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M’boro government branded ‘unique’

MURFREESBORO — Murfreesboro’s government is unique and the key to a town administrator’s success is building communication with town council.   

That’s how former Interim Town Administrator Hugh Montgomery described the Mayor/Council form of government that runs the town as he went on the record about Town Administrator Lee Capps’ dismissal.

On Sept. 9, the Murfreesboro Town Council voted to dismiss Capps based on “failure to perform administrative duties in a timely and efficient manner and failure to inform Council of projects being worked on.”

Montgomery served as interim town administrator between Cathy Davison and Capps. He assisted with the hiring process of Capps and said he came the most qualified out of all the candidates.

There was no probationary period put forth in the employment agreement Capps signed on June 14, a copy of which was obtained by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. Montgomery said every town employee is subjected to the town’s personnel policy with the exception of the town administrator whose employee agreement supersedes the policy. 

While he acknowledges no one outside of town officials know what went on in the closed session, Montgomery said miscommunication as to what Capps was supposed to do in his role could have occurred.

“I was taken aback and saddened, obviously there was some miscommunication going on,” said Montgomery regarding Capps’ dismissal.

Montgomery said unlike nearby Ahoskie, which operates as a Council/Town Manager form of government, Murfreesboro runs as Mayor/Council. He said this unique form of government allows council members to directly deal with town departments, not something that goes on anymore in towns throughout the state.

“In Murfreesboro, there is no choke point from the department heads to officials,” he said. 

He further explained that with Mayor/Council governments the responsibilities for different town positions can get blurred because the town’s charter is not updated. In Murfreesboro, the town charter outlines the duties of the town administrator; however, Montgomery said what that person is responsible for in actuality is dissimilar.

“The reality is different than what is in the charter,” he said. “It can be very confusing sitting in that (administrator) position.” 

Montgomery also identified with town council members and the work they do.

“It’s tough to be an elected official anywhere,” he said. “They’re unique individuals that carry a tremendous burden.”

He also noted that there is nothing wrong with a Mayor/Council form of government.

He concluded, “I am disappointed Lee Capps didn’t have a chance to mature those communication lines.”