QUESTION: What is the current status of Green Level council member Michael Trollinger’s contract to serve as the town’s interim municipal administrator?
ANSWER: For roughly the past six months, Michael Trollinger has done double duty as both a member of Green Level’s town council and as the town’s interim administrator.
Trollinger, who is also a candidate to become town’s permanent administrator, has previously said that he’ll give up his seat on the council if his colleagues select him for this post on an ongoing basis. In the meantime, however, the town’s interim administrator has found it necessary to step back from his role as a council member as his colleagues edge ever closer to rendering a final decision on the administrator’s position.
Trollinger said that, at the council’s most recent meeting on January 9, he had to leave the room with the rest of the audience when the council went into closed session to discuss the continuation of his contract as the town’s interim administrator. Trollinger added that his colleagues ultimately shared the results of this closed-door discussion with him and the rest of the public in open session.
“My contract was extended until March 1,” the town’s interim administrator recalled, noting that the council would’ve needed three of four votes to terminate the arrangement in light of his own recusal from the decision.
The agenda from the council’s most recent meeting indicates that its members went into closed session under an exemption to North Carolina’s Open Meeting Laws that allows public bodies to discuss personnel matters behind closed doors. Although this exemption doesn’t apply to contractors, Trollinger said that he is, strictly speaking, not a contractor for the town of Green Level but a member of the town’s staff who happens to have a contract. Trollinger added that he shares this distinction with the town’s public works director, whose terms of employment are, likewise, spelled out in a written agreement.
The town’s interim administrator went on to acknowledge that he had personally requested the council’s closed session so that his colleagues could consider a potential year-long extension of his contract with the municipality. In the end, the council’s other four members agreed to add a little less than two months to the agreement as opposed to the 12 months that he had sought.
In addition to extending his contract, Trollinger said that the council has also decided to continue soliciting applications for the administrator’s post until February 1. At that point, the council will take down its advertisements for this position and begin to schedule interviews with candidates.
Trollinger added that, as the council moves forward with the selection, he plans to keep his attention fixed on the town’s day-to-day operations and leave the high-level politicking to the council’s other four members.
“I am simply a servant to the community and a servant to the town council,” he said. “I’m staying out of the fray. I have refused to play politics because at the end of the day my, number one job is to serve the citizens of Green Level and my number two job is to be a steward for the town council.”
Trollinger remained mum when asked if he’s applied for a position with any other municipality, like Swepsonville, which is currently operating without a town administrator. “I’m not at liberty to say,” Trollinger said.