It took over three hours for East Ridge City Council members to deliberate over an amended city manager compensation package and interview two candidates vying for the position Monday night.
But it took just minutes for them to make their unanimous decision to hire Hamilton County Jail Chief Tim Gobble as East Ridge’s new city manager.
“I think if you look around the country at cities our size you’ll see [Gobble] is the complete package,” interim city manager Eddie Phillips told the council before they voted whether to accept Gobble’s negotiated terms of the contract.
According to the contract, which takes effect May 1, Gobble will be paid a salary of $116,800 and will be provided with a retirement and insurance plan that is the same as what city employees receive.
Gobble, a former Bradley County sheriff, also will be granted $6,000 in moving expenses — a figure that council members spent more than 15 minutes debating at the beginning of the meeting.
Council members docked the city manager’s $400 per month car allowance earlier in the meeting but agreed to let Gobble have a city take-home car with limited personal use.
William Whitson, the last full-time manager, was paid $112,000 a year with health insurance and vehicle benefits.
“I’m excited,” Gobble said after accepting the position. “The city’s got a number of economic plans and other projects they’re wanting to move forward with, so we’ll hit the ground running. But we’ll take some time to formulate some plans as well.”
Council members also interviewed Anne Bridgewater, a Martin, Tenn., who admitted that though she had years of administrative experience in public government, she had never overseen a budget of more than $8,000.
The city had 29 applicants for the position, but all but three were ruled out because of a provision in the city’s charter which stipulates candidates for the position had to have a degree in public administration and more than three years experience in municipal government.
The third candidate, Brian E. Koral of Missouri, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the city had never notified him that he was a finalist. Councilman Jim Bethune said Koral’s resume never reached his desk.
“I think it should have been opened to a degree,” Bethune said of the charter’s qualification standards. He said the city would probably revisit and amend that provision in the city’s charter in 2012.
Despite the limited scope of options, Bethune said the city got lucky with Gobble’s application.
“His qualifications are all there. I usually walk out in this audience during meetings and there will be someone out there that’s disagreeing with what goes on. But there was only one choice tonight,” Bethune said.
Contact Kate Harrison at email@example.com or 423-757-6673.
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