published Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Tim Boyd offers to be East Ridge consultant for $96,000

East Ridge's interim city manager is stretched thin, so Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd offered to lighten the load — for $8,000 a month from taxpayers.

Boyd emailed City Attorney Hal North on Tuesday night with a resume and a suggestion that the City Council hire him as a consultant until December 2014. Boyd now makes about $21,000 a year representing East Ridge as a county commissioner. He wants another $96,000 and a city-owned car. On Wednesday, he said he simply put the option out there for the council to consider.

Boyd's offer comes in the middle of a hectic week as the council looks for a new city manager. On Feb. 7, former Manager Tim Gobble resigned, and Eddie Phillips stepped in as the interim manager for the sixth time in his career. Phillips is also the East Ridge public safety director, and until the city hires someone he will have to do both jobs.

"It is unreasonable to think Eddie Phillips can effectively perform his duties as a Safety Director and effectively perform the duties of a City Manager," Boyd wrote in an email.

Phillips disagrees.

"I can do this job fine," he said. "I've done it five times."

If the city hires Boyd, this won't be the first time its manager also represents East Ridge as a county commissioner. Curtis Adams did both jobs in 2008, and the city paid him $60,000 per year. In addition to his role as county commissioner, Boyd wrote in his resume that he works for Stuller Manufacturing.

Even if the council members want to hire Boyd, North isn't so sure the move is legal. While the council can hire consultants, North thinks Boyd's title might be misleading. In an email, Boyd suggested that as a consultant he would scrutinize the city's next two budgets -- a job that is reserved for the city manager.

Whoever the city hires for the position must have worked in city government for at least three years and must hold a bachelor's degree in public administration. At least, that is the case until next year, when residents can vote to change the City Charter. You can give the person any title you want, North said, but if that person does the city manger's job, he or she better have the necessary degree and experience.

Councilman Larry Sewell thinks some of his co-workers want to sneak around the charter's rules by hiring Boyd. Maybe residents will change the charter's requirements next year and then promote Boyd to city manager. Sewell thinks some councilmen are working on this without telling him or Mayor Brent Lambert.

Last week, Sewell and Lambert also didn't know about Gobble's resignation until the last minute. Only Marc Gravitt, Denny Manning and Bethune were involved. On Wednesday, Sewell said Lambert just found out about Boyd's proposal, too.

"We're getting left in the dark on some issues that won't sit well with the city of East Ridge," Sewell said. "It takes five to run the city, not three."

For his part, Gravitt said Boyd's proposal was new to him, as well. Bethune and Manning didn't return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Staff writer Louie Brogdon contributed to this report.

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