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Guyton City Council approves city manager contract
Guyton City Council
Bill Sawyer
Bill Sawyer - photo by Photo submitted
He's going to be able to come in and hit the ground running.
Mayor Russ Deen

  GUYTON — During a special called meeting Thursday night, the Guyton City Council unanimously approved a contract for the sole contender for its vacant city manager position.

Bill Sawyer, formerly the county manager in Schley County, was named the finalist May 21. He is set to report for work Monday.

“Experience,” Mayor Russ Deen said after being asked about Sawyer’s leading attribute. “He’s going to be able to come in and hit the ground running.”

Before directing Schley County government for seven years, Sawyer served as county manager in Macon County for 10 years and Pike County for two.

“He already knows significantly more about Georgia government than even most of the council,” Deen said. “We are all still learning and it is not the best time to bring in a rookie.”

Sawyer, who will be paid $65,000 annually and benefit from the use of a city vehicle and gas card, will be assisted for a few days by Brett Bennett, who has served as interim city manager since December. Bennett took over for Daniel Hofman, who resigned after accepting a job in Vermont.

Deen credited Bennett, the former Springfield city manager and owner of Laurel Street Consulting, for smoothly handling city operations during the search for Hofman’s permanent replacement. Bennett assisted the council in the search for Sawyer, new City Clerk Tina Chadwick and new Police Chief James Breletic.

“Brett has been great,” the mayor said. “I have no complaints about his time at all. He is one of those people who has an incredible amount of city government experience.”

Upon his arrival, Bennett insisted that the council follow Robert’s Rules of Order during its meetings. That move eased the tension in council chambers and led to calmer discussion before votes.

Deen said, “Brett has been an incredible asset in every situation we’ve dealt with — from the running of municipal government as well as how to function best as a council and a mayor, and make government work correctly.”

Sawyer’s hiring lacked the level of dissension that was apparent during the council’s 2019 search for a police chief. It featured four unsuccessful 3-2 votes for Richard Zapal, a former Savannah Police Department captain.

Breletic was named to the post by the current council, which features three new members, in March. Breletic’s selection was unanimous.

“I’ve got a great council,” Deen said. “I couldn’t ask for better. Everyone is willing to talk, communicate.

“If there are questions or concerns, they can come out in executive session. They can come out in one-on-one conversations that we have.”