Twenty months after he took the job as Charlottesville City Manager, Maurice Jones has bought a house in town, Graham Moomaw writes for the Daily Progress. A requirement for the position of city manager is that, after accepting the position, the manager must move into the city limits. Recognizing the realities of what goes into moving and selling a home, that doesn’t have to be done instantly, but instead within one year. Jones, like many folks in the area, is underwater on his Earlysville home—he paid $393,000 for it in 2006, and now it’s worth just $315,000, making it impossible to sell without ponying up $78,000 to the bank. Jones said he had a tough time finding a buyer, so Council gave him an extension to allow him twenty months, rather than the previous twelve.
Jones has taken early possession—a week before the formal closing—of a house in Greenbrier, just as his time elapsed. The house requires renovation, though, and won’t be habitable for a few months, so while Jones does now own a house in the city, he won’t be sleeping in the city until later this year. Council members tell Moomaw that they’re satisfied with Jones’s progress, and consider him in compliance with his contractual requirements.
10 thoughts on “City Manager Moving to City”
Hey Maurice, we all understand. I hope you don’t have to take too bad a hit on the old house. I realize that you have made a big sacrifice in order to serve the city of Charlottesville.
Although this is Charlottesville. Have to wonder if this was one of the multiplicitous purposes “reversion” had been approached by city council earlier this year. Had that followed through, Maurice could have likely avoided a “hit on the old house.” There’s then too all the potential adjustment for the children, if there’s a new school in the picture.
How is this guy management material if he’s that dumb about real estate?
There are house purchase that are often necessitated by family needs and not looked at as mainly as an investment. People are often forced to buy at a time in the market they might not want to. Maurice Jones is a man with a family and I would expect that his motivation are along those lines. If he were a real estate genius being a city manger would probably not be the job for him.
Moving a family is a serious business and city council was reasonable given this extraordinary time. The guy makes a good salary but no one likes to take a hit like he has. I wish him well and hope it all goes as smoothly as possible.
So even after a significant extension to meet his contractual obligations, which he knew of and entered into freely, he’s still only ‘making progress’ toward compliance by ‘taking possession’ of a house he doesn’t yet own and in which he has no immediate plans to live? That’s just sad. One would expect the City Manager to be the type of person who can get things done and live up to his promises. Also, if there’s some benefit to having senior city employees live within the city itself (and I agree that there are) then why wouldn’t the same be true of Assistant City Managers?
Well, there is idealized thinking and there is reality. Lots of people are underwater. Pretty much no one saw the damage coming by the “everyone should own a house lets change mortgage lending policy” mess. That said, if Mo simply pumped his cash into a losing proposition instead of working to find a balance and minimize loss, then we need to discuss his ability to run a city.
I don’t think this story is complete. Isn’t there also an interest free loan extended to Jones for this?
Didn’t his salary increase when he took this job? If he set aside all of his salary increase for a year, wouldn’t that have constituted a very nice down-payment on his city house? Plus the interest free loan from the city taxpayers? Couldn’t his Earlysville house have been rented rather than sold under those contditions?
No. Sorry. I’m not one of those who think this is either right or okay. I think Jones not only failed to live up to his first obligation, he’s also failed to live up to his extension on his first obligation. Not cool.
According to the story, that’s something allowed by city policy—whether he’s taken advantage of that, nobody knows.
We don’t know his family situation. For all I know, he’s got a kid on a ventilator, a mother who requires extensive therapy after having brain surgery, and he’s got a quarter million dollars in student loans. Or gambling debt that, if he doesn’t pay, Vinny’s going to take his kneecaps. ;)
Perhaps, but that assumes that there’s a good market for rental houses. I suspect that with such a glut of unsold properties that there’s a glut of rental houses, but I don’t know that. That also assumes that our city manager cares to also be a landlord, which often requires dropping everything in the case of a water leak, power outage, etc.
I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. My point isn’t that this is appropriate but, rather, that we have no idea what many of the specifics of his circumstances are. (I seem to recall that he’s got a lot of kids—like, five sons?)
boss of me,
Since when is real estate smarts a prerequisite for a management position? Come to think of it, since when are smarts a prerequisite for a management position?
Most managers are adept at institutional politics first and effective managers second. People quite often get promoted to their level of incompetence. Surely you’ve had an ineffective boss or two?
I wouldn’t say his real estate market timing says much about his management ability, but what’s clear is that the City Council likes him a lot. They promoted him to his position, rewarded him the permanent position, and then granted him an extension on this particular requirement for the position.
These facts alone don’t prove whether his skills lie in the political or managerial arena, or if he’s that rare manager that succeed at both. But he must be doing well in one or the other, if not both….
If he gets to bend the rules this much, I hope the good citizens of Cville will be shown the same consideration.
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