The city of Hardeeville has appointed its third interim city manager in seven months as a search for a long-term replacement continues.
City Council unanimously voted Thursday to appoint Mike Phillips of Greenville as interim manager. He is a former administrator for Chester, Rincon, and Appling County, Ga. He replaces interim city manager Rose Dobson-Elliott and said he hopes to be hired permanently.
"I've got stacks and stacks of papers to go through and a lot of meetings to go to," he said Tuesday. "So I'll meet people and see what kinds of things they want to talk about."
Dobson-Elliott, who served March 3 to Aug. 18, departed about a week after she was passed over for the job in favor of another finalist, Art Williams of the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence, according to applications released Monday by the city.
The council decided Aug. 11 to continue its search when it failed to agree on a contract with Williams and did not offer him the position, Mayor Bronco Bostick said last week.
A third finalist, Loxahatchee, Fla., town manager Mark Kutney, withdrew his application, city attorney Prina Maines said Tuesday.
It was not clear whether the city will start its search from scratch or pull from the remaining pool of more than 30 applicants. City Council members have referred questions to Bostick; attempts Tuesday to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Bostick declined last week to elaborate on the decision not to hire Williams, but he said it had nothing to do with the Green Pond candidate's past financial and legal difficulties. The council was unaware of those problems, Bostick said.
Williams had sued a previous employer, declared bankruptcy and was ordered by a judge to pay a bank $125,000 in debts, according to court records.
Maines said the city conducted a criminal background check on the finalists but did not run credit checks or hire a third party to assess candidates. Maines compiled information about the finalists for the council from information available online, and some council members did their own research, she said Tuesday.
A file of those materials, made available Tuesday along with the three finalists' applications, contained Williams' lawsuit against Allendale County, a search of his traffic and civil cases in Colleton County, and an Augusta Chronicle article that stated he was removed from his job as Colleton County administrator because he "didn't provide financial statements for many months." The additional file did not include his bankruptcy filings.
There were two documents pertaining to Dobson-Elliott -- an article on her resignation from Bamberg County in May 2012 and her tax records -- and none related to Kutney.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.