LaGrange names sole finalist for city manager position

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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You can drop the interim tag. Patrick Bowie has earned the job as LaGrange’s new city manager.

Although it won’t be official for two weeks, Utilities Director and Interim City Manager Bowie was named the sole finalist for the position at the close of the LaGrange mayor and council meeting on Tuesday night.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Arrington, who was subbing for ailing Mayor Willie T. Edmondson, said Bowie was named the only finalist out of about two dozen candidates. He said Edmondson, although ill, had been in all of the interviews for the candidates.

Georgia law requires that the city council wait 14 days between naming a sole finalist and making the official appointment. The council plans to officially appoint Bowie at the next council meeting on Feb. 27.

The search to replace former City Manager Meg Kelsey took just over two months. Kelsey announced her resignation to take a job with her hometown of Newnan on Dec. 12.

Arrington said executive search specialist Tom Berry of Underwood and Company out of Thomasville, Georgia narrowed the candidates to 15, who were then individually interviewed, but Bowie was the standout.

The mayor and council unanimously selected Bowie, Arrington said.

Don’t expect an all-new LaGrange once Bowie officially takes the helm, though.

“The city’s very fortunate. We’ve had some good city managers in the past. And my goal is to continue the progress that they’ve made and hopefully, I’ll have my own little spin to it,” Bowie said.

Bowie said he is very pleased with where the city is financially and pleased with a lot of the current initiatives like parks and landscaping, as well as the new police and fire chief.

Arrington said that Bowie’s acumen with utilities was one of the big factors in him being offered the job.

“The candidates had to be able to run at least a $120 million budget, manage at least 420 employees and understand a utility city,” Arrington said.

The city of LaGrange does not collect a property tax and instead pays for city operations using proceeds from utility sales.

Utilities by themselves represent about two-thirds of the city’s overall budget, so Bowie has shown he is capable of managing a large budget, Arrington said.

“We try to run the city like a business. That comes from our involvement in utilities. When you’re in business, you’ve got to take care of the customer. In our case, it’s the citizens and making sure that their needs are met, that we’re providing services in an efficient and effective and professional manner,” Bowie said. “My goal is to continue that work.”

Addressing recent crime trends in LaGrange, Bowie said he told the council during his interview that the number one goal for any government should be public safety.

“If you don’t have a safe environment, in your city, then nothing else matters. So our number one goal as a city government is to make sure that it’s a safe place to live and do business,” Bowie said, noting working with Police Chief Fiveash is always going to be a focus.

Bowie said he plans to continue to serve as utilities director until they figure out how things need to be structured.

“I’m still kind of thinking about that, if I can flatten the organization a little bit and do both jobs for a while,” he said, noting it would save the city some money.

“I’ve got some really good department managers that run the water, sewer, gas and electric and customer service. They’re going to step up and help me out in those areas and that will free me up more to handle the city manager aspects of the job.”