Trenton, Ga., officials' decision to eliminate the position of Better Hometown manager led six of the seven members of the city's Downtown Development Authority board to resign as one last week.
Trenton Mayor Anthony Emanuel said city officials had little choice but to eliminate the position in the face of needed spending cuts. The job oversees a self-help community development program aimed at revitalizing the downtowns of small cities.
"When I came in office in January, we were very deliberate in reviewing financial information on a line-item basis," Emanuel said Monday. "Nothing was sacred."
The city was almost $500,000 in the red just a few months ago, he said, and "in that analysis it pointed us very quickly toward the direction of expenses."
He said officials had to break city spending into essential and nonessential programs and prioritize the necessities, and Better Hometown manager Peter Cervelli's job was nonessential.
"We regret being forced to make that decision, because it had nothing to do with the performance of the person who was in that position," Emanuel said.
The post cost the city between $5,000 and $6,000 a month, according to the mayor.
Emanuel said he was "disappointed" the board members resigned last week but not surprised.
The only board member who didn't resign, Kenny Earwood, was not present to sign the letter of resignation at the board's April 23 meeting, officials said.
Once the town gets back on its feet financially, the board could be reformed, Emanuel said.
Two of the resigning board members said they believed the mass resignation mostly was due to board members not being able to take on the manager's job.
"There were not any board members that could do it," former co-chairwoman Ann Brown said this week. Cervelli "was the one who kept us all going as a group."
Brown said she couldn't "take the time that he put in it, and I think the rest of the board members felt the same way."
Former board member Robin Rogers said he already felt he was unable to put in the needed time as a board member, and demands only were going to be greater without Cervelli.
"The Better Hometown manager was running it, and with the elimination of that position I simply do not have time to run it," Rogers said.
Brown and Rogers said they hoped the group will be reformed at some point.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...