Politics & Government

Charlotte City Council pushes back city manager decision to 2016

The Charlotte City Council decided in closed session Monday not to offer City Manager Ron Carlee a contract extension this summer, and instead pushed the decision on his future to a new council.
The Charlotte City Council decided in closed session Monday not to offer City Manager Ron Carlee a contract extension this summer, and instead pushed the decision on his future to a new council. Observer file photo

The Charlotte City Council decided in closed session Monday not to offer City Manager Ron Carlee a contract extension this summer, and instead pushed the decision on his future to a new council, which will take office in December.

Carlee is in the last year of a three-year contract that expires in April.

During the Monday meeting, some council members criticized Carlee’s management style, according to people who were part of the conversation. But there wasn’t a push to make a change now – nor was there enough support to work on a contract extension.

One factor is that the city is bracing for any negative impact from the trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick, who shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell in September 2013. Jury selection in the case is almost finished.

Handling the Kerrick case has been one of Carlee’s priorities, and he has worked to keep the city from facing civil unrest that has plagued Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.

Carlee participated in Monday’s meeting and told council members he would consider their comments and decide whether he would like to continue managing the city.

In May, after former police Chief Rodney Monroe announced he would be retiring, council members met in closed session about possible friction between Monroe and Carlee. During that meeting, some council members asked for an up or down vote on the manager, but that didn’t happen.

When Carlee came to Charlotte from the International City/County Management Association, he asked for a three-year contract, which was unusual for the city. The previous manager, Curt Walton, was an at-will employee.

Council members have not had a public discussion of the manager’s performance since he was hired. Under previous managers, there would be a public vote on setting the manager’s annual pay.

Carlee’s contract pays him $290,000 a year in salary and deferred compensation. He also gets to use a city car.

Carlee’s supporters point to his ability to handle the city’s deep budget crisis this year. They also say he has made city employees accountable during his more than two years in Charlotte.

But some council members believe he makes decisions without including them in the thought process. And a number of high executives have left under his tenure, which has sparked concern.

It’s possible that the next council will be almost identical to the body that discussed his performance Monday. All seven district representatives are running for re-election, as are two of the four at-large council members.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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