Former Pender County Manager, Rick Benton, will now be serving as the new interim county manager. Pender County Commissioners decided to hire him at $175 an hour.
Commission Chairman, David Williams, said it was necessary to hire Benton even though the County Finance Director, Butch Watson, was already acting as interim county manager. Watson assumed the role in May, when then County Manager Mickey Duvall left.
While Williams admits $175 an hour is a large price to pay, he stressed that Benton will not be in the position that long, and only expects him working for the county a couple of weeks.
Williams said he was disappointed in the way the previous manager, Mickey Duvall, left the county and said commissioners needed to hire someone to help stabilize the county and someone who could jump right into things without any training.
"If you pay somebody half as much, how long would it take them to come in and figure out what is going on?" Williams questioned. "They are unfamiliar with Pender County, more than likely, and they don't know how all of the inner-workings of the county. The man that took the job this morning is up and running. I would rather do this than pay somebody half as much for three weeks just to [get oriented."
He went on to say Benton knows how the county operates, and is familiar with many of the long term projects because he helped to create them.
Williams said one of their main concerns with how Duvall left the county is the FY12-FY13 audit which he said should have been turned in back in October. Williams said when leaders asked Duvall and Watson about the audit they were told it was late, but would be turned in soon and all necessary parties were aware.
However, Williams said he learned in mid-June that was not the case. He said the Local Governments Commission sent him a letter asking where the audit was, and why it was late.
"[I was ] very disappointed, very concerned and it didn't even take a few minutes for all of us to decide, 'Ok, we've got an interesting situation here, let's do what we got to do to fix it,' The board has been 100% dedicated and we've put the wheels in motion to do that," Williams said.
Williams said the audit should be turned in by next Friday. He also said they are working on submitting a Corrective Action Report to ensure this never happens again.
He went onto say that Benton will be essentially acting as a consultant. He expects Benton will put in long hours the first couple of days but then says it should decrease. He stressed Benton should only be acting as interim county manager for a couple of weeks, until a new Pender County Manager is hired.
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