A longtime top administrator from a nearby county has taken the reins of the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority as executive director.
As of Monday, Tyrone Franklin will serve as executive director of the WRHA, relieving a city employee of the interim role. He will oversee “all functions and operations of the authority” and oversee budget operations to help the city address workforce and affordable housing opportunities, according to a news release from the city.
Before coming to Williamsburg, Franklin served as county administrator for Surry County for 13 years. Before that, he was Surry’s planning director for four years, making 17 years total with Surry County.
Franklin said he left Surry County to take advantage of a “retirement opportunity” allowing him to retire after 20 years of service in local government, and his departure was entirely his choice, although the Surry County Board of Supervisors supported his resignation request.
“You know when it’s time,” Franklin said. “But I don’t want people to think I’d gotten to the point where I was tired.”
Franklin tendered his resignation during a closed session, according to minutes for the June 7, 2018 Surry Board of Supervisors meeting. His resignation was effective Oct. 1 and he would receive $97,000 covering three years of service in the Virginia Retirement System — allowing him to meet the 20-year threshold needed to retire from the administrative position — as well as three months’ salary at $42,000.
The $97,000 went into Franklin’s VRS account, and the $42,000 salary was paid directly to him after deductions and taxes were taken out.
Supervisors approved the agreement with Franklin unanimously.
When asked why Franklin resigned, Surry County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Seward said “he retired on his own and the board accepted his retirement” and “the political climate changed a little and these are very political jobs.”
Franklin said he could have chosen to continue serving as county administrator, and the Board of Supervisors “certainly could’ve decided to move on from me, but it wasn’t that way.”
Seward declined to give further information about the reason for Franklin’s departure. Seward said Surry County is currently looking for a replacement administrator, and has accepted applications and scheduled interviews.
“Most of us didn’t want to see him go,” Seward said. “He’d done a good job for us.”
Franklin will make $98,000 with the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, but remains officially retired. His new position will not contribute to the Virginia Retirement System, so he will receive both his salary and retirement benefits.
“I’m not chasing money, that’s not why I’m in it,” Franklin said. “My intention is to be of service. Being at home looking out my back window is not being of service. We need to be busy.”
Franklin will replace Acting WRHA Executive Director Peter Walentisch, who was in that role less than 12 months, city spokeswoman Lee Ann Hartmann said.
Walentisch will continue in his full-time role as Human Services director.
Hartmann said the search to fill the position began in August 2018. The vacancy was advertised nationwide and the search yielded 16 applicants, including Franklin.
Candidates were “vigorously screened” and had multiple interviews with a committee — the human resources director and a team of management staff — which then made a recommendation to the WRHA Board of Commissioners for consideration.
Hartmann said Franklin’s prior experience with local government and public housing made him the best candidate for the job.
Franklin worked with the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority at the start of his career, according the news release announcing his hire.