City leadership on management retreat

CORDELE, Ga. -- City of Albany department heads are meeting in a two-day retreat at Lake Blackshear to focus on city priorities and go through leadership training, city officials say.

The retreat, which involves City Manager Alfred Lott, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, City Attorney Nathan Davis and the heads of each of the city's 17 departments, is designed to improve relationships between departments while developing leadership training, Smith said.

"We want to make sure our department heads understand the traits and characteristics of good leadership so they can effectively advance the city's agenda through their departments," Smith said.

Smith said that the retreat is the first in two years and is needed to ensure that the city functions effectively as a unit.

With the recessions, some governments have been criticized for the practice of leaving their respective towns for multi-day trips on the taxpayers' dime.

City officials say the training session will cost between $3,000 and $4,000. The City just approved a FY2011 budget requiring funds be pulled from the city fund balance to fill a $4.9 million deficit.

When asked why the City couldn't have held the retreat locally, Smith said that sometimes city leaders need to get away from the distractions of the city.

"It's really nice to get away," Smith said. "There is an environment that allows for reflection and restoration that fosters open and free discussion and some interesting thoughts... Just because we aren't in the office doesn't mean we can't get work done. Everyone here is connected to their offices."

The retreat will wrap up today before noon, Smith said.

It's the second time that the city has used the resort for a retreat this year. City commissioners went there on their annual retreat during the winter to lay out their agenda and priorities for the year.

The county commission also used the facility for their retreat during the spring but did not stay overnight.