Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb County losing three more department heads

Three more Macon-Bibb County department heads have resigned or announced they’re leaving, adding to a growing list of government leaders who have left Mayor Robert Reichert’s administration this year.

Sarah Tenon, director of the Animal Welfare Department, resigned June 30, and retirements have been announced for Public Works Director Steve Pettis on July 31 and Emergency Management Agency Director Don Druitt, effective Sept. 30, Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said.

The latest resignations come on the heels of the county losing five other high-ranking employees in the past few weeks.

Assistant County Manager Steve Layson, Information Technology Director Steve Masteller and Director of Facilities Management Gene Simonds retired June 30. E-911 Director Keith Moffett left July 17 to become the Butts County administrator, and Recreation Director Donald “Doc” Dougherty left July 10 to head the recreation department in Hillsborough County, Florida.

Reichert will wait until after the July 31 job buyouts period ends before deciding how to handle replacing the various vacant department head positions.

Floore emailed commissioners Friday to inform them about the three latest departures.

Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said the fist time he heard about the resignations was when he talked Friday afternoon with The Telegraph. He said he was taken aback that he was not notified earlier about Tenon and Druitt, especially since Shepherd serves on the commission’s Public Safety Committee that oversees their departments.

“I was at the Animal Welfare Department meeting last Monday night, and nothing was said about it then,” Shepherd said. “That’s something I should’ve known almost immediately.”

Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said he prefers commissioners are quickly informed when department heads are retiring or leaving for other reasons.

“I think we should be the first to know,” he said.

Floore, however, said the administration was waiting for some of the resignations to become official before informing commissioners. Although Tenon sent her resignation in at the end of June, it wasn’t until “the past week or two” before it was finalized, he said.

“We weren’t going to say anything until it was finalized, and that’s what we told commissioners,” Floore said. “We’re trying to keep them as informed as possible.”

Sonja Adams has been the department’s interim director since March because for months Tenon has been on medical leave.

Tenon, who was named director of the animal shelter in 2012 when it was run by the county before consolidation, was not Reichert’s first choice for the job when Macon and Bibb County merged. Commissioners balked at Reichert’s recommendation to hire Van VanDeWalker for the job, and Tenon eventually was tapped to lead the department in the merged government last year.

Many of the department heads who have left accepted buyouts as Macon-Bibb government looks to cut at least 93 positions outside of public safety to fit its budget.

Last week, Human Resources Director Ben Hubbard said 199 employees, including public safety workers who would be replaced, have submitted early retirement paperwork or said they intend to accept buyouts.

Floore said an interim director for the Public Works Department has not been named, and Pettis’ retirement provides an opportunity to review the “organization of that department in conjunction with Solid Waste and Parks & Beautification based on how many people retire during this window.”

Pettis has been vital in dealing with Macon-Bibb’s blight, Floore said.

“Steve Pettis was key to creating a new department in the consolidated government and was instrumental in our effort to tear down 100 houses in our first year and 125 houses in the second in the ongoing attack on blight,” he said in an email.

There also has not been an interim director named for EMA.

“If Don (Druitt) is retiring, more power to him,” Shepherd said. “It’s going to be hard to replace him. It takes a person with a special heart to be in a public service position like he has.”

To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623.