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City manager is named
Council picks Towarnicki
Leon Towarnicki (third from right) was named the new Martinsville city manager on Tuesday. He is shown above with members of the Martinsville City Council (from left) Mark Stroud, Sharon Brooks Hodge, Mayor Kim Adkins, Vice Mayor Gene Teague and Danny Turner. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Leon Towarnicki no longer is Martinsville’s “interim” city manager — he’s been given the job permanently.
After a closed session to discuss a personnel issue, Martinsville City Council on Tuesday named Towarnicki to the city’s top administrative job, approving an employment contract and a compensation ordinance in unanimous votes.
He will receive an annual salary of $115,000, the ordinance shows.
Towarnicki, 57, had been the public works director/assistant city manager. He also was named interim city manager after the former city manager, Clarence Monday, left in January 2012 to be the Amherst County administrator.
Monday was earning $118,320 annually when he left. Towarnicki’s pay recently was raised to about $107,000 a year, reflecting his work in three jobs.
Vice Mayor Gene Teague said Towarnicki has “done an excellent job and gained the confidence” of council members and city staff members alike during his months at the helm of city government.
Towarnicki has been involved in many projects to benefit the area, including efforts to improve the appearance of the old courthouse uptown and to start a medical school in Martinsville, Mayor Kim Adkins noted. He has helped move those projects forward through his leadership abilities, she said.
“I don’t know how we could have found a better city manager,” said Police Chief Mike Rogers. “He’s proven himself over and over.”
“He’s a team player,” Rogers said, “and he believes in doing things right and treating people right.”
Rogers said that Towarnicki manages stress well. He said that he never has seen Towarnicki lose his temper.
The police chief made his remarks while speaking from the floor during the council meeting. He emphasized that he was speaking based on his personal experiences with Towarnicki and that he was not trying to “brown nose.” The police chief answers to the city manager.
The council used headhunting firm Springsted Inc. to recruit applicants for the manager’s job. Adkins said five of about 40 applicants were interviewed. The council negotiated only with Towarnicki and an out-of-state candidate.
Negotiations with that candidate failed in December. Adkins would not identify the person, but she said he currently is a city manager.
As negotiations with that person continued, she said she realized “we had the right person in place” already with Towarnicki. She emphasized that was her opinion and she could not speak for other council members.
Towarnicki said he did not apply for the permanent job until just before the deadline because he was busy preparing the current fiscal year’s budget and he had not had time to think about whether he wanted the job.
A lot of people encouraged him to apply, he said, adding that he did so because he determined he had the experience needed to do the job.
After he became assistant city manager, responsibilities between he and Monday were divided so that basically half of the city’s department heads reported to him, with the other half reporting to Monday, he recalled.
As public works director/assistant city manager, “I had a lot of interaction with other city departments and the public,” Towarnicki said. “I developed a good understanding of the departments and how they work.”
City managers usually are required to live in Martinsville. The council waived that mandate for Towarnicki, who lives about a mile outside the city limits in Chatmoss. Adkins said council members generally felt that asking him and his wife to move, when they already live so close, would be “an unfair burden.”
Councilman Danny Turner said he has “some heartburn” about Towarnicki not living in the city but no problems with him being hired.
The city spent a little more than $19,000 on the city manager search, including Springsted fees, according to Finance Director Linda Conover.
Speaking from the floor, Martinsville resident Ural Harris questioned why the city spent that money “to get someone who’s already here.”
Adkins said the city determined it needed some help to recruit candidates and manage the hiring process.