Farmer wraps up first year at Town’s manager

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Before Red Springs Town Manager Billy Joe Farmer started his new job, the former town manager of Red Springs spent over 30 years in that position.
Mr. Farmer has now officially spent one.
On Monday, October 10, 2005, Mr. Farmer started his new job as the town’s top administrative official, replacing longtime manager Wayne Horne who went to Lumberton as their new city manager.
Before coming to Red Springs, Farmer served as county manager of Columbus County for over five years, bringing a wealth of experience to the Town of Red Springs. Before that, he was the Public Utilities Director of Onslow County and as the facilitator of the Duplin County Center for Leadership.
There has been many accomplishments during his first year at town manager, but Mr. Farmer states there is still a lot to learn and it has gone really well. The Town Board of Commissioners met last week in closed session to review his performance evaluation.
“I thought my first year went really well,” said Farmer. “I’ve been learning. I’ve been in a learning mode. Being a manager, there are things like saving people money, making sure their money is well spent, making sure the staff is productive and well-trained by having safe working conditions. And that’s the core of what a manager should be doing.
Every community has its unique personality, it unique set of needs and wants and attributes and in that respect, I’ve been in that learning mode.”
He says he’s proud of many things, but most of all, was saving the town some five million dollars to the town’s wastewater plant.
“Being instrumental in reducing the anticipated cost of sewer construction by at least $5,000,000 will have a tremendous positive effect on the cost of such service to our citizens,” he states.
“Another thing that I am proud over my first year is that very early on, we had come up with a long range plan,” said Farmer. “With that, we’re looking at what gives us the highest probability of prospering. We felt that being a bedroom community to the Ft. Bragg Military Base, that would be our niche. All the factors were there but the housing. This has been something we can look back on in keeping up with our long term planning. This is keeping up with our vision of being a bedroom community. This long ranger planning keeps us on a constant focus for the town. We are remaining constantly focused in that direction instead of running in so many directors and not going anywhere. I’m really proud of that.”
He is also proud of his work with staff productivity. He has identified low productivity among certain segments of staff and implemented management procedures to enhance productivity. He states based on an annual payroll of approximately 2.3 million dollars, and an estimate average across the board productivity increase of fifteen percent, and an increase in services to residents worth $350,000 per year has occurred.
There are many things, he says, that he has started but did not get finished in his first year.
“In all honesty, I’ve probably been too aggressive to put fourth an effort by speaking us about as thin as we could spread, but still accomplish most of these objectives in a very desirable manner,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more opportunities and that we can excel on as a community. But I don’t want to get over extended or I’m going to lose all those opportunities.”
He says he has some had some weaknesses over the year and his main was not getting out to the community as much as he would have liked.
He states that he plans to get out more and welcomes everyone to come by and see him, with or without problems.
“There are things that we still have to work out and really need the support, understanding and patience of the community,” he said. “There are other things that we have started that we feel are very good for the community of Red Springs.”

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