Lott out in July 2011

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- City Manager Alfred Lott has tendered his letter of resignation to Mayor Willie Adams, proposing his last day be July 30, 2011.

In an interview with The Herald Wednesday, Lott said that recent events chronicled by the local media were not his motivation for leaving, but rather that he would like to relocate to Maryland or Northern Virginia where his wife had accepted a promotion.

In his letter, Lott requests the time to go through another budget process with his department heads and to continue refining spending controls through Fiscal year 2011.

"I'd like to lead the staff through the budget process in the coming year, which I'm sure will be a challenge in the current economic environment, to make sure that I leave the city on sound, financial footing," Lott said during an interview in his office.

Lott, who told his department heads of his decision during a staff meeting earlier in the day, said that he'd also like to get some of the vital leadership positions within the city filled before he leaves.

"I'd want to be able to hand over a reasonably full staff and a stable organization to whomever comes in," Lott said.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams, who had lunch with Lott Tuesday following an executive session of the city commission, said that he's thankful for the work that Lott has done to adhere to the directives of the commission.

"Certainly he's made a career decision and I have to respect that," Adams said. "I'm thankful for his leadership and his decision to make Albany his home for the last five years. He has been one of the best parts of my administration."

Lott also complimented the commission and the mayor. Lott said he considered not renewing his contract in 2008, but decided to stay largely "to be his manager."

Lott has recently become the focus of criticism following the resignation of former Human Resources Director Mary LaMont, who left in her departure a scathing letter of resignation accusing Lott and city staff of racial and gender discrimination and encouraging her to lie about matters involving city employees.

Lott maintained Wednesday that his resignation had nothing to do with the allegations leveled by LaMont and that this decision was contemplated long before Tuesday's executive session.

According to Lott's contract with the city, which was extended in August of 2008 but expires Sept. 19, he must give at least six months notice if he doesn't intend to renew it. If the commission agrees to Lott's July 30, 2011, time frame, they do have the option to extend Lott's contract by 12 months if they so desire.

Lott said that he feels the biggest accomplishments during his tenure as city manager including getting a grip on the city's finances and streamlining city services, implementing an re-formatted performance management program to accurately evaluate employees and working with staff to set up a new health plan that has already saved $2 million while providing a broad menu of health care options.

As for weaknesses, Lott candidly said that he wishes he had been better prepared to tackle the volume of work the city does with the federal Housing and Urban Development and low-income programs. He also wishes that the city had caught former Downtown Manager Don Buie's felony bank fraud conviction during the hiring process.

When asked if giving notice a year out gives him an excuse to be a lame-duck, Lott said he has "vowed to do my dead level best to keep the city on the right track through the time I have left."