After less than three years as Statesboro's city manager but with 40 years in local-government management across the country, Randy Wetmore will retire six months from now, he and Mayor Jonathan McCollar said Wednesday.
This explained a vote by City Council, after a closed session Wetmore had requested to discuss a personnel matter, at the conclusion of Tuesday evening's regular meeting. The closed session lasted more than half an hour, and after the doors were reopened to the public, McCollar announced an action that sounded like Wetmore was being granted a shorter work week and added vacation time, as in fact he was.
"Let it be recognized that we've made an addendum to our city manager's contract, which will expire on May 31, 2019, that will include a 32-hour work week and an additional 80 hours paid vacation to begin in the 2019 calendar year," McCollar said.
Council members voiced the motion, seconded it and voted 5-0 approval without comment.
But the clue was that Wetmore's previous contract did not expire May 31. It had no fixed expiration date, providing instead that he had to give a 45-day notice or, if the mayor and council cancelled the contract without cause, they had to award him six months' severance pay.
Hired after a national search, Wetmore officially started as Statesboro's city manager Sept. 1, 2016. He came here from Marshalltown, Iowa, where he was city manager 2010–16, and has now worked in management roles for local governments in six states. Wetmore attained his master's degree in public administration from the University of Kansas, in his original home state.
"I'm at that time in my career where I'm just six months away from having 40 years in local-government management, and I thought by announcing now, that will give the organization time to do the recruitment process to find a new city manager," Wetmore said Wednesday. "It gives us time to get our projects in line, and I can give staff the information I have so everything will be a smooth transition."
Fewer required hours
Officially, he has a 40-hour work week through 2018, and the reduction to 32 hours will not reduce his pay, which is a straight salary.
"That will be 32 hours if that's possible during the week," he said. "If it takes 40 hours to accomplish what needs to be done, I'll be there for 40 hours. If it takes 50 hours, which is a typical week now, I'm going to make sure that we're getting done what needs to be done."
Randy Wetmore and his wife, Andrea Wetmore, have enjoyed making Statesboro their home and plan to remain here, he said.
"That's our plans for the next few years at least," Wetmore said. "I enjoy Georgia Southern football, basketball and baseball, and so does my wife. We like the area, and we don't have any plans to move soon, that's for sure."
McCollar, in a phone interview Wednesday, also characterized Wetmore's planned departure from City Hall as a retirement, and said it was Wetmore's idea and not the mayor and council's.
"Randy has been doing this for 40 years and wants to enjoy the latter years of his life and slow down a little bit, and so May 31 is going to be his last day with the city," McCollar said. "He may be in a consultation mode per his contract, depending on whether or not we've hired someone new into that position, but we're going to begin the search immediately for a new city manager."
The first steps for that search should be taken in December, and city officials will "play it by ear" for when a new manager is hired and Wetmore transitions to a consulting role, the mayor said.
Wetmore was hired during the administration of former Mayor Jan Moore. When Wetmore arrived, Robert Cheshire, previously the city engineer, had served more than two years as interim city manager, after the council in mid-2014 fired a previous manager.
Cheshire, who served as deputy city manager under Wetmore, resigned to return to private engineering work in August. Wetmore later requested an organizational change that would allow him to hire two assistant city managers instead of one deputy manager. When council approved the change on a 3-1 vote in October, Councilman Sam Lee Jones, who voted "no," noted that Cheshire had served without a deputy manager, and McCollar questioned whether adding an assistant manager was the best use of city funds.
Two people already employed by the city may serve in those positions in the interim, but the elected officials will then look to the next city manager to determine the organizational chart, McCollar said Wednesday.
"So we're not looking to put anyone in any permanent position until we bring on the new city manager," he said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.