With a new address and contract under his belt, Bill Shanahan said hes ready to tackle his first day as York county manager starting on Monday.
Shanahan, who was unanimously selected by the county council for the job in August, is no stranger to transition. A former member of the U.S. Air Force, hes lived throughout Europe and grew up in Liverpool, England.
His latest address will be in Rock Hill.
Its a little bigger than I would have rented, Shanahan, 56, said of the house his wife rented for the couple near Piedmont Medical Center. But Im ex-military and I follow orders, he joked.
After two decades in the Air Force as an industrial engineer and working in law enforcement, Shanahan settled in Georgia and public administration in 1999.
Over the past two years he served as deputy administrator for the city of Augusta, where he oversaw day-to-day operations and managed a $180 million chunk of the budget.
The city is part of a consolidated government with Richmond County, Ga., and has a combined population of under 200,000. By comparison, York countys population is 230,000 and growing.
Shanahan will receive an annual salary of $155,000 in his three-year-term as county manager up from the $118,500 he received in Augusta. The previous manager, Jim Baker, was paid $170,000 annually.
The position has remained vacant since January, when Baker left to pursue a higher-paying job in Virginia amid reports of disagreements with council members.
Shanahan said he hopes to take a more collaborative and softer approach as manager, relying on the expertise of department heads. Your workers are your most valuable resource, he said. One person cant do it all.
When it comes to management style, Shanahan said he avoids what he calls bullying. I dont yell at people, he said. Good leaders dont get people to do things by yelling and screaming.
The York County Council selected Shanahan from a list of dozens of applicants throughout the nation provided by a professional search firm. Finalists were vetted through a series of one-on-one interviews with the council.
Shanahan has spent the past week getting acclimated to the county and tying up loose ends namely signing paperwork, moving furniture, reviewing budgets and objectives provided by staff, getting a gym membership and even taking a mandatory drug test.
The first item on his to-do list is to hold a collaborative workshop where staff and council members can go over specific goals and objectives as the county moves to revise its comprehensive plan, which lays out a long-term picture for growth.
No government is going to be easy, he said of getting everyone on the same page. Even if theyre all going to the same place, sometimes they have different directions to get there...The managers job is to negotiate, mediate and take us in the right direction.
Shanahans tenure in Augusta was marked by organizational change and restructuring. I look at organizations and try to understand them, he said. I dont look for win-lose situations, I look for win-win situations.
As deputy administrator, Shanahan reorganized several local departments after investigations found mismanagement and violations. Shanahan temporarily served as acting director for both the citys human resources and recreation departments.
He called his ability to reorganize and adjust his greatest management strength and plans to apply that to York county as well.
Half of what we do is based on trust, he said of his 16 years of experience in public administration. The nervous part is learning the culture of the community.
Outside of the office, Shanahan enjoys boxing and mountain biking. Typically, he starts out his day around 5 a.m. at the gym before heading to work, where he checks the local papers to get the pulse of the community.
At home, he and his wife are empty-nesters with four grown children in either college or starting their careers. But the couple does house a 96-year-old woman named Trinidad.
We adopted her I guess, he said of the woman, who has lived with the family for several years after falling ill. The couple met her in St. Marys, Ga., when she used to have their children do her yardwork. She ended up staying with us.
Shanahan said he is looking forward to Monday, when he will get his first taste of managing the county with committee meetings that delve into complicated issues like the countys ambulance contract and hospitality tax.
I understand every day will not be a great day, he said. But I also understand there will be more great days than bad days.
Jie Jenny Zou• 803-329-4062