Officials get good grades in administrative review

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The town of Mount Olive received good grades in an in-depth administrative review from the North Carolina League of Municipalities which concluded “the town’s future appears bright.”

The review does, however, strongly recommend the town’s leaders participate in ongoing educational programs.

The executive summary of the review states: “The Town of Mount Olive’s future appears bright; its constant need for more housing reflects the desire of more people to live here. The demand for increased recreational programs demonstrates an active, vibrant population. As the town grows, more sophisticated mechanisms of managing its resources will be beneficial to the overall planning for that bright future by the town’s board of commissioners.

“Developing a plan for getting there is a daunting task; having more, better information available for that task is essential,” the summary continues. “Documenting the policies and procedures and gathering dates in different areas throughout the organization will keep all employees and officials more informed and engaged, which, in turn, will facilitate the development of a strategic plan to help move forward the town as a whole.”

Town Manager Charles Brown requested the review. Mayor Joe Scott supported it.

Twenty-two town employees were interviewed during the review process.

The interviews were confidential and five broad topics were addressed. They included managerial style and results, human resources and personnel, procurement policy and practice, budgetary and financial position and projection, and economic development projection.

Under the managerial style topic, the review recommended the continued education of elected officials regarding the nature of the town’s council-manager form of government, with a specific emphasis on “independent and equitable application of personnel interactions.”

In the human resources and personnel topic, the review recommended procuring additional human resource expertise for the town, and that Mount Olive conduct an updated pay study.

For procurement, the review recommended the town begin the process of updating Mount Olive’s financial and procurement software, with the understanding that this is a “long, complicated and potentially costly process.”

For financial reporting, the review recommended the town use existing budgetary data on a preset time schedule to provide mid-year budget status reports, work with employees to more closely examine expenditure history in existing budget accounts, and establish a program, perhaps piloted in a single department, to capture workload statistics. It also recommended implementing a trackable, reportable and renewable work order system.

The three recommendations in the economic development investment category, were to introduce a stormwater program, develop a capital investment plan and accompanying debt service plan and consider having a strategic planning process.

The review also noted that the challenges resulting from the report are not uncommon among towns with similar growth patterns.

Elected officials here are to be complimented for requesting the study, the town manager said. Members of the board and the mayor have been “very receptive to recommendations from the study.”

“This indicates to me that our elected officials have the best interest of the town at heart and are committed to moving Mount Olive toward the bright future of which the town is capable,” Brown said.

He also noted that many of the recommendations in the administrative review have already been implemented.

Some administrative personnel have attended 13 weeks of training provided by the UNC School of Government and procurement policies have been reviewed and recommended, he said.

Brown also noted that the town has already signed an agreement with an employee assistant program to give employees the opportunity to seek outside assistance with personal issues.

Elected officials have taken advantage of additional training offered by the UNC School of Government, by the League of Municipalities, and by the Eastern Carolina Council of Government, according to Brown.

The process of updating financial and procurement software has begun, and contracts have been signed to provide trackable, reportable and reviewable work order systems, he said. “Many of the recommendations of the review have been implemented or are being implemented.”

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