Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Morristown City Admin. Moving To Kingsport?

It will likely come as a surprise to many Morristown residents that current City Administrator Jim Crumley is eyeing a move to Kingsport for the post of City Manager, according to reports in today's Kingsport-Times News.

The report also raises concerns about audit reports during Crumley's tenure in Johnson City:

KINGSPORT - Jim Crumley - Morristown city administrator and former Johnson City assistant city manager - is the candidate being considered for Kingsport's top job.

Mayor Dennis Phillips revealed Crumley's identity during a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session Monday afternoon.

Crumley has served as city administrator of Morristown since February 2001. Previously, he worked for the city of Johnson City for nearly 17 years, ending his tenure there as assistant city manager under then-City Manager John Campbell.

Reached by phone on Monday, Crumley said he was flattered to be considered for the Kingsport city manager position.

"Kingsport has been an outstanding community - not only for city managers, but for all of East Tennessee for a long time," Crumley said. "The opportunity to work and serve with the group of people leading the city is really great."

Kingsport has been without a city manager since the resignation of A. Ray Griffin Jr. in January. Since then, City Attorney Mike Billingsley has been serving as interim.

Soon after Griffin's resignation, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service began recruiting potential candidates for the BMA to consider. Campbell, who is now NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership director, also helped in the search.

The process was selected to keep potential candidates' identities confidential so as to not cause problems with their current jobs.

BMA members have met with two candidates and last week - following complaints from some city leaders about the search process - agreed to hold a public interview session with Crumley on Aug. 7. Phillips said he intends to bring Crumley's nomination for city manager to the BMA for a vote on Aug. 14.

Pat Hardy, with MTAS, said he thinks Crumley is a great match for Kingsport.

"We talked to a bunch of people and sent the tentacles out as far as we could to get people who are interested," Hardy said. "I think we've found somebody in Jim whose personality seems to click with Kingsport. He's a personable person, very up front and honest - a really good match for Kingsport."

Phillips made it clear Monday afternoon he supports Crumley for the city manager position.

"He is a successful city administrator in Morristown. They seem to be doing very well in economic development. He has worked under John Campbell, who is by most people's account one of the better city managers who has been in this area," Phillips said. "He is highly recommended by MTAS, and both Pat Hardy and John Campbell feel that this is the strongest candidate that we could probably get at this time without paying an enormous amount of money."

However, some members of the BMA have concerns about Crumley and his time working in Johnson City.

BMA members will review the last three financial audits of Morristown and the last two audits of Johnson City when Crumley served as assistant city manager.

The two audits from Johnson City are the 1999-2000 one, which contained more than 50 findings, and the 2000-2001 audit, which contained 30 findings - all holdovers from the previous year. Johnson City's finance department also failed in 2001 to receive the Certificate of Achievement from the Government Finance Officers Association in almost a decade.

"The two audits from Johnson City raise many, many concerns for him," Alderman Ken Marsh said. "I have many questions on the first two, and when I see the other three, I may or may not have other questions. These first two make me wonder about some of the financial recommendations I hear from other people.

"Some of (the information in the first two audits) is not particularly reinforcing."

Phillips said he has met with the accountants who conducted the Johnson City audits and says there was no criminal-type activity reported.

"There are disagreements about how the auditors feel like things should be done and how things were done. You have to look ... was anything done without the knowledge of the entire council," Phillips said. "Keep in mind, Jim wasn't the comptroller. There was people working under him. We're not hiring him to be the finance director for the city of Kingsport. We're hiring him to be the city manager for Kingsport, which involves what he's been doing successfully in Morristown."

Vice Mayor Larry Munsey, who had a second interview with Crumley last week, said he intends to wait until the Aug. 7 public interview to pose his questions and concerns.

"Now is not the right time to do that," Munsey said during Monday's meeting.

"If there's something you want to say, the appropriate time to say it is in this meeting and not in a parking lot or amongst your friends," Phillips said to all BMA members. "If something needs to be said, I would appreciate it said in a BMA meeting or work session."

"That's not a nice thing to say," Munsey said. "If anybody's doing things in a parking lot ... if you want to have this right now I'm prepared to do it."

Munsey has taken issue with the search process, saying there had been no public discussion by the BMA.

"I would very much prefer to look at Alderman Marsh in face, Alderman (Pat) Shull in the face and Alderman (Ken) Maness in the face whenever we have those discussions," Munsey said. "I'd prefer to see these people when we talk about it."


  1. Anonymous2:36 AM

    Could there be others leaving as well? Does the name R. Overholt ring a bell?

  2. Good point - however, since several investigations into hiring practices and other problems have been reported and "under investigation" for months and months, I don't sense any immediate change.

    But I've been wrong before!!!

  3. After some further thought on this topic, I would expect Crumley would likely attempt to bring Brian Janish with him, since he brought him from Johnson City and made him his budget director and HR director here. Morristown city employees make no bones about their dislike of Janish.