City man­ager to re­tire; search for re­place­ment be­gins

The Covington News - - Front Page - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

The city of Ox­ford is look­ing for a new chief ex­ec­u­tive fol­low­ing City Man­ager Clark Miller’s an­nounce­ment early this week that he is re­tir­ing.

Miller, 60, who has been city man­ager since mid- 2011, is re­tir­ing be­cause of health con­cerns but will stay on un­til a re­place­ment is found, which Mayor Jerry Rose­berry said should be within two months.

Rose­berry said city lead­ers will ask the Ge­or­gia Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion, an

ad­vo­cacy and trade group for city of­fi­cials, and the North­east Ge­or­gia Re­gional Com­mis­sion, a state gov­ern­ment en­tity that over­sees the re­gion of the state in­clud­ing New­ton County, to help in the search and re­cruit­ment.

“We an­tic­i­pate in­ter­view­ing sev­eral ap­pli­cants be­fore fi­nally set­tling on one,” Rose­berry said Thurs­day.

The po­si­tion is expected to pay a start­ing salary of $50,000 to $60,000, and Rose­berry said of­fi­cials are look­ing for a can­di­date with some com­bi­na­tion of ed­u­ca­tion, such as a de­gree in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion, and prac­ti­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Ide­ally, it would be some­body from a town sim­i­lar in size to Ox­ford. But we’re not the typ­i­cal small town be­ing con­nected to Emory like we are. We also have our own elec­tri­cal ser­vice, wa­ter and sewer ser­vice,” said Rose­berry, who noted that Ox­ford pro­vides all 12 ser­vices that the state of Ge­or­gia al­lows cities to pro­vide. “We have a lot of ac­tiv­ity in a town of 2,500 peo­ple, and a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent de­part­ments that have to be man­aged, elec­tri- cal and wa­ter. They would have to have some busi­ness back­ground, or at least un­der­stand in­come state­ments and bal­ance sheets.”

Ox­ford of­fi­cially moved to a city man­ager form of gov­ern­ment July 1, 2011; un­der that sys­tem, the city man­ager is the top ex­ec­u­tive in the city but still re­ports to the coun­cil as a whole, though he’s not an­swer­able to any one in­di­vid­ual.

Ox­ford’s over­all oper­at­ing bud­get was more than $4 mil­lion this fis­cal year, with a gen­eral oper­at­ing bud­get (not in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal and wa­ter sales) of $1.76 mil­lion. Miller looks back

A po­lice of­fi­cer by trade, Miller ex­pe­ri­enced a some­what cir­cuitous route in his path to be­com­ing the first city man­ager in Ox­ford’s his­tory.

He ini­tially re­tired from full-time work around 2004 af­ter spend­ing more than 26 years with the DeKalb County Sher­iff’s Of­fice. He took on a cou­ple of part-time jobs in the field be­fore lo­cal res­i­dent Doug Bolton told him about a in­terim chief of po­lice job in Ox­ford.

That seemed like a good fit for Miller who was hired and be­gan work­ing in 2008, and just kept on work­ing, eventu- ally be­com­ing the per­ma­nent chief.

When the Ox­ford City Coun­cil de­cided to switch to a city man­ager sys­tem, Miller was thought of as a nat­u­ral choice to be­come in­terim city man­ager. He then was named of­fi­cial city man­ager and has been run­ning the city ever since.

Now though, the stress of all those years in po­lice work has fi­nally caught up to Miller, who’s call­ing it quits and look­ing for­ward to a more re­lax­ing time spent on the golf course.

“As all old guys do, we de­velop cer­tain mal­adies,” Miller said Thurs­day. “The doc­tor said he would like me to lower my stress lev­els and so that’s all I’m try­ing to do. A lot of that is my own per­son­al­ity type and how you go about do­ing work and that kind of stuff. You de­velop habits that make you suc­cess­ful over years, the way you do your work and the in­ten­sity you put into it. But the body type changes, and soon you have a pill for this and a pill for that. Then (the doc­tors) say, ‘You may want to make a change.’ So I am.

“It’s not the job, not the peo­ple and not my em­ploy­ees. Truly ev­ery­body does their best to work to­gether here, but it’s just a thing where I need to make a life­style change for the long term.”

Rose­berry had only praise for Miller, say­ing he was in­stru­men­tal in re­form­ing the city’s po­lice depart­ment and brin­ing a higher qual­ity of law en­force­ment to the town.

“There were some se­ri­ous prob­lems in our pub­lic safety depart­ment. We changed po­lice chiefs and changed the stan­dard for of­fi­cers we hired. Clark fit in there great with that, and now if you ap­ply for a job as an of­fi­cer, you bet­ter have your act to- gether or you’re not go­ing to walk in here… A lot of guys fail and don’t get through. Now, we’re proud of you, be con­fi­dent that you’ll be­have your­self. We have not had one se­ri­ous com­plaint since he’s been there.

“We’re sorry to see him go.”

Though Miller has no plans to move from his Snel­lville home, he imag­ines he’ll stay in touch with good friends in New­ton County. How­ever, he said he’ll miss time spent with co­work­ers the most.

“The peo­ple and the city and the co­op­er­a­tion and the gen­eral de­meanor of a small town,” Miller said, when asked what he’ll miss. “I came from DeKalb, which doesn’t have that, and I was on the county end of it, not in a city. I en­joyed the small town and small-town ap­proach to polic­ing. It gave me an op­por­tu­nity to meet and know who you’re deal­ing with, not just one of 750,000 res­i­dents who want the po­lice to at­tend to an is­sue. It was a much nicer view of civil ser­vice.”

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Ox­ford City Man­ager Clark Miller an­nounced this week that he’ll be re­tir­ing from the city’s top job.

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