ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Several Albany city commissioners speak out against the process of hiring a Deputy City manager, but the commission approves the move.
Commissioners went back and forth during Tuesday's special called meeting, but ultimately approve hiring Lonnie Ballard for the new position of Deputy City manager.
Interim Albany City manager Tom Berry is behind the move, which has some commissioners concerned.
After 20 minutes of debate, Albany city commissioners voted five to two to ratify the creation of the deputy city manager position, which will be filled by Lonnie Ballard.
"It's what I expected and I think it was more the process than Lonnie. I don't think it had anything to do with Lonnie Ballard. I think it was the process," said Interim City Manager Tom Berry.
A process that raised red flags for several commissioners. "I'm not in favor of this process going on," said Commissioner Jon Howard.
"I don't know anything about Lonnie, he might be the best thing for this city, but it's just hard to bring someone in when you don't see a resume, you don't follow the process, and I was just against it," said Ward III Commissioner B. J. Fletcher
"I wasn't voting against Ballard, he's a nice guy. I was voting against the process," said Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta.
Last week, interim city manager Tom Berry announced his plan to bring former Assistant City Manager Lonnie Ballard back in a new position, as deputy city manager.
Berry plans to leave soon, and recommends Ballard for the city manager position, but still expects commissioners to conduct a full search.
"This process, I said it today and I'll continue to say it, this in no way binds them, because he'll have no guarantee coming in that he'll just walk right in to the city manager position," said Berry.
Commissioner Marietta says this process makes it seem like they're favoring one potential candidate over another.
"It's like a back door way to bring someone in. That's exactly what it was. I mean really and I didn't like it."
Commissioners also voiced concerns of essentially having four assistant city managers, which isn't needed in a city this small.
Lonnie Ballard is currently one of the assistant city managers in Tallahassee, Florida and is expected to give his employer 30 days' notice before he starts here.
He'll sign an agreement which will include some sort of severance package if he is fired for no reason. A salary hasn't been set yet.