by Hatcher Hurd / Appen Newspapers
August 25, 2008 MILTON — For the second time in its 20-month history, Milton is without its city manager.Milton City Manager Billy Beckett announced his resignation from his position with the city effective Sept. 24, ending a roughly four-month tenure at a crucial time in the city's budget process.He was the second city manager Milton has had in less than two years. Aaron Bovos resigned in August 2007 following fallout from an $850,000 filing mistake.
Among the reasons Beckett cited were ongoing e-mail exchanges with several council members he felt hamstrung his ability to do his job in a competent, timely manner. He said the tipping point was an exchange with Councilman Alan Tart Aug. 23.Tart said the e-mail exchange involved several statements Beckett made to citizens regarding Milton's sewer policy. Tart said he'd found the statements to be false, and wanted to know how Beckett was going to deal with it."I was not going to take the fall to the citizens," Tart said. Beckett wrote back saying he would resign if Tart's feelings were so strong. "It's almost like I called him on an error, and rather than fix the problem, he resigned," said Tart. "It's like we're dealing with a 5-year-old."
Beckett, who has more than 30 years of government experience, most of it as a city or county manager, said there were many reasons for his stepping down, but mainly it was a culmination of a lack of ability to communicate with a restive minority on the City Council. Beckett said he was discouraged by the continual barrage of e-mails from council members demanding information or requests, and often cast in an adversarial light."I determined this was not a good fit. It had more to do with the chemistry with three of the council members ultimately," Beckett said. "It was challenging that I did not have the resources to meet all of their requests."
Beckett said the lack of an assistant to help deal with the ongoing requests for information, reports and research of issues contributed to his decision. But Beckett also said he felt he was not able to keep the City Council on a course to deal with the issues, and instead got sidetracked too often.Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said Beckett sent an e-mail to council Saturday, Aug. 23, saying he'd had enough. He officially resigned Monday."I have nothing but excellent things to say about Billy Beckett," the mayor said. "Every one of our citizens, all of our staff liked him, he had a great working relationship. I Guess there just wasn't chemistry with others."With Beckett citing the heavy demands on his time placed by only several members of the council, Lockwood said there city needs to take a look at how it currently works."I am prepared to work on the procedures and processes to allow the city manager to do his job," said Lockwood. "I feel a majority of council would support that."Beckett was appointed unanimously by council April 21 after a roughly seven-month search.