Jackson County

Gautier takes city manager off job immediately

Samantha Abell, Gautier City Manager
Samantha Abell, Gautier City Manager

GAUTIER -- City leaders took Samantha Abell off the job Tuesday night and set up a two-day replacement until they can negotiate with the city attorney to take the job as interim.

Abell had announced last week she would be leaving and offered the City Council a two-month plan, but Tuesday night, after a long executive session, city leaders decided on a different tack. They accepted her resignation and gave her 30 days' pay.

They put Jason Pugh, human resources director, in the job until today, when they hope to negotiate a plan with the city attorney.

The vote was 4-2, with Mayor Gordon Gollott and Councilman Johnny Jones voting to keep Abell on for the two months. Councilwoman Mary Martin had left the meeting by the time of the vote.

The City Council plans a meeting at 4 p.m. today, giving city attorney Josh Danos time to determine what it would cost the city for him to take the job for a couple of weeks until city leaders select a full-time interim city manager.

Abell had a succession plan on the agenda for the city leaders to consider at Tuesday's meeting. She wanted to train her replacement and recommended Fire Chief Robert Jones for the job.

But that was thrown out Tuesday night in favor of letting her go immediately. One councilman said this situation is different from a retirement and pointed out Abell still hasn't said where she will be going when she leaves the city.

Abell confirmed to the Sun Herald her plans to resign last week after a line item appeared on the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting requesting approval of a succession plan to train a new city manager.

She had not yet set a date for her resignation because she told the Sun Herald she wanted to focus on making a "smooth transition" with her successor.

She said at that time she thought she would be able to provide the council with a departure date in about six weeks but wouldn't elaborate on what career opportunities she is considering.

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