Lawing rolls up his sleeves, offers impressions of first week on the job
Marty Lawing knew when he took the county manager’s job, the timing was not good.
There’s a county budget to be passed, several important department heads to appoint and commissioners to meet. Lawing started work May 6. He gave these impressions this week about the work so far.
Budget: Interim Manager Sharisse Fuller presented the suggested 2014 county budget last week. Guilford has a budget of about $600 million, three times the amount Lawing saw in Brunswick County.
“It’s was not good timing for me for the budget,” he said. “There has been good work from the staff and the budget committee, and I have made a few suggestions. We’ll look forward to the work sessions and to work on what is in and out of the budget, so that the board can be comfortable with it.”
Style: Lawing has a conservative budget style. Brunswick County became known for low taxes. The county’s tedious budget process can be refined through time, he said.
“You want to be sure the revenue projections are as accurate as possible,” he said, “and expenditures should be needed to meet those levels. In the next few years, we can refine the process by looking at the goals and objectives for the year. The longer you can wait to get the numbers, the more accurate you can be so that you won’t have to cut as much.”
Staff: Fuller, who also has been human resources director, is expected to retire soon. She is one of several key administrators Lawing and commissioners will have to hire, if the budget allows. Director vacancies include county facilities, information systems and emergency services.
“The human resources position will be the first one to fill,” Lawing said. “We’ll start on that in the next few weeks. I’m looking at the others to get a feel. I think we will stagger the announcements and not try to fill all the jobs at once.”
Party split: Lawing worked with a party split for a few years in Brunswick County until the board shifted to all Republican.
“I can’t say the shift impacted the budget,” Lawing said. “That does not always relate to partisanship. The two Democrats on that board were fiscal conservatives.” After his hiring, there were misgivings among three Democratic commissioners who said Lawing was their second choice. Lawing said he hopes that the hard feelings have passed.
“I have not met all the commissioners yet,” he said. “I hope we do move on.”
What’s good about Guilford County?
“I think the county has a good employee base and the people are very professional,” Lawing said. “They have been very helpful in getting me settled in. We want to work to have an even stronger team. We can improve.”
Family: Wife, Susan; stepson, Taylor, 30
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Appalachian State, 1983 and 1985.
Experience: City administrator of Bishopville, S.C., 1986-88; city administrator of Bennettsville, S.C., 1988-95; city administrator of Conway, S.C., 1995 to 2001; county manager of Brunswick County, April 2001 to May 2013.
Salary: $183,000 base per year