Monday, Dec. 9, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The city of Augusta headed in a new direction following a surprising Monday afternoon vote. City administrator Fred Russell is out at the end of the year after eleven years with the city.
Commissioners taking that vote this afternoon after a near 2 hour legal session.
City Administrator Fred Russell was texting on his phone with his feet up on the desk when he learned he was fired.
"Could y'all excuse me for a few minutes," said City Administrator Fred Russell.
Russell stayed in his office after learning of his termination. Commissioner Donnie Smith says he was shocked.
"I don't know what the circumstances are that they discussed in legal today. I'm not sure how I would have voted," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.
Commissioner Marion Williams made the motion to fire Russell. City Attorneys Andrew Mackenzie and Jody Smitherman were told to leave the room. The magic number of six was reached to fire him when seven commissioners voted yes.
"I think it starts from the top down. I think this commission is going to get serious about doing what it's supposed to be doing and handling the people's business," said Commissioner Marion Williams.
"Most of the community knows that Mr. Russell and the commission have been discussing his termination or release, said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Tamika Allen is next in line as Deputy Administrator, after Bill Shanahan took a new job in South Carolina and Russell's termination. Allen was lost for words.
"Right now, I can not answer that, a decision has not be made in that regards," said Deputy Administrator Tamika Allen.
After about an hour, Fred Russell finally came out of his office and stood with the very leaders who voted to fire him.
"You know working for ten people is tough. All these jobs are hard. Augusta has it's particular challenges and most of which are one's that we created ourselves. We are proud of what we've done and what this commission has done in the past. We are very proud for what's going to happen," said City Administrator Fred Russell.
The city will have a nationwide search to replace him. Russell's severance package of $100,000 is under review.
Commissioners also voted to hire a professional head hunter to find a new administrator, and say they will appoint an interim administrator next week.