Augusta leaders shocked by city administrator’s exit

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:55 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Surprised and shocked, that’s how Augusta commissioners feel after a sudden resignation by the city’s administrator.

After a little more than a year in Augusta, Odie Donald says he’s moving on. His last day is set for Feb. 25.

With this letter, Donald announced he’s stepping down as city administrator.

Odie Donald resignation letter.
Odie Donald resignation letter.

All of this occurred Tuesday night, leaving commissioners stunned.

“I was shocked. We had a meeting yesterday. Nothing was said, I didn’t see this coming,” said Catherine Smith-McKnight, Augusta Commission member representing District 3.

Brandon Garrett, commissioner for District 8, said: “There was actually kind of an inside running joke of how long he would last here, most of us thought he would at least make it two years, but apparently, he’s got an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

In a late-night phone call, Augusta commissioners learned they’ll soon have to hire another city administrator. After the former administrator resigned instead of being fired, Donald took on the role in October of 2020.

As admin, he manages the day-to-day operations of the Augusta government, working directly under the mayor and his 10 bosses on the commission.

Donald has two deputy administrators, and one of them could fill the interim position. As of right now, commissioners have not set up a meeting to talk about those next steps.

Jordan Johnson, commissioner, district one said: “Odie Donald is a talented man. He is well connected, he is talented, and in his short time here in Augusta, he has ushered us into our best days.”

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is why?

Garrett said: “Coming from the basically the top of our government in our day-to-day operations. I’m not sure, I’m not sure what the issue is.”

Smith-McKnight said: “He’s done a good job overall. I don’t think he’d be leaving because of his salary. He has a good salary here in Augusta.”

Donald’s salary is $240,000 a year. The highest administrator salary ever in Augusta, the former administrator made about $185,000.

Johnson said: “We’re losing someone in our city who gets the job done, but the show must go on.”

Commissioners now must appoint an interim administrator and start searching for a new one, likely with an even bigger salary coming out of your tax dollars.

Smith-McKnight said: “It doesn’t seem like now we can go back. Somebody that comes on board, they’re going to want to match that more likely or even ask for more.”

Garrett said: ″ This has been the third one in the last four years, anytime that you go through this search, it’s difficult.”

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