City Manager Lott's future in question

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- It was business as usual for City Manager Alfred Lott following a private meeting with city commissioners Tuesday morning, as rumors swirled that a big announcement, perhaps concerning his future with the city, was coming in the next three days.

Lott sat in with commissioners during part of a closed-door, executive session Tuesday. Under Georgia law, commissioners can legally shut out the public from portions of their meetings that deal with either pending litigation, property acquisition or personnel matters.

Prior to Tuesday's open public meeting, agendas printed stated that the commission was slated to go into executive session but only for property acquisition. But Monday afternoon, Albany Mayor Willie Adams added "personnel matters" to the agenda item, City Clerk Sonja Tolbert said.

The commission took no action during the closed-door session Tuesday and some on the commission declined to state who or what they were discussing during the meeting.

Lott is no stranger to public criticism. He has been criticized for several controversial personnel moves, notably the termination of former Civic Center Director Mattie Goddard and the resignation of former assistant City Manager Kevin Hogencamp.

Those issues had largely fizzled out until a scandal erupted around former Downtown Manager Don Buie. While Buie and others would later be indicted and jailed, Lott became the target of criticism after it was revealed that Buie was hired despite having a felony conviction for bank fraud on his record.

Lately, Lott has been under fire after the resignation of former Human Resources Director Mary LaMont. In her resignation letter, Lott is accused of both racial and gender discrimination as well as encouraging her to make false statements about a situation involving another employee.

Lott has called the accusations absurd and contends he did not act inappropriately.

Lott has been criticized for his gruff, military-like persona, but he also has been commended for his achievements.

Under his leadership, the city has not raised the tax millage rate in the last five years and enjoys a multi-million fund balance or reserve fund --including a $4 million surplus last year -- despite a struggling economy.

Lott, his management team and department heads have also saved $2 million on insurance costs after renegotiating their city's insurance plan; developed a 311 center to help funnel citizen complaints to the right departments; updated the city's Code of Ordinances; implemented a project management tool to help with major city projects; created the Gang Unit and stabilized the city's retirement system.