Local Politics

Russell Allen out as Raleigh city manager

Posted April 17, 2013

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— The Raleigh City Council voted Wednesday morning not to renew the contract of City Manager J. Russell Allen. His last day will be July 1.

A city spokeswoman said the termination is without cause and that, as stipulated in his contract, Allen will be paid through its expiration in April 2014 or until he finds new employment.

Allen earns an annual base salary of $224,000 and is given a $744 monthly car allowance.

The City Council released a statement thanking Allen for his service of over 12 years on the job but said it wants to go in a new direction.

"Just as Raleigh has grown and changed, so have the skills needed to manage and grow the city," the statement said.

Allen did not return calls for comment but released a statement saying that he is honored and proud to have served the city.

"I have always strived to make this a better city and have loved doing so," he said. "Raleigh has a very engaged citizenry, and I hope they feel that I have been respectful, accessible and responsive. Raleigh is one of the most successful cities in the country and is poised for even greater achievements. As much as I will miss this job, I am thankful for the experiences and confident in the city’s future."

Raleigh city manager's contract won't be renewed Raleigh city manager's contract won't be renewed

Wednesday's 6-2 vote followed a closed meeting. Council members Eugene Weeks and Mary-Ann Baldwin did not support the move.

"I think Russell did a good job," Baldwin told WRAL News. "We were just ranked the second-best run city in the country. I think all of us voted to do what we thought was best."

"I give him the highest regard for what he's been doing for the City of Raleigh. No. 1 rankings in certain things did not come by itself," Weeks said. "We know the City of Raleigh has to move forward. I will be sad that it will not be with him."

Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Wednesday afternoon that Allen has been the perfect manager for more than a decade and that the decision was a difficult one.

"Raleigh is changing and facing challenges, and we need a different kind of manager and a new point of view," she said.

McFarlane acknowledged that there were communication issues between the City Council and Allen and that both had been trying to make the relationship better.

Former Mayor Charles Meeker, however, praised Allen for his leadership skills and vision for Raleigh, especially the revitalization of downtown.

"One of his great strengths is his ability to recognize talent," Meeker said. "Also, the willingness to make so many changes. When you're a manager, it's easy to keep doing the same thing over and over, but opening Fayetteville Street or building a convention center is hard work."

Meeker added that he thinks Allen will have lots of employment prospects, saying that, over the years, big cities have tried to recruit him.

Raleigh, Meeker said, "has been fortunate" to have been able to keep Allen for more than a decade.

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  • btneast Apr 19, 2013

    collaborative decision-making.

    Oh lord, the " buzzword" of the day...collaborative....I cringe when I hear it. It's way over used. A good manager gets input from his subordinates, but ultimately the manager makes the decision. Decision by committee is a slow process and makes a company slow and cumbersome, something that will kill a company in today's fast paced environment. It creates a "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" situation.

  • raleighboy524 Apr 18, 2013

    Additional pay for each during her/his rotaton as "city manager." This system also has the added benefits of continuity of knowledge and promotion of coordinated, collaborative decision-making.

  • raleighboy524 Apr 18, 2013

    How about Raleigh managed by a "board" of department heads with a rotation for the chairperson, who would, in effect, be manager for a defined period of time before yielding to another manager, etc?

  • penelope1 Apr 18, 2013

    Raleighboy524...you're funny! May as well hire one of the long time city employees at that salary. I know there are employees that's been with the City close to 30 yrs making 80K per year; so I know you won't get a qualified person with that base pay but I agree with you; the next one could get an increase based on certain benchmarks he achieves.

  • btneast Apr 18, 2013

    Increased trash pickup fess, pickup went from 2 days to 1 day a week. Plus he eliminated backyard pickup.

    Dang, this trash pick up thing has really got you worked up....you've mentioned it every post. I have lived in this area for close to 25 years and have always had once a week pick up. You can't push the can that has wheels to the curb one day a week? 1996 to 2013 is 17 years, I would expect any bill to be significantly more after nearly 20 years.

  • raleighboy524 Apr 18, 2013

    As I suggested yesterday, how about one regional "city" manager for Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill? Heck, the Triangle is just one big city anyway. Each city could kick in $80-$90K, even a little more, and we'd get a good manager and save money in the process. Yes, I know there are three city councils/town boards. No reason one with reps from all three couldn't work well either. It's time to think creatively.

  • ConservativeVoter Apr 18, 2013

    "Maybe not, but you also don't want a rookie learning the ropes at your expense. I am all for paying less if possible, but I also know if you cheap out on a manager, it will likely cost you more in the long run in mistakes and bad decisions.
    btneast"

    We got problems for $200,000 from Allen.

    Increased trash pickup fess, pickup went from 2 days to 1 day a week. Plus he eliminated backyard pickup.

    Increased taxes and fees.

    I compared my water bill from 1996 to 2013. It went up over 100%. Most of the increase was in the "fees". Very little was for water and sewer.

    We have a higher trash fee with reduced service.

    We have a stormwater fee because we're being penalized for it raining.

    We have the white elephant convention center which is losing money and being used significantly less than Allen estimated when he and Meeker proposed it.

    He wanted the city government monument to him and Meeker that the city council was smart enough to vote down.

  • btneast Apr 18, 2013

    You don't need a senior City Manager

    Maybe not, but you also don't want a rookie learning the ropes at your expense. I am all for paying less if possible, but I also know if you cheap out on a manager, it will likely cost you more in the long run in mistakes and bad decisions.

  • btneast Apr 18, 2013

    Find somebody with talent in a smaller city and pay them less to start out and then give them raises as their level of talent

    Sounds good in theory. In reality, the talent required to run a city the size of Raleigh is something quite a few other cities are looking for as well. If you want your target to accept your offer over another city's offer, you at least have to be in the ballpark moneywise. Much smaller towns, Like Clinton, pay their current managers over 100k now.

  • mike275132 Apr 18, 2013

    "Allen earns an annual base salary of $224,000 and is given a $744 monthly car allowance."

    Times 12 years is over 2.4 + million. Not bad -

    Good to be an overpaid Bureaucrat these days.

    And just look how well Raleigh is doing.....

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