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Following resignation of city manager, some propose changing form of government

Corbin City Manager Mike Phillips resigned Monday.

Just over five months on the job, Mike Phillips abruptly resigned Monday night as Corbin City Manager.

The move came at the end of the regular monthly meeting of the Corbin City Commission following an executive session.

Phillips stepped into the position in January after an exhaustive search following the resignation of Bill Ed Cannon last year.
According to McBurney, Phillips announced his decision during an executive session held at the end of the meeting.

"It kind of surprised us," McBurney said, noting neither he nor the commissioners had any complaints about Phillips' job performance. "He said he wanted to talk to us and told us Friday would be his last day."

The inexplicable move came without warning.

Phillips attended the monthly meeting of the town's Tourism and Convention Commission earlier in the day and discussed with that board the city's current budget process. He gave no indication at the time his employment with the city would end anytime soon.

Phil Gregory, the city's longest serving commissioner, denied that city leaders had asked Phillips to resign or pressured him in any way.

"I think he was just homesick," Gregory said.

Gregory added that the commission was still evaluating how well Phillips was performing.

"He still had a report card. We hadn't totaled up his score yet," Gregory said. "He could have been a good one. Who knows?"

McBurney and the commissioners agreed to give Phillips a 30-day severance package even though he wasn't terminated. Commissioner Joe Shelton defended the move as fair.

"It was kindness, I guess," Shelton said. "It was fair. He incurred quite a bit of moving expenses and things like that. That's really all I can say about it."

The search for a new city manager will begin immediately. The first step is to publicly advertise that position is available.
In the interim, McBurney said he would take over the manager's duties temporarily.

"That is the quickest fix," McBurney said, noting the process to find a new manager can take several months. "If we see it is going to run for an extended period, we may have to look at appointing an interim manager."

McBurney noted this is a critical time for the city manager position to be vacant, as work has begun on drawing up the city's annual budget.

If at least one city commissioner has his way, the days are numbered for the city manager's position.

"We need to change Corbin's form of government to a council-mayor system," said Commissioner Joe Butch White.

White noted that the first step is to circulate a petition requesting such a change and have it signed by Corbin residents. Then, the issue would be voted on as a ballot initiative.

"I understand one is circulating now," White said. "I'd like whoever is circulating it to call me because I would like to sign it."

Gregory said he favors switching to a Mayor-Council form of government as well.

"We just need to do it another way," Gregory said. "We are the only city around here that has a city manager. It's hard to get a good one because there's none out there."

"If we had it a mayor-council system, every four years if you don't like who is in there, you can vote them out."

Phillips refused to comment on the situation. His last official day with the city will be Friday.



kim (May 14, 2012) Reply

I may be way wrong here, but aren't we in effect, being governed by a council-mayor system already? When, when, when will Corbin wake up and change some things?? I believe the majority of the citizens want things to be a little more proactive/progressive, but it all boils down to which side of the downtown heirarchy wins the argument. The folks who are in charge of our governing can't even get along with each other long enough to effect positive change. It's a power struggle between the same old-same old. Read Tim Thompson's letter in the News Journal and you'll hear the same plea. And if Mr. Phillips is leaving for some other reason, I apologize for jumping the gun, but it's my guess that the frustration is just too much for one person to tackle. A little teamwork would go a long way....with some new team captains!

J. Lyman Stone (May 19, 2012) Reply

Corbin has had its share of controversy concerning City Managers over the years. I agree with Joe that there should be a major change, but will we still need a city manager if the Mayor-Council takes over? Dick Vermillion did a fair job, followed by several others. But some of the City Managers would use the office as their own personal lunch wagon and expense account. Corbin is still behind the times with adequate pay scales for its employees, not just the police and fire depts but the other depts as well. The public works dept is out in all kinds of weather and work like dogs but get paid a little above minimum wage. Corbin could be a great city if some things changed. Vote for me for County Attorney and I will make sure that the DUI's are prosecuted in a timely manner.

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