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Posted: January 21, 2014 11:59 p.m.

BOC taps pick for next county manager

Board offers transportation director Garrett new asst. county manager job

If he’s willing, Transportation Director Tom Garrett will be groomed to become Newton County’s next county manager.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday night to offer Garrett the newly created position of assistant county manager. If Garrett accepts the job, he would start Jan. 27 or negotiate another starting date.

The job description will be created by the county attorney’s office and based on the current county manager job description, according to Commissioner John Douglas’ motion; the job description will also include the position’s salary, which was not disclosed Tuesday.

Garrett would be groomed to take over for County Manager John Middleton who announced at the board’s previous meeting that he will be retiring in late 2014.

The board voted to offer Garrett the job after going into an executive session for about an hour. According to multiple officials, there were three internal candidates being considered for the position. It’s unclear if any job posting was done internally; no outside candidates were sought. The other two de facto finalists were not disclosed Tuesday.

Commissioner Nancy Schulz was the lone commissioner to vote against offering Garrett the job, but her only concern was that there was no formal interview process done with prospective candidates and that the board did not have enough information or time to make a decision. She said she had “the utmost respect for Mr. Garrett.”

No other commissioners expressed such a concern. Commissioner Levie Maddox, who made the motion to offer Garrett the job, said he had been researching his decision for five to six months.

Commissioner John Douglas called Garrett “a rising young star in the county” and said he has excelled as county manager and transportation director.

Garrett was hired as the county engineer in early 2011 at a salary of $75,776. At the time, the county did not have a full-time engineer after the budget cuts of July 2010 and Garrett had been consulting with the county since June 2010 and was also an assistant county engineer for the county from October 2005 to April 2006, according to then county chairman Kathy Morgan. Garrett had worked for Loganville-based Alcovy Surveying and Engineering for nearly four years prior to being hired by Newton County in 2011.

Garrett was promoted to transportation director in July 2013, where his increased duties included overseeing the public works, engineering and fleet maintenance departments. Chairman Keith Ellis credited Garret for increasing efficiency among the departments.

Middleton has been the county manager since November 2011, when the board voted to form the position, giving it more authority at the expense of the chairman’s position. Middleton was first hired as finance director in 2000 and promoted to administrative officer in 2001.

After Middleton’s retirement announcement earlier this year, the board voted to have Dave Wills, a local government expert for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), hold two work sessions in February for free to examine all of the possible government types the county could choose before moving forward to find a replacement for Middleton. The motion was approved unanimously.

It appears the grooming of Middleton’s replacement will happen concurrently with any decisions about the future structure of Newton County’s government.

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