Tryon with no public works director for over 2 years

Published 8:00 am Friday, October 26, 2018

Resident questioned lack of director; officials answer questions

TRYON — After being without a public works director since March 2016, the town of Tryon is now considering hiring a new director or hiring two employees to fill the role.

After resident John Vining questioned the town last week over its lack of a director, the Bulletin reached out to town officials.

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Vining said the current system the town has in place is not working. He mentioned several issues, including it taking six weeks to remove a tree in a park, waiting two years for a ditch to be cleaned out and a donor plaque the town has had in its possession for a year it has yet to place.

He said the drain in front of Missildine’s was completely blocked and, had he not unplugged it prior to the recent heavy rains, he thinks Harper would have been completely covered in water. He also mentioned other drains he has cleaned out.

“I do it, but my point is, we wait until there’s a flood and then we do something,” Vining said.

He said he does not want a public works director who is going to sit in the office, and he thinks the town’s crew is maybe half of what it was when he was growing up.

“What we’ve got going on now doesn’t work,” Vining said.

Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said during his time in Tryon, the position has not been budgeted, but this year, the town built a budget that could sustain the position.

“The board has held discussions revolving around the position,” Ollis said. “They have been discussing the differences between hiring one public works director or two full-time employees to assist the town crews.”

Commissioner Crys Armbrust said he personally finds the situation unacceptable.

“This position is, in my mind, a key management position, one which assures the smooth and efficient day-to-day operation of the town’s overall infrastructure,” Armbrust said. “Moreover, that position, in its best iteration, allows the town to adopt proactive stance, with regard to a range of issues from general appearance to mechanical failure of infrastructure.”

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said he does not feel the town needs a public works director at this time, but two more employees.

“I do not think that we need a public works director at this time,” Peoples said. “However, I do feel that if we had two more employees for roughly the same amount as a public works director, we could begin to catch up in areas where we are behind. Even though a public works director could send people and prioritize jobs, without adequate help, we are just spinning our wheels by adding another level of supervision without adequate workers.”

Peoples said there are several reasons the town is without a public works director, including that council has, up until this time, decided not to hire one, and that the town advertised and did not find anyone in the price range. Peoples said public works directors are paid in the $50,000-$60,000 per year range.

Armbrust, however, said he thinks it is imperative Tryon hire a director.

“Monies should not and are not the issue,” Armbrust said. “We have available funds. So it really boils down to a matter of priorities.”