Myrtle Beach assistant city manager John Pedersen is expected to become the next city manager later this year.
Myrtle Beach City Council voted to offer the position to Pedersen, who has served as an assistant city manager since 2002, to be the next city manager after Tom Leath retires.
Leath, who has been with the city for 29 years, announced in January his plans to retire by the end of the year.
“This is one of the most important decisions we’ve had to make in the past 25 years, choosing who is going to lead our city,” Mayor John Rhodes said.
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The city will negotiate a contract with Pedersen and it will be signed and made public at future City Council meeting.
City Council members said they were glad they went through the process of using an executive search firm to facilitate the hiring process.
More than 80 people applied to be the next city manager and Georgia-based Slavin Management Consultants narrowed the applicants to about 18. City Council interviewed six candidates before naming four finalists.
“I think we had some fine candidates for this position,” Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said. “Some had the kind of experience that we might need in Myrtle Beach, but none had the advantage of being hre for the past 12-and-a-half years. ... and the understand of what we do every year.
“I’m glad we went through this process,” she said. “I can be comfortable that we’ve looked around and seen what they have to offer.”
Pedersen will have to lead the city through next year’s Memorial Day weekend safety plans, continue to grow tourism – specifically sports tourism – and handle the city’s $156.7 million budget.
City officials have worked since May to come up with a safety plan for Memorial Day weekend, which turned deadly this year. Three people died and seven were injured in eight shootings that weekend on Ocean Boulevard.
Getting control of the weekend, when tens of thousands flock the Grand Strand to participate in Atlantic Beach Bikefest, Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days or to take advantage of a three-day weekend at the beach – is among the issues any new city manager would have to tackle.
“The biggest thing is to complete the plan for Memorial Day and begin the implementation for that plan, the training that’s necessary,” he said. “That’s the priority.”
Ron Andrews serves as the city’s other assistant city manager and Pedersen said Myrtle Beach has so much going on he thinks it needs to continue to have two assistant city managers.
“We’re not a big city population-wise, but we do big city things,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen said the position would be advertised and the city would go through a hiring process before he selected a new assistant city manager.
The other finalists included Greer city administrator Ed Driggers – who withdrew his name early Monday, former James City County administrator Bob Middaugh and Easley city administrator Fox Simons.
“The process of applying, interviewing, and being publicly named as a finalist in Myrtle Beach has made me realize that my work in Greer is not quite finished,” Driggers said in a letter to Rhodes.
A contract could be signed between Pedersen and the city as soon as next Tuesday’s council meeting.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.