Michael Talbert Named Interim Orange County Manager

ORANGE COUNTY – Michael Talbert has been named interim Orange County Manager. He has served as the assistant County Manager since 2011.

Talbert told WCHL News that he doesn’t plan to apply for permanent position.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep going in the initiatives the Board already has underway and move forward with their goals for the next six months. I hope to provide some stability during the search for the next county manager.”

Barry Jacobs, Chair of the County Commissioners, said Talbert’s experience made him the right person for the position.

“We had several really good candidates and we were fortunate to have two outstanding internal candidates,” Jacobs said. “We decided to ask Mr. Talbert to serve the citizens of Orange County until we hire a permanent manager.”

The announcement was made at Tuesday night’s Board meeting.

Frank Clifton, who has been County Manager since 2009, said in June that he would step down effective on September 29.

The Board of Commissioners will begin meeting with consulting firms next month to assist in the County Manager search process.

“We have the benefit of having someone we already know and trust to be able to take our time to make sure that we get the right person for the permanent position,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said that there were three candidates for the interim position, with one  of whom was from outside of Orange County. He said the other internal candidate had strong qualifications and will be able to apply for the permanent position.

Jacobs said Talbert assumed the leadership role for the county on several assignments, including a seat on the Rogers Road Task Force and as a staff liaison in improving infrastructure upgrades in the Emergency Services Department.

“He’s a deliberate, unassuming, intelligent, knowledgeable person for whom who have assigned some of the most difficult tasks with one person applying from outside of Orange County.

Talbert joined the County’s administrative team in 2010, with experience in financial services and management,and served as the Finance Director of Catawba County and County Manager of Polk County, both in North Carolina.


Search Is On For Next Orange County Manager

CHAPEL HILL – As the date for Orange County Manager Frank Clifton’s resignation approaches, Barry Jacobs, Chair of the County Commissioners, says the Board hopes to have a permanent county manager in place by late winter.

Jacobs says the Board plans to hire an interim director within the next two weeks “if things go according to plan.” He wouldn’t specify if the Board is promoting someone within or bringing in an outside hire.

“That should at least get us through the period while we are searching with minimal disruption,” Jacobs says. “I feel confident that we can do this in an expeditious manner, but without having the pressure to change regimes too quickly.”

Clifton, who announced in June that he would step down on September 29, was hired as the Interim County Manager in 2009 and was found through the Association of County Commissioners. He then applied for the permanent position, but had to go through the process of reapplying and competing with other applicants found through a consulting firm, the Mercer Group.

The firm was used in the past two county manager searches in 2009 and in 2006, when Laura Blackmon was hired following John Link’s retirement after almost two decades of service, according Donna Baker, Clerk to Board of County Commissioners. Baker says the cost of using the Mercer Group in 2009 was between $20,000 and $25,000.

Jacobs says it is a hefty cost but can be worth it to find the best candidates.

“So with me personally spending it, I would say it is very expensive. If it is the County spending it, $20,000 out of an $180 million budget, it is surprisingly inexpensive,” Jacobs says.

The Mercer Group was also used for the county attorney search in 2009.

Jacobs says Nicole Clark, the County’s Human Resources Director, solicited a number of firms for bids and has narrowed it down to five firms.

“We have solicited proposals from consulting firms and hopefully before the end of September we’ll have someone [a consulting firm] in place to begin working with us to flush out the parameters of the search,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs says it is too early in the process to say which firms the County is considering at this point. He adds that once an interim director is in place, should they decide to apply for the permanent position, they will have to compete against other candidates found through the consulting firm.