BALDWIN — Baldwin Mayor Jerry Neace resigned his post Monday night, but he won’t be leaving city government.
After closed session during Monday night’s meeting, in which Neace resigned to the council, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Parrish took over the meeting and Neace was appointed to the position of city administrator effective March 27.
That appointment came about as a result of the current city administrator letting the council know she would be leaving in April.
“On Feb. 26, City Administrator Tommie Perry informed the city council that she was going to resign her position but would give us up to April 30 so that the city would have time to make plans for her replacement,” Parrish told AccessWDUN Monday night. “After a few days and some individual discussions with other council members, I approached Jerry Neace to see if he had interest in the position.
“The council members felt that there would be no one more qualified for the position than Jerry,” Parrish said. “He by far understood the history of Baldwin, had the educational background, possessed the knowledge of running a small city through his numerous hours of training through the Georgia Municipal Association, and had a love to see Baldwin be a good place to live and work. He has practically been in charge of the city for eight years.”
Neace has been active in city government on a daily basis, despite having other responsibilities.
“Our charter acknowledges the mayor runs the daily operations, but in practical terms the mayor is a part-time position and the person that directs the daily operations needs to be a full-time employee,” Parrish said. “With Jerry's qualifications and love of Baldwin, it was the best decision to appoint him as city administrator if he was willing to accept the job.”
The contract covers four years, but has early termination clauses, Parrish said. The city administrator can be terminated for cause without any payments from the city.
“If Jerry is terminated without cause, he could receive one year severance pay,” Parrish said.
Parrish said he and other council members are confident that hiring Neace to run the city’s daily operations will be the right choice for Baldwin. He emphasized the city knew he was the right person, if he would take the job for the compensation the city could offer.
“We have gone through this process of trying to find a qualified person before and it was a difficult road,” Parrish said. “Checking area salaries on the [Georgia Department of Community Affairs] website, we found that area cities were paying $109,000 at Cornelia, $80,000 at Demorest (and we believe there was a recent increase at Demorest), $85,000 at Clarkesville. The low side for a city administrator/manager for Georgia cities with our population was $72,000. We felt it would be difficult for Baldwin to pay these kinds of salaries at present and hoped Jerry would accept the job at a salary the city could better afford. We offered him a contract at $65,000 and he expressed interest.”
Additionally, the city is looking for a new city clerk following the recent departure of City Clerk Denise Williams.
“The position of city clerk is open, and we are looking to fill that position,” Parrish said.
Perry was appointed interim city clerk until April 21, her requested leave date.
Parrish said while he and other council members have only briefly discussed the need for an election for mayor, they missed the timeframe to have the seat placed on the May election.
“I anticipate based on feelings expressed at the meeting that will we have a special election in conjunction with the November General Election since that should have the largest voter turnout,” Parrish said.