Bill Keefer submits resignation to Council Monday night

At the conclusion of Monday night's City Council agenda and taking care of business items, Augusta Mayor Kristey Williams called for a 10 minute executive session concerning a non-elected personnel matter.

Following the executive session, City Manager Bill Keefer announced his resignation, "Please consider this as my resignation as the City Manager for the City of Augusta. With a heavy heart, I have accepted a position as City Manager in another community. My resignation will be effective Friday, May 17th, at 5 p.m. which honors the two month notification per my employment contract and allows time to work with staff and the City Council to begin transition to a new City Manager. At this time, I am unable to divulge the new community, but will do so later this week.

Augusta has been my home for over 16 1/2 years and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity that the City of Augusta has afforded me during this timeframe to serve our community. I would be remiss if I did not thank the many loyal and dedicated city employees who I have been blessed to work with over the years and their resolve to do their best to serve our citizens. Thank you."

Mayor Williams responded, "Bill, with a heavy heart we accept your resignation. I thank you so much for everything you have done for Augusta."

January meeting controversy

Keefer's letter did not include any specific reason for his decision, but at the Jan. 7th council meeting there was controversy concerning the renewal of his contract. After attempting unsuccessfully to negotiate the city manager's contract in a public meeting, the governing body finally agreed to extend Bill Keefer's contract for one year including a two percent merit pay increase.

Following two noisy executive sessions, Councilor Matt Childers made a motion to extend Keefer's contract for employment for two years including the two percent merit pay increase. Mike Rawlings seconded the motion that failed 2-5 with Mike Martin, Matt Malone, Mike Huddleston, Sue Jones, and Mike Wallace voting against renewing the contract.

At that point, Wallace made a motion that attempted to amend the contract between Keefer and the city.

"I would make a motion that we approve a one-year contract with the deletion of the twelve-month severance pay clause," Wallace said. Malone seconded that motion.

Childers interjected and asked for legal counsel from City Attorney David All. Childers was concerned about benefits being taken out of the contract.

All explained that the question was over a clause that protects the city manager from termination by paying his salary and medical insurance for a year should he be terminated or if his contract is not renewed. If Keefer chose to, he would be able to work as an "at will" employee.

After lengthy discussion Mayor Kristey Williams called for a vote on the motion to extend the contract. It passed 5-2 with Huddleston and Martin voting against renewing the contract.

Missing council members at Monday night's meeting were Mike Huddleston, Mike Wallace, and Matt Malone.

There will be more on Keefer's resignation in Thursday's Gazette