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Warner Robins shuffles city hall leadership, works on finalizing new hire, retention bonuses

Mayor, council to fill multiple positions with new interims as they work to fill them permanently, and working to finalize new hire, retention bonus disbursement.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — There have been a bunch of leadership changes at Warner Robins City Hall and more expected soon. That's according to Mayor LaRhonda Patrick.

Warner Robins City Hall's employee roster has seen a lot of recent turnover.

"We knew we had a very veteran staff," Councilman Keith Lauritsen said.

Lauritsen said many of their leaders had worked several decades for the city.

"We're facing those challenges just like every business, every government. We are just trying to weather the storm the best we can," Lauritsen said.

In September, Bill Mulkey retired from the Building and Transportation Department. Now, Terry Wood is Interim Director of Building Inspection.

"They have over 30 years, the plans were to leave even before I got in office," Mayor LaRhonda Patrick said.

Finance Director Holly Gross also retired in September. Patrick says Lydia Humphrey is the Interim Assistant Finance Director. 

In addition, former Police Chief John Wagner retired the same month. In October, the city appointed Wayne Fischer Interim Chief of Police. City leaders hope to hire a permanent chief next year.

Councilman Charlie Bibb says it's unfortunate that a lot of people retired at the same time.

"Probably the greatest thing we could do even though there are positions that need to be filled is to not rush it, but find the very qualified people who will help our city take us into the future," Bibb said.

About a month ago, the city appointed a new Interim City administrator James Dodson. He used to work in the recreation department and is expected to help for at least six months.

"He hit the ground running. That's what I wanted, someone who hit the ground running. They already know the majority of our directors. They already know the culture and the makeup of our city, so there was no learning curve," Patrick said.

"We really feel like we want the right person. We are going to get things going in the right direction. I can promise that. It's going to take a little more time, but we are heading in the right direction," Lauritsen said.

Warner Robins City Attorney Julia Mize is out on medical leave. Judge Fred Graham is filling in.

The City of Warner Robins has also struggled this year to hire police officers, but now, long-awaited retention bonuses could be on the way. 

You may remember 13WMAZ telling you about the mayor and council's idea of public safety new hire, retention bonuses at a city council meeting in May. They approved the bonuses in July and set the tax rate to pay for them in September. Then in October, Patrick told us she'd asked the city attorney to finish an acknowledgement of conditions contract.

As of Wednesday Patrick says the agreements that are coupled with the first payment have already been approved and bonuses for all public safety will come at the same time. She hopes that's in mid-December.

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