City manager off and running

Published 10:16 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

FRANKLIN—New City Manager Randy Martin hopes to open dialog with nearby localities about sharing more services as a possible way to save tax dollars.

Martin, in his first week on the job after succeeding June Fleming, said he had already talked to Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson and had played “phone tag” with Isle of Wight County Administrator Douglas Caskey.

“The key to it is keeping an open mind,” Martin said. “I think there will be opportunities available, but it has to be a win-win situation.”

Martin called the prospect of more shared services among adjacent localities a priority but said any such move would take some time. He added that sharing services doesn’t necessarily mean consolidation of services.

“I’ve still got a lot of research to do, but I’m going into it with eyes wide open,” Martin said.

Martin, the 57-year-old former manager of Morehead City, N.C., said he has seen success elsewhere with localities sharing services such as utilities and emergency response.

“It is successful in most places; I don’t know why it wouldn’t be successful in this place,” Martin said.

The city and Southampton County already share the commonwealth’s attorney and an economic development agency. The city also has a revenue-sharing agreement with Isle of Wight County related to the International Paper mill campus along the Blackwater River.

The city owns its own electrical utility but gets power from Dominion Virginia Power at a wholesale rate.

To add to an already busy first week, Martin met with every department head and attempted to meet with every City Hall employee since starting work Tuesday.

He plans to sit down with every City Council member early in his tenure to find out what’s important to them.

“I want to develop a working relationship with all the council members,” Martin said. “Consensus-building is a priority.”

He is also very interested in meeting with citizens and business owners early on.

Martin said economic development will be an early priority, as he wants the city to do everything in its power to keep small businesses viable.

“The backbone of the economy is small business, and existing business is something you have to protect,” Martin said.

Martin, a Stokes County, N.C. native, has been impressed with the reception he has received in his short time in Franklin. He attended the city’s 50th anniversary gala at the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center last weekend.

“People have been great,” Martin said. “They’re genuine and they want to see the community be the best that it can be.”

Martin will be paid $110,000 in the first year of a three-year contract as city manager. The salary will increase to $115,000 in the second year and $121,275 on July 1, 2014.