Town manager to resign, announces at board meeting

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PITTSBORO — Town Manager Chris Kennedy, who’s helped lead Pittsboro’s recent effort to merge water and wastewater systems with the city of Sanford, submitted his resignation to the board of commissioners Monday night, citing a desire to establish better work-life balance.

Kennedy, who was appointed as town manager in July 2020, submitted the surprise resignation in a closed session held at the start of the meeting. Several commissioners expressed admiration for Kennedy and disappointment over the news.

“I’m happy for him,” Commissioner Kyle Shipp said after the meeting. “...I think it needs to happen, but it’s definitely a surprise.”

After the meeting, Kennedy called the resignation “bittersweet,” telling the News + Record it wasn’t an easy decision.

“There’s a lot going on here (in the town), and I’ve been fully invested in that,” he said. “But I’ve got a 14-month-old daughter and a wife who has sacrificed a lot of her career for me. And so I really kind of felt the need to recalibrate that a little bit, find some better balance. But (I) still look forward to continuing and helping the public and everything I can.”

Kennedy’s last day will be Sept. 9. Though he wouldn’t say where he was working next, Kennedy said he and his family would be leaving Pittsboro and that he hopes to help the town in its transition as it finds a new manager.

Other business

• In addition to Kennedy’s resignation, commissioners also discussed the town’s settlement and release with Eagles Enterprise and Eagles Management Corporation during the closed session. The gas station developers originally filed a lawsuit against Pittsboro in 2018, claiming their proposed plan was improperly rejected and the town did not follow its own rules in postponing approval, according to the reporting from the Raleigh News & Observer.

Kennedy said Eagles Enterprise was seeking legal fees to close the lawsuit out, and commissioners unanimously approved a motion to accept fees of $5,000 payable to the Eagles’ attorneys and to execute a lease agreement.

• Kennedy also provided an update on the merger of Pittsboro and Sanford’s wastewater utility systems.

Freese and Nichols Inc. — the consulting engineering firm on the project — has developed a scope of work, which outlines what tasks the firm would be responsible for should a merger take place.

FNI will help conduct a study that considers financial options and impacts, system operation, assets and other factors associated with a merger. The firm will also carry out a rate analysis and develop a multi-year rate plan for three scenarios: the town only, the town with a merged system and the city with a merged system.

Kennedy said the “meat and potatoes” of considerations is in determining what utility rates will be based on a merger. Staff has discussed a water-sewer capital improvement plan that would cost $175 million, Kennedy said.

“Somebody’s going to have to pay that tab,” he said.

Kennedy said staff is trying to be strategic in evaluating funding streams, citing efforts to work through state revolving funds applications and the board’s acceptance as being classified as a distressed utility.

• Town staff has also been dealing with COVID-19 infections, so Kennedy has closed Town Hall for the remainder of the week and moved meetings off-site to accommodate for the shift.

The board’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro.

Reporter Maydha Devarajan can be reached at mdevarajan@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @maydhadevarajan.

Chris Kennedy, town manager, Pittsboro, merger, water, sewer

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