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City Manager Ron Carlee To Step Down

Julie Rose
Ron Carlee arrived in Charlotte in 2013.

For the last three years, Ron Carlee has served as Charlotte’s City Manager, responsible for running the day to day operations of the 16th largest city in America. Carlee’s contract expires in March. Carlee announced Wednesday night that he won't seek a new contract, although it's unclear if he would have been offered one.

Ron Carlee began his stint as Charlotte city manager in 2013 as an outsider. Carlee relocated from the Washington, DC, area where he had been working with the International City and County Management Association. " I don't see myself coming in to take over this organization," Carlee told the council, "I see myself coming in to facilitate the leadership and talent of those already here and be a part of that team."

From the beginning, Carlee was very public, and some felt brash. He launched audits of many city department, hoping they would lead to what he referred to as "best practices." That reportedly rubbed some city staffers the wrong way.

When Chief Rodney Monroe decided to retire last year, some, including members of the city council, wondered if Carlee was to blame. Deciding whether to renew Carlee’s contract became an election year issue for the council, though they put that debate off until the new council was seated.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts created a committee in December to decide if the city should renew Carlee’s contract. The Charlotte Observer reports that five-person committee of council members couldn’t agree whether to renew the contract. The city and Ron Carlee say that’s not right, that it was Carlee himself who decided his time as manager is over. The city sent out a letter from Carlee which reads in part, “The work I came to help the council achieve has largely been accomplished.”

But the timing of all of this is problematic at best. The council is now in budget season, a time when the city manager’s input and guidance is critical. And the city has not named an interim manager or a timeline for when a search for a replacement would be launched.

As for Carlee, his contract is up in March but he could stay on longer if asked by the council.

Tom Bullock decided to trade the khaki clad masses and traffic of Washington DC for Charlotte in 2014. Before joining WFAE, Tom spent 15 years working for NPR. Over that time he served as everything from an intern to senior producer of NPR’s Election Unit. Tom also spent five years as the senior producer of NPR’s Foreign Desk where he produced and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon among others. Tom is looking forward to finally convincing his young daughter, Charlotte, that her new hometown was not, in fact, named after her.