clements said he had not seen the contract before the meeting tonight. So, my question is this; Who developed this contract and who was aware of the contract prior to tonight’s meeting?” White said.
White closed his comments by saying that he feels the action taken by Hatcher, Arnold, and Ott was wrong and that he does not support it.
Linda Ryan has served as City Manager of White Settlement for four and a half years. Her resignation came as a surprise to many, but Ryan has raised the possibility of retirement after 2014 in the past. After the meeting, Ryan said she felt now was the right time to step down but that she hopes to continue with the city in some capacity. She also stated that she believes her husband Jim Ryan will do a great job as the new City Manager.
Certificates of election presented
Newly elected Mayor White and newly elected council member Place 1 Paul Moore each received their certificates of election earlier in the meeting. Each is scheduled to take their oath of office at the January 13 council meeting.
Outgoing Mayor Jerry Burns was not present at the meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Ott ran the meeting, saying that Burns was out of town on business.