Jeff Chapman

The longtime local politician selected by the Glynn County commissioners to be county manager has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Jeff Chapman, the county’s two-term tax commissioner, informed commission Chairman Wayne Neal of his decision in a letter dated Tuesday

“After my interview and with more thoughtful consideration I realized a one-year employment contract would not allow me to pursue this any further for my family and community,” Chapman wrote. “The meaningful opportunity the public has given me in the last four years as your elected Tax Commissioner to improve the structure and service of the Tax Office weighed heavily in my decision.”

In a 4-3 vote, the commissioners on July 1 voted to make Chapman the sole candidate for the job, even though he hadn’t formally applied for it. In doing so, the commissioners set aside two qualified candidates – both women — recommended by a professional search firm hired by the county.

The commission had planned to officially appoint Chapman at Thursday’s meeting. The appointment had generated some controversy and opponents had taken to social media to protest Chapman’s unorthodox appointment.

Kathryn Downs, who was assistant county manager, will continue as acting county manager until  July 23, her last day following her resignation, according to an email sent Tuesday afternoon by the county. even though. The commission will “make a decision regarding the acting county manager role prior to that date,” the email said.

Alan Ours, who had held the job since 2010, resigned in mid-February giving the county six months’ notice. The county commission terminated Ours on April 1. He was hired in May as county manager for Lumpkin County. 

In March, the county hired Mercer Group Associates to find a replacement for Ours. The firm agreed to a base fee $17,500 plus expenses, according to the county’s agreement with the firm.

One of the candidates has extensive experience with Glynn County government. Tonya Miller, Glynn County’s former chief financial officer, spent six years with the county before leaving in 2019. Ms. Miller, 51, accepted the job as city manager in Waycross, a position she has held since her departure.

The other candidate identified by Mercer Group is Alicia Vaughn who was county manager in Northwest Georgia’s Catoosa County until she resigned in April. She recently accepted a position in Habersham County.

Instead of following the search firm’s recommendation, the county commissioners made Chapman the sole candidate even though he didn’t meet the advertised requirements for the job.

The requirements set by the county in its official search document for the position had included:

·  A bachelor’s degree in public administration, business administration or related field. A master’s degree was ‘preferred.’

·  Seven years of progressive management experience in a local government of similar size or complexity as Glynn County or applicable executive type experience.

·  Evidence of continued professional development such as gaining additional credentials from the International City/County Managers Association.

Chapman does not have a college degree and has never held a post as a professional public administrator, a review of his career shows.  He has been a county commissioner, state legislator and ran unsuccessfully for governor and Congress.

The county manager’s job most recently came with an annual salary of $181,750, county records show. Chapman makes $105,298 as tax commissioner.

With 15 employees and a budget of $1.8 million, the tax commission’s responsibility doesn’t match the scale of the county government with 940 employees and an annual budget of $144 million. Even so, commissioners said they were satisfied that Chapman’s public career and his status as a Glynn County native sufficiently qualified him for the county manager’ job.