KNOXVILLE — With their city manager taking part in the last meeting of his tenure with the city, the Knoxville City Council approved an interim city manager on Monday.
Heather Ussery, who is currently the assistant city manager, will serve as interim city manager as the council considers how it will replace outgoing City Manager Aaron Adams.
Ussery will receive an additional $350 per week to serve in the role.
The council began laying the groundwork for looking for a search firm to help them fill the role with a competitive hiring process.
Adams said a full-service search firm could run the city $25,000 or more. The less work expected of a search firm lowers the price. A full-service approach would take a half-year or more before a candidate would be found, hired and arrive in Knoxville.
Council members didn’t take firm action but seemed to indicate that they felt a search firm would add legitimacy to the ultimate hire.
“I think we owe to our community to know that we got the best candidate,” said councilmember
Dylan Morse. “I know that Heater’s going to do a great job, I don’t have doubts about that. … But we owe to the process to do this correctly.”
The next city manager will continue to be key in Knoxville’s, and Marion County’s, movement to redevelopment the nearly 160-acre site that formally served as the Knoxville VA hospital campus.
“[Heather] very well may surface as the best candidate, which would add legitimacy to the position,” councilmember Jyl De Jong said. “But I think Knoxville has a unique challenge right now with the VA and everything out there.”
Adams’ last day is Jan. 3. He has taken a position in Timnath, Colorado, closer to where his parents reside. He worked in Knoxville for six years, first as assistant city manager and then as city manager.
He said the decision was a difficult one.
“There’s a lot of things you can say, and a lot of cliches that get used for a time like this — but a lot of them are true for me,” Adams said. “This is not a decision that our family came to quickly or easily. We will be sad to leave this community.”