Town Manager Awarded Contract 647% Higher Than Town’s Median Income

Town Manager Awarded Contract 647% Higher Than Town’s Median Income

The Town of Rocky Mount announced Robert J. Wood as its newest town manager.

Wood will replace James Ervin, who is retiring after 14 years in the position.

The national search for the new town manager was aided by the Berkley Group of Bridgewater, Virginia, and was narrowed from 12 candidates to four remaining finalists for interviews.

The Town Council unanimously approved the employment agreement with Wood April 12.

Rocky Mount Town Manager Robert J. Wood
Rocky Mount Town Manager Robert J. Wood

Wood is the former city administrator of West Lake Hills, Texas, a city of about 3,400 west of Austin. He was unceremoniously terminated in August of 2019. West Lake Hills Mayor Linda Anthony expressed appreciation for Wood’s 12 years of service and said the city is fully bound to adhere to contractual obligations.

Former West Lake Hills Mayor David Claunch stated, “City Council’s decision on Aug. 28 to terminate Wood’s employment contract had come as quite a surprise. Equally surprising was the council’s decision to have only a two-day transition period before his departure on August 30.”

Mr. Wood then briefly served as the interim Town Manager in Bastrop, Texas. Wood was not a city employee and instead received compensation through Strategic Government Resources. The city paid the consulting firm $117.67 per hour for Wood’s services. The hourly rate was determined by the amount of money the city had budgeted for his position — $247,367.

Wood was not hired to be the full-time manager.

Mr. Woods job search then took him to Truro, Massachusetts. Mr. Wood was actually announced as the new Town Manager pending contract negotiations.

The Provincetown Independent reported that Wood “turned out to be the wrong man for the job.”

“The Truro Select Board issued a terse statement on Sept. 1, saying that the board had to let Robert Wood, of Texas, go, following a discussion on his compensation package that was held in a closed-door meeting on Aug. 31.”

It seems that Mr. Wood made salary demands that the Town could not meet. In 2015, he earned $179,837 in West Lake Hills, and Truro would not pay more than $160,000.

Mr. Wood then turned his attention to Rocky Mount. His current employment agreement sets his salary at $140,000, plus $19,280 in sundry benefits his first year. Additionally, Mr. Wood will be given a total of 39 days of paid time off. That paid time off is worth about $15,000.

Former Town Manager James C. Ervin and Rocky Mount, Virginia Corruption
Former Rocky Mount Town Manger James C. Ervin

Mr. Wood’s predecessor had a salary of $125,000.

Mr. Wood’s compensation package is 647% higher than the $26,927 median household income for the town.

Rocky Mount trails both state and national averages in per capita income growth and in median income growth. About 16.6% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 14.0% of those age 65 or over.

Town Council unanimously approved Mr. Wood’s conract.

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