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May 21, 2013

Ebrahim named interim city manager

GREENVILLE — Director of Public Works Massoud Ebrahim was appointed Monday as the interim city manager for the City of Greenville.

The City Council voted 4-2 to name Ebrahim to the post, after Police Chief Daniel J. Busken and Director of Human Resources Barry Robinson declined the job.

The vote came during a special Council session, scheduled in the wake of the Council terminating former city manager Steven Alexander’s contract one week ago.

The Council still has to decide on starting the search process for a new, permanent city manager. Robinson told the Council that the process could take “at least four months”. The length of time would depend on “whether you employ a search firm or employ from within.”

Mayor Steve Reid recommended Ebrahim for the interim post.

“He’s been here a long time,” Reid said. “He knows the day-to-day workings of the city.”

Council member Dan Perkins said he wanted to recommend Robinson, who has served as interim city manager twice before, but noted Robinson in turn had suggested Busken for the role.

“I think the chief would be an incredible choice,” Perkins said, citing Busken’s “people skills” and masters degree in administration.

While Busken appreciated being considered, he explained he has several projects currently in the works, including a recognition program for the police department.

“My plate is really full right now,” Busken said.

Council member Velma Del Bosque-Hobdy said she would like to see Robinson take the post on an interim basis, although Robinson again declined the offer.

The Council also discussed two actions taken by Alexander before he left the position last week.

Alexander transferred the control of the Animal Control department under Busken, while the position of venue manager for the Greenville Municipal Auditorium was placed under the authority of Parks and Recreation Director Colby VanGundy. Alexander also authorized raises for both individuals.

Both Busken and VanGundy told the Council that the moves had been previously discussed with Alexander.

“It’s been several months ago,” Busken said. “I think his words were, ‘Of course there would be additional compensation as part of this.’”

“The only thing that was a surprise to me was the memo that there was a raise,” VanGundy said.

VanGundy said he had no objection to the move, as a member of his staff, Kimber Patterson, was already serving as venue manager.

Busken, on the other hand, had some reservations about taking over Animal Control. Busken said he had served in a similar capacity with other cities.

“When it’s good, it is no problem,” Busken said. “But when it’s bad, it is a lot of work.”

Busken noted the state legislature is preparing to pass new regulations regarding animal euthanasia in Texas, which is expected to have a significant impact on the operations at the local animal control shelter.

“You’re talking about quite a bit of change that we would be taking on as an organization,” Busken said.

The Council indicated it would wait until after a new city manager was hired to make a decision as to whether to make the changes to both departments permanent.

Robinson said the paperwork regarding the changes and the raises is being held in abeyance until such time as the Council decides otherwise.

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