Just when you thought Danville’s city manager situation couldn’t get any more peculiar, the man who currently holds the position came before the City Commission this week to ask a favor: Ron Scott needs the city to annex his property so he can keep his job without having to move.
If this really is the end of the embarrassing city manager saga, it is as fitting as it is bizarre. It makes sense that a process begun when commissioners contorted the limits of reason — and the city’s ordinances — mulling ways to oust Scott’s predecessor Paul Stansbury, would conclude with having to bend the actual city limits.
This is a move anyone who has paid attention to the drama played out over the last two years saw coming from the moment Scott was hired as the interim city manager. Let's also be clear about the current City Commission’s decision. Given the options commissioners were left with, they got it right when they voted 4-1 this week in favor of bringing in Scott's rural property just past the city limits on U.S. 127 toward Harrodsburg.
A city ordinance stipulates the city manager must reside in or relocate within the city limits, although there remains some uncertainty about how long the city manager has to move after landing the job. Now that Scott has the job, it seems silly to make someone who lives almost within a literal stone's throw of town leave a home he and his wife have lived in for years.
There are some valid questions about whether the city would make the same concession for all nearby residents wanting to be taken in and if Scott had any advantage over other candidates who didn't have the “get hired, get annexed” option. However, what’s done is done. Most importantly, the process will apparently not cost the city a dime.
If it is true Danville won't have to spend anything, thank goodness. The whole city manager mess already has cost Danville too much in ways not only measured in dollars and cents.
Along the way:
- Stansbury was fired and paid for nearly a year while two interim city managers also drew checks.
- The first interim city manager, former Danville Mayor John Bowling, resigned amid supposed threats made by a disgruntled city employee. During a public disciplinary hearing, the threats were later determined to be idle and extremely irresponsible workplace chatter.
- Scott, a former assistant executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, was hired as the second interim city manager. (He was actually the third, if you count head of city code enforcement Bridgette Lester, who was serving as a stand-in for the second time in the 2000s).
- The city spent months deciding on whether to use an executive search firm, appeared to have decided against one, then hired and paid one to attract and narrow a list of candidates in a national search. A local committee ranked the finalists, but claimed later the Commission ignored its recommendations.
- After interviewing several candidates identified by the national search, Scott was hired by a vote of 3-2.
Scott seems like an agreeable and competent worker and certainly enjoys the approval of the Mayor Bernie Hunstad, who has enthused about Scott since he was chosen as the interim. The first-term mayor's vast knowledge of all past city managers even prompted him to say during the meeting when Scott requested annexation, "Danville has not had a finer city manager than the one we currently have.”
After all the trouble the city went to in getting to this point, we should all hope so.