RED SPRINGS — Town Manager James Bennett has announced his retirement, but he will continue working several more months to specifically help Red Springs recover from Hurricane Matthew.
His last day is now scheduled for Dec. 13.
“This was not unexpected,” Mayor John McNeill said Wednesday. “James is ready to retire. He told me he might do some consultant work once in awhile, but he doesn’t want to continue working full-time.”
Bennett, who has been town manager for the past five years, announced his retirement plans on Tuesday during a town commissioners meeting. He made the official announcement six months before his departure as is required in his contract.
“The commissioners accepted his resignation with regrets,” McNeill said.
He told the commissioners and town employees last year that he would be retiring this December, Bennett said Wednesday.
“I plan to rest and enjoy the time I have left,” he said.
The town will begin immediately the “time consuming” process of finding Bennett’s replacement, McNeill said. Bennett will serve as manager until his retirement becomes effective.
“It is valuable for us to have him stay with us. We are working on over a million dollars in FEMA claims and involved in some major projects,” McNeill said. “He will be here so we don’t have to hire an interim manager to help us get through the processes we are in the midst of.”
Bennett was the manager of Mooresville when he was hired by Red Springs. McNeill described him as a “go-getter.”
“When he hears something, he doesn’t wait until later to move on it,” McNeill said.
McNeill credits Bennett as being the driving force behind strengthening the town’s financial conditions.
“He has done a lot to help the town get its finances in order,” he said. “He is a master at finding ways for the town to be more efficient and cutting costs.”
The mayor praised Bennett for helping “stabilize the town manager’s position.”
“From 2005, when Manager Wayne Horne after 31 years left the manager’s position to become Lumberton’s manager, until James was hired five years ago, we had two interim managers and three managers,” McNeill said.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.