Robinson Resigns as Member of Robbins Town Board
Buddy Robinson has resigned from the Robbins Town Board.
"To whom it may concern," he wrote, in a tersely worded note handed in late Tuesday. "Due to conflict of interest by being a town commissioner and an employee of the town of Robbins, I regretfully resign my position as town commissioner effective Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006."
Robinson had hoped to remain on the board, encouraged by events of the past year.
"We are doing a whole lot of things right now," Robinson said in June. "A lot is happening. I would like to see some of them all the way through. NC STEP opened a lot of doors for us. Things will better Robbins. I'd like to see some of these things finished. To me, it is important to see our town prosper once again. That's what I would like to do."
Being on the board did put him in an awkward position as a town employee. In a sense, he was supervising his own supervisor, Brant Sikes, the town's new public works supervisor. It was a temporary conflict, as both Sikes and Robinson would soon be reporting to an interim town manager.
Robbins changed its charter in September from a mayor/council form of government to manager/council. Under that kind of municipal structure, a manager runs all town operations, including hiring, supervision and dismissal of employees.
Robinson had hoped to remain on the board and help draft the search criteria an job description for the town's first manager.
"I think town manager is a good move," he had said. "I see things happening by going that route. It will cut out a lot of conflict right now with too many people trying to tell others what to do. This way we will have less misunderstanding about who is supposed to do what. The other way is hard for employees, puts them in an awkward position to have so many people who can tell them what to do."
There was nothing wrong originally with working for the town while being on the board at the same time, he said. It was not, at that time, a conflict of interest. The town attorney had approved it, as far as the law was concerned.
With the charter change, that also changed. Under the new charter, the manager (subject to any contract terms) serves at the pleasure of the board. That would create a clear conflict of interest.
"With the new structure it will be," Robinson said. "We will have to work together and let the manager do his job."
Originally, he had decided to quit his job in order to stay on the board through the crises of change.
"If I gave up the board for a job, I feel like I would be quitting on the town," Robinson said in June. "I can do more for the town and its employees if I stay on the board. I just feel like it is more important."
The town of Robbins is paying the cost of his Medicare supplement as an employee. Staying on the board, and leaving the job, would cost Robinson that important health benefit. He had hoped he could stay at least until some manager was in place.
Town boards have to make decisions on financial matters that directly affect employees: benefits, compensation, employment policies of all sorts.
The expected awkwardness came to bear much earlier than anticipated, according to other board members who asked not to be identified. Sikes is an active, hands-on supervisor.
The matter came to a head at last week's meeting of town commissioners. It included a lengthy closed session with town attorney Douglas Gill. Such closed sessions deal with legal or personnel issues.
Robinson, a longtime Robbins resident, has high hopes for the town's future.
After a series of devastating economic losses, the tide may be turning, he said. Residents are coming together and are getting both help and encouragement from other parts of Moore County and state agencies like the N.C. Rural Center.
"NC STEP opened a lot of doors for us, things that will better Robbins," he said. "I'd like to see some of these things finished. To me, it is important to see our town prosper once again. That's what I would like to do."
The board, which only recently appointed Lynn Loy to fill out the term of Mary Wood when she resigned -- will now have to find another commissioner to succeed Robinson.
"We hate to lose Buddy from the board," said Mayor Mickey Brown. "But, due to the change in our charter to town manager, he could only fill one position. I, as well as the board, thank him for his term of service to Robbins."
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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