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Two more Porterdale officials leaving as city deals with financial woes

PORTERDALE, Ga. — Two key Porterdale city officials have joined the interim city manager in resigning their jobs and the mayor said she will ask city council members Monday night to discuss their next step in filling the positions.

City Clerk/Treasurer Linda Hanna and Public Works Supervisor Chad Knight gave their notices that they each will be leaving their posts in mid-August. 

They join Interim City Manager Robert Witcher who gave his 30-day notice to city council members Monday, July 20, after the council approved a major city financial reorganization plan that left all city employees except police at 80% of their pay.

Mayor Arline Chapman said she has asked city council members to meet in executive session after their scheduled meeting Monday, July 27, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the personnel matter.

"It is my hope that the council will be ready to advertise the positions," she said.

Witcher’s position as interim city manager makes him the city government’s chief administrative officer, according to the city charter. 

“Since the position also carries the responsibility of CEO, it is necessary to move forward,” Chapman said.

Witcher declined to give a reason for his decision or if it was tied to the council’s actions to approve the reorganization plan.

The council appointed Witcher as interim city manager in August 2019 after former city manager Bob Thomson resigned after nine years amid a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into possible city financial improprieties.

Hanna began work with the city of Porterdale in mid-March after serving as chief financial officer of Walton County government.

Witcher and Hanna had recommended the council take action on a three-year plan sought by a city auditor after reporting Porterdale owed almost $1 million to a variety of public and private entities, including the Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority and a fund tied to Newton County's Cornish Creek Water Treatment Plant.

Council members on Monday, July 20, approved the reorganization plan which left all city employees except police administrators and officers at 80% of their current pay and with increasing insurance premium costs through 2022. They also already had approved a tentative four-mill increase in the property tax rate. 

Witcher and Hanna had recommended the same pay cut for all employees, including police, and a two-mill increase.

The council also has yet to approve a 2020 budget which it now plans to do by its November meeting , one month before the fiscal year ends.