STANTON — At first glance, he may appear too young for the job, but Stanton City Manager James Freed is a true heavyweight when it comes to his performance as a public servant.
This according to a recent evaluation by the Stanton City Commission and Mayor Monica Tissue-Daws.
The commission briefly went into closed session at its regular meeting Tuesday evening to discuss Freed’s performance as manager over the past 12 months. The outcome of that session was for the most part a foregone conclusion: In virtually every category in which a manager is rated, Freed earned above-average marks.
Those categories include personal effort, professional skills and status, relations with the city commission and implementation of city policy.
“I appreciate the city manager’s efforts to move forward with the infrastructure issue and proactively put in place maintenance, repair and improvement plans and procedures,” said Tissue-Daws. “The city’s physical appearance has improved and we can all be proud of the progress made. James Freed is the best thing that has ever happened to Stanton.
“A year and a half ago, there were those who questioned the decision to hire a city manager,” she added. “I think we can say that this commission made a great decision and we thank James for sticking with us.”
Freed also serves as village manager of Lakeview with the two communities cooperatively sharing his work hours.
Freed showed appreciation toward commission members Tuesday evening and thanked them for their confidence in his abilities.
“Serving both Lakeview and Stanton is truly the most humbling thing in my life and my greatest challenge,” Freed said. “I recognize this is an opportunity to lead and I don’t intend to squander the moment.”
The commission also voted in favor of a 2 percent pay raise for all city employees, with the exception of Freed, who works under a separate contract. The 2 percent figure was suggested by Freed after much evaluation and in light of the fact that city employees have seen no pay raises in at least five years.
“We’d love to be able to give them more,” Freed said. “But we have to do this in a financially responsible way.”
The pay raise was\ passed by unanimous vote. The raise becomes effective immediately.
Also on the agenda was a decision to purchase a video projector for the city office. Currently, when Freed or other commission members need to make a video presentation, the projector must be borrowed from another department.
A new projector would allow easy public viewing of the commission’s agenda, as well as other documents, video and computer presentations.
“The projector serves a very valuable purpose,” Freed said. “When going over our budget with residents, it’s important. I feel that at times we’ve had big crowds here and using the projector was a kind of make or break situation.”
Tissue-Days suggested it would probably be a good idea to purchase a screen as well, in order to provide a brighter image for residents sitting toward the back of the room.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see from there,” Tissue-Daws said.
Commissioner Krista King suggested that grant money might be available to purchase the projector, but Freed indicated that would be unlikely given the city’s current financial status as well as grant monies presently available.
After some discussion, the commission voted unanimously to purchase the projector at an estimated cost of $1,600, including all electrical and video hookup.