Incoming Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson plans to hit the ground running once he begins work on May 13.

“I will spend a significant amount of time in my first couple of months of being city manager meeting with staff, residents, business owners and other external agencies in an effort to gain a better understanding of our organizational efficiency and effectiveness,” he said. “This will be essential in my unwavering quest to ensure that each and every one of you in the community are receiving superior public services.”

Richardson, who holds a doctorate in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, has been city manager of DeSoto, Texas, since 2011. Previously, he worked in several roles with the city of Richmond.

“I can translate that into becoming an efficient, effective leader in the community,” he said in Council Chambers Monday afternoon during his first public introduction as city manager.

Consulting firm S. Renee Narloch & Associates helped the City Council narrow the 37 applications for Maurice Jones’ position down to three candidates. The council held public interviews of Richardson and the two other finalists on March 6 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, and the city on April 8 announced Richardson’s selection. His employment agreement was approved during Monday evening’s City Council meeting.

Jones left the city in July after his contract was not renewed. He now is the town manager for Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“I hope that together — with Dr. Richardson, council, staff, community — that we’re able to truly make this community a great and vibrant community for all of our citizens [and] all of our employees,” Mayor Nikuyah Walker said.

As Richardson gets settled, Walker asked for patience and openness.

“And moving forward, I hope that we are all open to moving past ‘this is the way that things have been done’ and opening up to a new day, opening up to a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. We have so many great things that happen in our city, but we know there is a lot of work to do also,” she said. “And every decision that this council has made, every … hiring decision that we’ve made together, we have looked for people who can help move us in that direction.”

Per his hiring agreement, Richardson is an at-will employee who may terminate his employment at any time with at least 75 days’ notice unless he and the city agree of otherwise. If fired without cause within six months of his hiring, Richardson would be entitled to a payment equal to six month’s salary. Afterward, he will be provided a severance package equal to a full year’s salary and would be paid any unused annual leave. Additionally, he and his dependents will remain on the city’s health insurance plan for one year or until he is eligible to receive health insurance from another employer, whichever comes first.

He has 90 days to find permanent housing within city limits, will be reimbursed up to $6,000 in moving expenses and also will receive a $6,000 interim housing supplement.

Richardson is scheduled to receive an annual motor vehicle allowance of $6,500, and a base salary of $205,000 a year. Upon a satisfactory evaluation in December, his pay is set to increase to $215,000 a year. In DeSoto, Richardson is paid $220,000 in DeSoto, and Jones was paid $191,500.

“We don’t get into public service to become rich,” he said of the pay cut he will take. “We get in public service to help people, and … one of the things that I said I wanted to do in this community is to be able to come in and make a difference. A difference in terms of building a relationship and rapport with the community, with the employees, as well as the City Council in helping move the city forward.”


Elliott Robinson has spent nearly 15 years in journalism and joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018 through 2021. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.