Interim manager gets down to the city's business - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Interim manager gets down to the city's business

Lemuel Edwards Lemuel Edwards
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January 4, 2005

Albany-- Albany's new interim city manager is already talking about cutting cost and running the city more efficiently.

Tuesday was Lemuel Edwards' first commission meeting since taking over as interim city manager. And, it didn't take long for him to find a money problem he hopes to fix.

Albany commissioners were hesitant to approve a $5 million Tax Anticipation Note for 2005. A "TAN" allows the city to borrow money in hopes that when property tax revenue comes in, the city can pay off the loan before year's end.

"If for some reason we have a bad economy and the taxes don't come in, we have a problem," said City Commissioner Henry Mathis.

That fear lead Commissioner Henry Mathis to asked the new Interim City Manager Lem Edwards if the city has any other options. He said no.

"This city has a situation where they fall short on revenue this time of year," Edwards said. "Their expenditures exceed what they bring in. It's very difficult for a city the size of Albany to be in a predicament where we have to borrow to pay our obligations and vendors to keep them happy."

But Edwards boldly said he plans to change the way the city does business so borrowing money isn't a necessity in the future. "I would like to find other measures to cut back where we can."

Edwards says the city can cut back by making sure all the equipment and vehicles in the city's fleet are needed and are being used as long as they can be.

He said the city may be draining money by buying items that weren't budgeted. "It's a little early in game for me to say 'We can cut here or there,' but those are some things I will be looking at."

Edwards also plans to review the efficient of each department, hiring and firing employees if needed.

Commissioner Henry Mathis, who wasn't in support of renewing former City Manager Janice Allen Jackson's contract, was happy with Edwards' aggressiveness. "He has brought a different demeanor to the commission table. He brings a wealth of expertise."

Now, only time will tell if that demeanor, coupled with his plans for change, will equate to a better operating city.

Commissioners discussed coming up with a five year plan to improve the city's finances, so borrowing money isn't necessary in the future.

Meanwhile, commissioners haven't gotten very far in a search for a new city manager since Janice Allen Jackson announced her resignation in early November. Tuesday, commissioners decided to hear from three head-hunting firms that specialized in city government searches. But they'll have to come up with a city manager job description first.

Recently, the city manager was hired from within, and the job wasn't posted. Commissioners didn't discussion how much they'll pay the head hunting firm to narrow down the field of applicants.

One of the three competing firms, Slavin Management of Atlanta, was already hired to find a new police chief and assistant city manager. Both of those searches are underway now.

posted at 4:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com