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Police Chief Approved as Interim City Manager

In a unanimous vote, council voted to confirm the nomination of its police chief to take on the interim city manager position.

It almost didn't happen.

But, after a 30-minute retreat into executive session consensus emerged. Roy Whitehead, who serves as the city's police chief, would take on the city manager's job -- albeit temporary.

The vote was 6-0 in favor of confirming his nomination to the interim city manager position. It is expected that he will serve for at least the next two months.

The chief said he would work as many hours as needed to get both jobs done, and that he was "willing to do anything to help the city move forward."

Instead of making a lot of changes, Whitehead said he saw the interim post as one where he'd keep the city's business running smoothly from day to day.

Mayor Kelly Kautz said the chief had always been since learning several months ago that the former city manager would be leaving for another job. On Monday, she said he was "the best candidate at this point in time."

Before breaking for executive session, several council members spoke in opposition to the chief taking on the new role. Although every council member said Whitehead was capable of being the interim city manager, a few were concerned that it could be too much to handle.

Whitehead already runs the city's largest department and supervises about 60 percent of the city's staff. Given his responsibilities, both Bobby Howard and Dave Emanuel said the city could run fine without an interim city manager.

"My feeling (is) that the staff here -- for the next 60 days -- can do the job they were hired to and do it extremely well without putting anybody in a position of having to make a decision like this," Howard said earlier in the evening during initial discussion. "I don't think the counsel of the chief goes away if he is not the interim city manager."

Councilman Mike Sabbagh spoke in favor of the mayor's nomination, saying the chief was capable of doing both jobs. Besides, he added, is about 100 yards away.

"His management style and his ability to do this, I believe, is beyond many," Sabbagh said.

Just as council members were wrapping up initial discussion and a vote was about to be called -- with several members in opposition -- Councilwoman Diane Krause asked for an executive session.

And, about 30 minutes later, the board came back out, and something that's proven rare in the past for critical decisions happened. Everyone voted the same way -- in favor of the chief's nomination.

Those who voiced opposition before changed their votes. Why? Council members appeared to decide that having an interim city manager was better than none.

If the city council had not affirmed Whitehead's nomination, the mayor would have been the sole person responsible for the city's business, despite not being able to have a supervisory role over any of the employees.

It is unclear how the chief will be compensated for the extra work, however. Kautz said it's standard to offer a bonus in situations like this, but that would be something determined by council.

In the meantime, Norcross-based Slavin Management Consultants are working to narrow choices down for a permanent replacement. The former city manager, completed his work for the city on Friday, April 6.

Gail Lane April 10, 2012 at 03:15 PM
If anyone were to make a dual role like this work, it will be Chief Whitehead! With the cooperation of the council and the professionalism of Snellville's staff, I'm sure he will be able to keep the operations of both aspects running exceptionally well. Congrats and best of luck!
mike puglise April 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
A good man for the job!
Joy L. Woodson April 10, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I, for one, am glad we can move on to something else. Council has been talking about this for months. Congrats to the Chief!
Jennifer April 11, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I don't think anyone knows the city better than him...he's perfect for the position.

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