Contract hire by City of Greensboro fires up some on city council

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Greensboro City Council has asked the city manager’s office to review the hiring procedure that allowed a vocal critic of the city to land a contract job.

Ben Holder was one of two people hired just a few weeks ago to become a code enforcement consultant for the city to keep up with complaints about nuisance properties.

FOX8 tried contacting Holder about his position with the city but he did not want to comment.

“I really think the crux of the matter is we need to see why a contract was let out and only a few people knew about it,” said Marikay Abuzuaiter, a Greensboro city councilwoman who was critical of the hire and how quickly it was made.

She showed FOX8 the contract, which shows the job began at the beginning of July, just a few weeks after the job was posted.

Abuzuaiter said she questions how quickly the hire was made. She also would have preferred to know about the hire before he began work which includes prioritizing code violations at the Heritage House.

“I know Councilwoman Sharon Hightower has been working with the community and with code enforcement and with the police department so I would like to know what timeframe these services were procured and when they were completed,” said Abuzuaiter.

Hightower also brought up concerns during Tuesday night’s meeting about work done by Holder without her knowledge. She said she takes the move personally.

The city defends the quick hire. Interim Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson said the consultant job was only posted on the city web site, which is typical of a part-time job that pays less than $30,000.

Illnesses, turnover and many complaints have prompted the need for more code enforcement help. Wilson said he’d consider putting out another call for help because more help is needed.

Before that happens, Abuzuaiter hopes to sit down with the city manager’s office about changes she’d like to see moving forward.

“I’m assuming and I hope so that we will have some meetings concerning contracts and how they are let out,” said Abuzuaiter.

Another concern was raised by Ed McKeever, a Greensboro businessman who wants to see more minorities considered when jobs like these are available.

Wilson said the city is following Minority and Women in Business and even mention the program in the ad for workers.

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