Sawmills town manager may get power to fire

Seth Eckard says some employees just ignore him
Feb. 13, 2013 @ 08:14 AM

The Sawmills town administrator may soon have a freer hand to discipline and even fire most town employees.

At a budget retreat  Tuesday at the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, town council members discussed giving Seth Eckard, the  town administrator for two years, more responsibilities, including the ability to fire or discipline all town employees except the finance manager. Eckard said the lack of that authority hamstrings him.

“I feel like I’m very ineffective,” Eckard said during the retreat. “People feel like it doesn’t matter what I say to them; they can just go to council. I need some more bite.”

Sawmills operates under a mayor/council//administrator system, where an administrator is hired to handle some or all of the town’s administrative duties. The switch from a mayor-council form of government, in which the elected officials handle administration, was made when the daily operations became too much for elected officials, many of whom hold other jobs. Town Attorney Terry Taylor suggested that the council adopt an ordinance amendment to give Eckard the authority he said he needs.

“I think you’re ready to take the next step and give the manager more responsibility,” she said.

In other business, town leaders discussed hiring Griffith Security to patrol Baird Park, Public Works and the lake facility due to vandalism in park bathrooms, skateboard use that has warped park benches, and evidence of methamphetamine use and illegal dumping. If approved, the cost would be $5 per patrol.