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Washington city manager leaving post by end of year

About 30 applicants are seeking to become Washington’s next city manager, who will replace Bobby Roberson.

For about three and a half years, Roberson has served as city manager, first on an interim basis and then on a full-time basis. Before those three and a half years, Roberson was on the City Council, previously serving as the city’s planning director. Roberson plans to leave his post by the end of the year, once his replacement is hired. “It depends on how the search goes,” he said.

The deadline for applicants to submit resumes was Wednesday.

“Council wants copies of all the resumes. So, they’re setting up that process to move forward,” Roberson said. The council will review each resume, he noted.

The salary range for the new city manager runs from $98,702 to $148,053. The council prefers an applicant have a master’s degree in public administration with five or more years of municipal government experience. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business or a related field with five or more years of municipal government experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

On Friday, Roberson discussed some of the major accomplishments that he and the City Council brought about during his tenure as city manager.

“One of the things is the pay-as-you go philosophy that the council adopted. I think that’s been a very definite plus for us. We, typically, have eliminated a lot of debt over the past three and a half years,” he said. “Short-term financing — we’ve opted not to do that. We’ve actually looked at our fund balance along with projects. It’s been difficult at times, particularly on the capital-improvements program. The pay-as-you-go will definitely pay dividends for us. Ultimately, what I wanted to do is retire all the debt by the end of the fifth year so the city wouldn’t owe anything except for the two outstanding projects that we have, one of then is the 15th Street fire station, and then a portion of the debt, which we are going to finalize by the end of December, would be for the new police station. Outside of that, we wouldn’t owe any debt at the end of the fifth year.”

By refinancing loans for several major capital items, the city has saved money, Roberson noted.

Roberson believes ongoing downtown economic-development activities are helping reshape the city’s economy for the better.

“One again, the council and the staff have bought into eco-tourism. So, we’ve looked at filling up those empty buildings. That’s been a high priority for the mayor and City Council, for us to increase business inside the central business district,” Roberson said. “We’ve gotten some great loan packages through some grant and some other amenities, and I think people are receptive to that. They do like the character of the Historic District. We’ve kept that intact over the years, and that’s been difficult. We’ve maintained that historic culture.”

Roberson said some of the activities downtown are the result of the city implementing public-private partnerships. “We’re one of the first communities in North Carolina to have a Main Street program.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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