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Former Hendersonville Parks Director Dave LeMarbre will start next week as the city’s first city administrator. LeMarbre will serve until the position is filled permanently – most likely in the spring. TENA LEE

Former Hendersonville Parks Director Dave LeMarbre will begin overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city as soon as Dec. 10 after leaders voted to appoint him interim city administrator.  

The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) voted in May to create the position of a city administrator – a move that removes many of the responsibilities currently being performed by the city’s mayor and places them in the hands of an administrator who reports to the 13-member board.  

Board members voted in October to begin a search to fill the position, but Human Resources Manager Peter Voss said he was instructed to not advertise the position by Mayor Jamie Clary. 

Several aldermen, including Vice Mayor Arlene Cunningham, said they were frustrated by Clary’s seeming defiance of city legislation.

Cunningham, along with Ward 1 Alderman Peg Petrelli proposed a resolution during the Nov. 26 BOMA meeting to hire an interim city administrator to take over the city’s day-to-day operation as early as Dec. 10.  

Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown moved to amend the resolution by specifically naming LeMarbre to fill the position until a permanent pick is hired next year. 

Brown noted that LeMarbre does not meet one of the qualifications that the permanent city administrator be a member in good standing of the International City Management Association (ICMA).

“We’re asking for someone to hold the fort down basically for six or seven months until we can get the person who does have that certification in here,” said Brown. “Dave understands the processes of hiring, budgeting, implementation of the budget, project management, departmental management, etc. - and there’s a lot of etcetera. Thirty-eight years of experience fulfills a lot of that etcetera.”

LeMarbre was hired by the city in August 1979. He became the city’s parks director in 1992, and retired in 2015. He served as interim parks director in 2018 following the resignation of his successor, Brandon Rogers. 

A native of Cape Cod, Mass., LeMarbre holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and education from Tennessee Tech University, and a master’s degree in recreation administration from Western Kentucky University. 

Brown proposed that the city hire LeMarbre as the interim city administrator at a rate of $75 an hour – or $12,000 a month for 40 hours a week. LeMarbre will receive no benefits except a city-issued cell phone, Brown added.

He’ll start on Dec. 10, and hold the position until a permanent city administrator is hired or when the 2021 fiscal year budget is approved. 

“I’m hoping we can get someone hired in five or six months,” said Brown. 

Funding will come from unfilled positions

The maximum amount allocated for the interim position is $82,000 with the funds for the position coming from unfilled positions in the public works and finance departments. 

LeMarbre said he appreciated the board’s confidence in him and that he planned to meet soon with aldermen, the mayor and city employees.  

“I want to try to put team work back into this organization,” he said, noting that he and his wife, a former County Commissioner, have raised their family in Hendersonville, and retired in Hendersonville. 

“I care about this community. I’m willing to help in any way I can,” LeMarbre added. “When my name came up, I talked about it, prayed about it and here we are. I’ll do what I can to run the day to day operations.  I’m a rule follower. I like to follow rules and move on. If we need to change a rule, we’ll get it changed. We’re not going to circumvent rules just for individuals.”

LeMarbre noted that he did not want the city administrator position permanently. 

Several aldermen said LeMarbre was well respected at City Hall and that they thought he was a good choice for the position. 

“You’ve never had any disciplines or suspensions with the city have you?” Clary asked. 

“I have,” said LeMarbre who was placed on paid administrative leave for a week in September 2007 by Mayor Scott Foster. 

LeMarbre was placed on paid administrative leave for a week in September 2007 by Mayor Scott Foster during a politically charged dispute between Foster and LeMarbre regarding the city’s newly created park ranger department. The park ranger department was moved under the direction of the police department a couple of months later.

Clary, who is seeking re-election in 2020, also asked LeMarbre if he has campaigned for anyone running for mayor in 2020.  

“Yes, I have,” he said. LeMarbre has publicly endorsed Clary’s opponent, former Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Brenda Payne. 

The vote to hire LeMarbre as the city’s interim city administrator passed 10 to 3. 

Clary, along with Jim Waters of Ward 6 and Mark Skidmore of Ward 1 voted against the resolution.  

“I look forward to working with Dave and doing what is best for the citizens of Hendersonville,” Clary said in a text message following the vote. 

Duties of the city administrator

According to the ordinance the board passed in May, LeMarbre’s duties will include:

*Administering the business of the municipality

*Employing, promoting, disciplining, suspending and discharging all employees other than department heads in accordance with personnel policies and procedures adopted by the Board

*Recommending to the Board the appointment of department heads, with said department heads to report directly to the city administrator; disciplinary actions of department heads may be appealed to the Board

*Acting as purchasing agent for the municipality in the purchase of all materials, supplies and equipment for the proper conduct of the municipality’s business; provided, that all purchases shall be made in accordance with policies, practices and procedures established by the Board

*Preparing and submitting the annual budget and capital program to the Board for adoption by ordinance

*Making recommendations to the Board for improving the quality and quantity of public services to be rendered by the officers and employees of the city

*Keeping the Board fully advised as to the condition and needs of the city

*Reporting to the Board the condition of all property, real and personal, owned by the city and recommend repairs or replacements as needed

*Performing such other duties as may from time to time be designated or required by the Board

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