published Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

East Ridge votes to hire city manager

East Ridge may soon have a city manager again, finally.

The City Council voted 3-2 at a special called meeting Tuesday night to offer the job to Andrew Hyatt, the current city manager of Fairview. The city government has operated with two interim city managers since Feb. 7, when Tim Gobble resigned.

The council interviewed Hyatt twice in the last two months, the second time coming during a meeting Sept. 19. All five members of the council liked Hyatt more than the city's other two candidates: Hattiesburg, Miss., federal and state programs director Andrew Ellard and Hamilton County Magistrate Larry Ables.

During its last meeting, the council approved a budget in which they planned not to pay for a manager until at least Jan. 1. Mayor Brent Lambert said he didn't think the city could get Hyatt or any other candidate to move here until next year because the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays loom.

But Vice Mayor Jim Bethune disagreed. On Monday, he asked for the special called meeting. Then, on Tuesday night, he told the council they needed to offer Hyatt the job as soon as they can.

"I just don't think we should let this man get away," he said. "He's solid. ... We had good, qualified people. This man stood out."

On Tuesday, the council also voted to offer Hyatt the following: a $90,000 salary, $4,000 in moving expenses, two weeks of paid vacation, health insurance and use of the city's Volkswagen Passat. The contract would last one year. Or, if Hyatt were to start work after Nov. 4 of this year, the contract would end after Nov. 4, 2014 -- the next time City Council members can be replaced in an election.

After the council voted, Lambert and City Attorney Hal North called Hyatt and extended the city's offer. Hyatt said he will need time to think about it.

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com

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