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Newton seeking applicants for interim county manager position
Deadline Dec. 29 to apply for job leading government's day-to-day operations after current manager's contract not renewed
BOC
From left, County Manager Lloyd Kerr speaks during a 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting as commissioners Stan Edwards and Demond Mason listen. - photo by File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County government has begun seeking applications for its top staff position that likely will become vacant in a little less than a month.

Officials posted the job of interim county manager Monday, Nov. 29, on the government's website and set a Dec. 29 end date to apply for the position now held by Lloyd Kerr.

The Board of Commissioners in early November narrowly voted not to renew Kerr's contract after it expires on Jan. 1. He has served as county manager since 2016. 

The county manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the county government and is responsible for presenting the annual budget to the Board, among other duties. 

The start date for whoever is hired to fill the top position is unknown at this point, said county government spokesperson Bryan Fazio. 

"There is a process laid out by the county’s enabling legislation that states qualified candidates must be presented by the chairman to the Board of Commissioners, therefore the selection date could prove to be fluid," Fazio said.

No salary amount was listed for the interim county manager position posted on the website. Kerr earned $135,000 annually, according to his employment contract. 

The county's operating charter, or "enabling legislation," states the chairman must provide at least three "qualified" candidates to the Board "provided sufficient applications are received."

"In the event less than three candidates are submitted, all applications shall be provided to the Board for review and determination of whether additional candidates should be added to the list provided by the chair," the legislation states.

Kerr was promoted from planning director to interim county manager in January 2016. Commissioners appointed him to the permanent position in August 2016 and voted unanimously to renew his contract for three years in early 2019.

However, Kerr and some commissioners clashed publicly on some issues this year which apparently led to the action.

Some commissioners complained that Kerr was not working hard enough to find a way to distribute some of the $10.8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds the county received in May as the government awaited final instructions on how to distribute the money.

Kerr also publicly complained that some Board members were violating the county charter by bypassing him and directly contacting county employees — which rankled some members.

The Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 in early November not to renew Kerr's contract. Chairman Marcello Banes said he planned to veto the action in an effort to keep Kerr in the position but County Attorney Patrick Jaugstetter said Banes' action would not overrule state law that requires a governing body's majority vote to renew a contract. 

The Board then met again Nov. 23 in an executive session to discuss the impending vacancy. 

Banes recommended they keep Kerr in the position for a year to allow for a transition period but District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson made a motion to appoint former county recreation director Ternard Turner as interim county manager beginning Jan. 2 until a permanent manager could be hired in six to 12 months.

Commissioners voted 3-2 against hiring Turner after hearing Jaugstetter say he believed the action was not in line with the county government's operating charter that requires the chairman to submit a list of candidates from which Board members would fill the position.

No one had applied for the job on Tuesday, the day after it was posted, Fazio said.

In addition, no one has yet applied for a new in-house county attorney position leading a newly established county legal department despite it being posted since Oct. 6, Fazio said.

County officials reopened the position — which has a posted salary of $185,000 — to new applicants after the Board of Commissioners rejected its sole finalist, former longtime contract attorney Megan Martin, during a first round of applications. The current posted deadline for applications is Monday, Dec. 6.