MAXTON - Katrina Tatum was hired Tuesday night in a 3 to 2 vote to serve as Maxton's town manager.
“I'm very happy about it,” said Tatum, interim town manager since October 2006. “I've grown to really love Maxton.”
Commissioners Sallie McLean, Geraldine McLaurin and Gladys Dean voted to hire Tatum, while Commissioners Patsy Hamer and Ray Oxendine were opposed to making Tatum the permanent administrator. The board made the decision after meeting in closed session for about 10 minutes.
“I feel that we have always had a college graduate as our manager and I think we're stepping back,” Hamer said after the meeting. “I have talked with some of the citizens and they have had some problems with some of her people skills.”
At least 12 residents attended Tuesday's meeting to urge the board to hire Tatum.
James D. McEachin said his group - Maxton Concerned Citizens - had collected about 300 signatures on a petition supporting Tatum as town manager. McEachin said that Tatum has meshed well with the town and its residents during her seven months there.
“She came into Maxton like she's been here 15 to 20 years," he said. "There are people from all over Maxton that signed this petition.”
Maxton resident Minnie Miller said the group planned to march through town in support of Tatum if the board had not hired her.
Tatum, a Balden County native, replaces former Town Manager Eric Pearson, who resigned to become town manager in Walsenburg, Colo.
Tatum will continue to earn $1,000 per week until the board sets her annual pay. The position is expected to pay between $50,000 to $65,000 a year, according to the advertisement for the job.
Tatum, who is working toward a bachelor's degree in public administration from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said she needs about 30 credits to graduate. She withdrew from spring classes after becoming ill.
“I'm not going to stop there, I want to go get my master's in public administration as well,” Tatum said.
Tatum had previously served as interim town manager for Fairmont, but that board declined to hire her on a full-time basis. During the time she worked as town manager, Fairmont extricated itself from a financial mess.
In other business, the board gave its approval of the $909,800 budget for the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport for the 2007-2008 fiscal year.
The board amended the airport's current budget to pay $200,000 to clean up some sludge spilled into a nearby swamp. State officials ordered the clean up.
“It's basically like fertilizer, and one of our operators turned some loose into some wetlands and we're having to clean it up,” said Paul Davis, executive director of the airport. “We've done the clean up they asked for now we're waiting for another inspection.”
Davis said the extra expense would not cost Maxton residents. He said because the airport is jointly owned by both Laurinburg and Maxton it required approval from the board.
“We're self-sufficient, and the airport has always operated on its own income,” Davis said.
The board also approved spending an additional $2,700 to complete the Maxton Rescue Squad building. It will cost $2,000 for two handicapped parking spaces and $700 for remote controls to open the building's six bay doors.
The board also:
- Set a budget workshop for Tuesday, and a public hearing on the proposed 2007-2008 budget for June 27.
- Appointed Albert W. Morris to the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport Commission.
- Appointed Grace McRae and Barbara Campbell to the Maxton Recreation Committee.