Politics & Government

Layson opts to accept Macon-Bibb retirement package, leave local government

Steve Layson will be the highest-ranking public official to take the early retirement package being offered by Macon-Bibb County.

Layson, the assistant county manager for infrastructure, will leave his position June 30.

Layson, who served more than eight years as county manager in Bibb County before consolidation, has overseen nine departments in the consolidated government, including Animal Welfare, Solid Waste, Engineering and Facilities Management. Layson will be 58 years old this year, making him eligible for the retirement package.

“It’s a major life decision,” Layson said. “You have to give it a lot of thought. It’s more energy and research than any other decisions. ... I had a wonderful experience working with the new department heads. Not only did I appreciate their skills, but I also made some lifelong friends.”

Layson said one of the key factors in his decision is that he recently had to sign up his father for hospice care.

“I have a lot of things going on right now,” he said. “I decided to take a well-needed break.”

Macon-Bibb County Manager Dale Walker said Layson was a key figure during the merger of Macon and Bibb County.

“He brought a wealth of knowledge about county government,” Walker said. “Since we merged the city and the county, he had a lot of experience and was able to touch people on the county side, such as the judges. ... He did an excellent job with (Animal Welfare) solving issues, complaints and concerns.”

Walker said officials are still working out the details of how Layson’s duties will be handled once he leaves. He said as of now, there’s no plan to hire a replacement.

Instead, Charles Coney, assistant county manager for operations, will take over many of Layson’s responsibilities. Walker said some of the departments that previously reported to Coney, including Finance, IT and Human Resources, will now report to Walker.

“We’re going to be spread really thin anyway,” he said.

Macon-Bibb County is offering eligible employees retirement packages as a voluntary measure as a way to reduce the workforce through attrition. Officials said if about 150 people accept the packages, the proposed fiscal 2016 budget should be workable. The proposed budget was put together with the assumption about 100 employees would take the deal, but officials are hoping for more.

Macon-Bibb officials met with eligible employees Wednesday to answer questions about the retirement package.

Walker said he thinks some employees might see Layson accepting the package as a positive sign.

“We know several who are saying, ‘if he’s going to go, then I might,’ ” Walker said. “But mostly people are going to make decisions based on their own personal situations.”

Layson said the package being offered is a generous one, and employees “would be remiss” not to take a look at it.

“Really, I think people have to think about what it means to them,” he said.

Layson said he plans to take off the next six months, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Layson had previously applied for city and county manager positions in Key West, Florida, and York County, South Carolina, while still working for Bibb County. He said he hasn’t ruled out working again but doesn’t know if a future job would be in government or “something less stressful.”

Layson said he’s proud of the work he’s done in Macon-Bibb County.

“We’ve done so much in a short amount of time. There are so many things going well in the community right now,” he said. “I’m going to miss being a part of it.”

Layson makes $130,170 per year. Because his retirement is through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Macon-Bibb commissioners must approve his retirement package during the next commission meeting.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.