The list of Georgetown City Hall employees who have left for other jobs or for personal reasons continues to grow.
The department that has been the most impacted is Finance where the assistant director, Walt Ackerman, announced this week he is leaving.
Starting later this month, Ackerman will be the new finance director for Williamsburg County.
“It was a tough decision on a personal level,” Ackerman said Thursday. “My family’s activities are here in Georgetown.”
His resignation comes on the heels of the news of the departure of his boss, City Finance Director Jessica Miller who announced in May she had accepted a job at a company in Litchfield.
Miller’s final day was Thursday.
Having the top two finance officials leaving at the same time is not good for the city because the 2012-13 budget has not yet been finalized and the annual audit is about to get underway.
As reported previously, Elizabeth Tucker, head of the city’s Building and Planning Department, resigned in mid-May.
The city’s purchasing agent, Bonnie Infinger, retired but is working part-time under a contract.
Kevin Rapps, head of the Information Technology Department left earlier this year for a job in the private sector.
Chris Eldridge, the city’s administrator since 2009, is leaving next week. He has been hired to take over the Horry County administrator’s position.
Those six positions will have to be filled by City Council.
Even though nearly everyone who has left their jobs at City Hall has been hired elsewhere, having six people leave in such a short period of time has some wondering if there is more to the story than just better career opportunities.
City Councilwoman Jeanette Ard said she has wanted to talk to the workers but hit a roadblock.
“I don’t fault anyone for getting a better job. But, I can say, we (council) were locked out of every department. We can’t just go in and sit and talk to them. The employees are afraid of us,” Ard said, adding she has been told Eldridge and Mayor Jack Scoville are the ones who gave the directive. “It makes you think something’s wrong.”
Eldridge is out of town and unreachable for comment.
Councilwoman Peggy Wayne said she feels the rumor mill may be a big part of the problem.
“There have been a lot of rumors going around that jobs were being cut so people have been finding new jobs,” Wayne said. “They feel there is no job security. But, I can tell you, council has not discussed doing away with any jobs.”
Wayne said “I am worried to death about our city. We have to have leadership.”
As reported Wednesday, Council will hold a special meeting at noon today. The purpose is to discuss and possibly hire an interim administrator but the overall personnel situation is also expected to be a hot topic.
When asked Thursday if there is a problem inside City Hall which is causing the departures, Scoville would only say the meeting today will be very important.
“There is an issue that needs to be discussed at the end of the meeting,” the mayor said Thursday but would not elaborate any further about “the issue.”
As far as the interim administrator is concerned, Wayne said she thinks now-retired former County Administrator Tommy Edwards should be given the opportunity.
“He knows enough about Georgetown and the people,” Wayne said.
Scoville said the man being considered is a retired administrator who lives in the Upstate. He has been recommended by the South Carolina Municipal Association.
By Scott Harper
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