Hendersonville’s Interim Finance Director since May, Robert Manning was offered the job permanently last week.
The Sept. 10 vote to confirm the new finance director was unanimous despite concern from some aldermen that the city had not re-advertised the position after it changed the job description to meet Manning’s qualifications.
The city first offered the position to Roy Jones, a 23-year Metro Nashville employee during the July 23 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. Jones declined the offer the next day.
Mayor Jamie Clary called a special BOMA meeting on July 29 in which he put forth Manning’s name for consideration.
Manning, 31, was hired in March as the city’s assistant finance director. He was elevated to the interim position in May following the retirement of Ron Minnicks.
During the July 29 meeting, City Attorney John Bradley pointed out that Manning wasn’t first considered for the director position because he didn’t meet the minimum requirements of holding a Certified Municipal Finance Officer (CMFO) certification, also a state requirement, or a CPA license. In addition, he has six years of experience with municipal government instead of the 10 years the city requires.
Bradley noted that the state allows a candidate two years to get CFMO certification. He said if city leaders wanted to hire Manning, the city could modify the job description to require six years of municipal experience.
Human Resources Manager Peter Voss said that night he thought the city should re-advertise the position.
“The job was advertised with certain requirements that Mr. Manning doesn’t have,” he said. “I think the city is open for liability if we don’t advertise. My advice is we’re still open for liability.”
Nevertheless, aldermen voted to defer Manning’s appointment for 45 days, but did not vote to re-advertise the position.
During the Sept. 10 meeting, several aldermen said they were under the impression that the city would follow Voss’s recommendation and re-advertise the position.
“If we start changing job description requirements for everybody so it fits them – then we’re going to be a laughing stock,” said Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown. “We can’t continue to do that.”
However, Ward 3 Alderman Arlene Cunningham said that the decision was to defer the vote for 45 days, change the job description and not re-post the position.
“I was at that meeting and that’s what we all decided,” said Cunningham who also chairs the city’s Finance Committee. Cunningham urged aldermen to move forward with Manning’s appointment.
“Robert has performed exceptionally,” she said.
A motion to re-advertise the position failed. A subsequent motion to confirm Manning as the city’s next finance director was unanimous.
Manning said on Monday he’s up for the job.
“I think realistically it’s going to be a learning curve for all of us, but all of my team has bought in and I’ve had excellent support from other directors,” he said.
Before he came to work for the city of Hendersonville, Manning served as director for compliance policy and evaluation with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Before that, he served as budget analyst coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.