Salem City Manager, Jay Taliaferro, announced today that he is retiring from his current position on November 1, 2023. Taliaferro has been Salem’s City Manager since December 19, 2019, and has served the city’s citizens in several capacities for over 32 years.
“To be able to serve others while giving back to the community that helped raise me has been an extremely special and unique experience,” Taliaferro said. “I appreciate the opportunity to lead the city more than anyone will ever know.”
Taliaferro began his employment with the City of Salem in 1991 as a Staff Engineer and in 1998, he was named City Engineer by City Manager Randy Smith. In 2000, Taliaferro moved into administration as Assistant City Manager and he served in that role under both Forest Jones and Kevin Boggess.
"I learned a great deal from all three of them," he said. "The main thing each one made clear is the importance of keeping Salem moving in a positive and productive direction that will make all of our citizens and visitors proud."
Taliaferro is a product of the city’s school division and he graduated from Salem High School in 1984. He later earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and his master’s in public administration from Virginia Tech. He has served outside the city with a variety of regional organizations over the years ranging from Virginia's Blue Ridge to the Western Virginia Regional Jail.
“The regional cooperation is one of the things that has really changed for the better in the past three decades,” he said. “From tourism to economic development we have proven that there is strength in numbers and great value in working together.”
Despite having virtually his entire tenure as city manager defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taliaferro was able to navigate the city through that uncertainty and achieve several economic wins. The renovation and additions made to Salem High School’s main building and its athletic field house, the major upgrades at the Moyer Sports Complex and the downtown corridor improvements equated to nearly $65 million in projects during this time.
During his tenure, the city’s bond rating improved to AA+ with the S&P Global Rating which among other things enhanced Salem’s ability to borrow money at a low interest rate. That in turn, saved the city’s taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“When we were able to borrow money for the high school project at 1.45 percent that is the moment when we hit it out of the park,” Taliaferro said. “I am exceptionally proud that we have been able to build up our reserves and put the city in a strong financial situation both today and moving forward.”
In addition, Taliaferro has worked closely with several private developers to repurpose and reimagine historic properties in the city. The former General Electric manufacturing plant and the Valleydale Meat packing facility are both in the process of rising from the ashes.
“The pandemic, much like the great recession, presented challenges for all of us, but it also created opportunities,” Taliaferro said. “We were able to work with our school division, some outstanding local contractors and a number of individuals with incredible vision to get a great deal accomplished in less-than-ideal times.”
“I have had the pleasure of working on a variety of projects and initiatives with Jay since I was elected to Council in 2006, but I have known Jay much longer and he has always had Salem’s best interest at heart,” said Randy Foley, former mayor, and the longest tenured member of the current City Council. “He and his family have made a lasting impact on the City of Salem, and I wish Jay nothing but the best as he enters this next phase of life.”
Taliaferro and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Salem, as do their two adult children and his mother. His father, the late Jim Taliaferro, was Salem's mayor from 1974-1996.
City Manager - Jay Taliaferro