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Summerville leaders select town’s new administrator

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 12:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:50 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Summerville Town Council voted late Wednesday afternoon to offer the town administrator job to a former town employee.

Council members selected Lisa Wallace, the current assistant city manager for Myrtle Beach, and approved a three-year contract.

“Lisa’s local government experience and previous service to the Town gives myself and council a sense of familiarity as we move forward,” Summerville Mayor Ricky Waring said. “Her qualifications, professionalism, and leadership skills prove that she’s the best person for this job. I’m proud to welcome her back to Summerville.”

Wallace worked for the town of Summerville from 1996 to 2016, serving in a number of roles including clerk, treasurer, assistant town administrator, director of administrative services and special assistant to the mayor, Summerville town spokesperson Mary Edwards said.

Wallace served as the city manager for the city of York from 2016 to 2019, when she took the assistance city manager role in Myrtle Beach.

“I’m excited to be back in Summerville and grateful to council for the opportunity to serve as town administrator,” Wallace said late Wednesday. “I appreciate the trust and confidence in being selected for this position and will work to maintain and improve the outstanding quality of life we have in Summerville.”

The position will pay $170,000 and her first day on the job will be July 8, Edwards said.

Vote followed former manager’s termination during Saturday meeting

Rebecca Vance was hired as the town’s administrator on January 31, 2020. However, nearly a year...
Rebecca Vance was hired as the town’s administrator on January 31, 2020. However, nearly a year and six months into her contract, the mayor and town council members voted to fire immediately and without cause, according to draft minutes of Saturday’s meeting.(Town of Summerville)

Council made the selection days after a vote during a special meeting on Saturday to terminate the town’s contract with its former administrator, Rebecca Vance. Vance was hired as the town’s administrator on Jan. 31, 2020. However, nearly a year and six months into her contract, the mayor and town council members voted to fire her immediately and without cause, according to draft minutes of Saturday’s meeting.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about why Vance was let go. Saturday’s special-called meeting was announced just over 24 hours before council members would gather to terminate her contract.

According to meeting minutes, all but two of the town’s council members voted to end her time in the role.

Most of the council members wanted to fire Vance because they believed Vance was taking the town in a different direction than what the mayor or council wanted.

One council member, Terry Jenkins, said he believed “there was a fundamental and philosophical difference between the Town Administrator and the Mayor and Council in dealings with daily interactions with Council and staff.”

Council member Bill McIntosh said he voted to terminate without cause “because he believes that the Town Administrator was not a good fit for this Council,” and council member Aaron Brown stated “there was a dichotomy between the Administrator and Mayor/Council as to who was in charge of the Town.”

Council members Kim Garten-Schmidt and Bob Jackson voted against the termination, and Jackson also voted against meeting in executive session on Saturday to discuss Vance’s termination.

“He did not think it was right to call a meeting on a Saturday morning when there was no time to get all of the facts regarding the issue,” draft meeting minutes stated.

Vance’s contract was signed on Jan. 31, 2020, but her term didn’t officially begin until March 9, 2020, according to her contract. She was set to remain as the town’s administrator for three years and make an annual gross salary of $165,000.

According to meeting minutes, Vance’s contract was terminated by the town involuntarily. Her contract states that the town must pay her a lump sum payment in the amount equal to her gross salary and benefits, “which would normally be paid over a period of one hundred eighty days.” Town officials have not yet released how much that amount will be.

The Summerville town council gathered Saturday morning to fire Vance while she was in Myrtle Beach for a meeting of the South Carolina City and County Managers Association. She was chosen during that meeting by the association’s members to lead as its president. Allison Burkey with the SCCCMA said Vance will remain president as there didn’t seem to be any ethical misconduct with her termination as Summerville’s town administrator.

“We allow the manager up to a year to be searching for a new position if they are in a director or officer position,” Burkey said.

In a press release from the town of Summerville announcing Vance’s hiring last year, Mayor Ricky Waring acknowledged Vance’s experience.

“Rebecca Vance has a strong background in local government and administrator experience,” Waring said in 2020. “Council is impressed with her qualifications, leadership experience, and high ethical standards. We look forward to the tremendous amount of value, transparency, and innovation she’ll bring to Summerville.”

Before her time as the town’s administrator, Vance served as the Deputy Administrator of Community Services for Dorchester County. She also served as the City Manager of Cayce, the City Administrator of Manning, and the Town Administrator of Summerton. “She also worked for the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments and the Sumter City-County Planning Commission earlier in her career,” the press released stated.

“I’m honored to work in Summerville with a council that’s passionate about their people and with a staff that values teamwork and service,” Vance said in 2020. “I appreciate the trust and confidence in being selected for this position. I look forward to giving back to a community that has given me so much throughout my life.”

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