BEAUFORT — Beaufort town manager John Day, who has served as the top staff member in the seaside town since early 2017, will retire in December.
He informed town commissioners of his intent following an annual performance review, conducted in closed session Wednesday at the town train depot on Broad Street.
Mr. Day was not immediately available to speak on his departure, but said in a Thursday email, “For now I’ll just say I am absolutely thrilled to be retiring soon!”
The town formally announced his retirement plans in a release Friday afternoon.
“Despite numerous hurricanes and a pandemic, Beaufort has experienced unprecedented success during John’s tenure as town manager,” Mayor Rett Newton said in the release. “… John will be missed but he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy. Thanks to his amazing leadership, the future of Beaufort is very bright!”
Several town commissioners did not respond to a request for comment Thursday on the evaluation or word of Mr. Day’s plan to retire. Commissioner John Hagle, however, credited the manager for implementing “significant changes.”
“Particularly John made great improvements in the town’s budgeting process and put in place an excellent 5 year financial planning process,” Mr. Hagle noted in a Friday email to the News-Times. “He obtained the debt service needed for a nearly 30 million dollar infrastructure project that will result in many needed improvements in Beaufort’s water, sewer and streets infrastructure. John improved the capabilities of the town staff, particularly by the creation the Public Services Administration and Engineer Department. I thank him for his great work and wish him the very best in his retirement.”
The manager’s evaluation happens in the closed session in accordance with state law regarding personnel matters.
However, following the review Wednesday, the board agreed to a 5% lump sum bonus for the manager, totaling $7,281.05, and a 4% salary increase. With the increase, Mr. Day’s salary stands at $151,445.89 annually.
In recent months, the board, spearheaded by Commissioner Sharon Harker, has worked to revamp the review process for the top position.
In an email Friday, Ms. Harker seemed pleased with the rollout of the new performance review.
“I felt the updated evaluation policy and process went smoothly,” she said. “Through consensus, we were able to work together as a board to fairly evaluate the town manager and provide goals for the year.”
Mr. Day, who prior to working in Beaufort served as the assistant city manager in Lenoir, as well as budget officer and county manager in Cabarrus County, joined the town in February 2017 and has led Beaufort through a period of growth.
In the Friday release, he highlighted several of his achievements, including the implementation of the five-year budgeting process, improvements to the environment in town hall for staff, the removal of derelict vessels from the town’s waterways, pedestrian upgrades and more.
Beaufort has undergone a significant residential boom the past few years, along with recovery from two major storms, Hurricane Florence in 2018 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019. From town hall, Mr. Day led staff through the recent award of a massive $23.6 million grant and loan package for infrastructure improvements and paving initiatives, as well as the collection of a portion of two decades’ worth of unpaid lease fees from the Inlet Inn and other litigation, including a $70,000 settlement in November in a sexual harassment and wrongful termination suit involving other employees.
In the release, the town said the board would begin the search for new leadership immediately using a private firm, The Mercer Group Associates.
Reporter's note: This article was updated with a full report at 2:42 p.m. Friday, July 30, 2021.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.