Commission terminates county manager’s contract

By Gabe Monte: CNJ staff writer

Curry County commissioners voted Wednesday to terminate Dick Smith’s contract as county manager immediately.

Smith submitted his notice of resignation last week, giving 60-days notice as required under contract.

Commissioners had the option of terminating the contract sooner, which they did during Wednesday’s special meeting.

“We’ve just chosen to take the initiative,” Commission Chairman Albin Smith said after a three-hour meeting.

“When we brought Dick aboard almost three years ago, we had an agreement that it wasn’t going to be a long-term thing,” he said. “It’s a mutual agreed upon deal.”

Commissioners unanimously appointed Assistant County Manager Lance Pyle as interim County Manager until Feb. 12.

Albin Smith said the county will pay Dick Smith for the remainder of his 60 days notice period. Dick Smith’s annual salary is $102,000.
Dick Smith said he resigned for unspecified personal reasons and that he planned to stay on the job until Jan. 30.

“I would’ve been happy to do whatever they wanted but, actually, I prefer it this way, and I’d expressed that (to the commissioners),” Dick Smith said after the meeting. “And I felt that I reached my point of effectiveness and it’s time for someone to come in and take it from there.”

Albin Smith said the county will being looking for a new manager during Pyle’s term, but could extend the interim period.

Pyle said he’s interested in the position.

“It has been a goal of mine to be the county manager. But right now it’s an interim basis, it hasn’t been posted. I’m going to work with the County Commission, I’m going to work and serve the public,” he said. “And when the position gets posted, I will see where I’m at and more than likely I will put in for the position.”

As interim county manager, Pyle will oversee administrative departments of the county, which includes the finance, road, fairgrounds, detention and personnel departments.

Pyle, who also serves as Melrose’s mayor, said he has not discussed any changes in his salary with commissioners. He said he will meet with the County Commission’s chairman and vice chairman this week to discuss the details of his new assignment.