Billy Beckett had been on the job five months
By DOUG NURSE / www.ajc.com
Monday, August 25, 2008
After five months on the job, Milton City Manager Billy Beckett threw in the towel Monday, saying he was tired of conflict. His resignation is effective Sept. 24. “I believe disagreement is healthy, but there’s no need to make it personal,” he said. “I’m not blaming anyone, but I wasn’t the right person for the job given the circumstances. It was just bad chemistry.”
The Milton City Council is embroiled in a contentious debate over whether to extend sewer in the city. Many residents believe sewer would bring density, which would ruin the semi-rural feel of the community. Others argue that some extension in some places is reasonable, and would help raise needed tax revenues.
Beckett was in the latter camp, which set him at odds with some council members. He said even though he had a majority on his side, it wasn’t worth it.“It’s a great city council, by and large,” said Beckett, a 30-year veteran of government administration. “There are some fundamental issues that are creating problems. Candidly, I think we were exhausting our resources and energy in a negative way.”
Beckett came with high expectations. A former Fayette County administrator and Riverdale city manager, he had a reputation as a straight-shooter and capable manager. He also is an NCAA and Arena Football referee. He said Monday he has no job prospects.
Milton has been riven with dissension since it’s inception Dec. 1, 2006. The November 2006 election re-arranged the alliances, but the split has remained.
Beckett was the third city manager the young city has had.The first resigned under pressure after the city council learned it had forfeited some tax revenue because of a missed filing deadline with the state. The second was Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom, who filled in for about eight months until the city found Beckett.
Mayor Joe Lockwood’s face showed his disappointment.“I can’t say I was too surprised,” Lockwood said. “It’s unfortunate. I felt the city was moving forward.”
Councilmember Alan Tart said he had had problems with Beckett giving him bad information and being unwilling to correct it. “He showed disrespect to the city council,” Tart said.