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College Park city manager moving to Virginia

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

marauz@news-daily.com

College Park's mayor and council recognized City Manager William Johnson, III, for his service to the city, during a recent council meeting. Johnson announced his resignation on June 20.

Mayor Jack Longino presented Johnson with a plaque and a proclamation, on July 18.

Johnson said his last day as city manager will be today. "Never compromise your ethics ... for your career," said Johnson to citizens and city officials, during the meeting in which he was honored.

Longino said Johnson was an outstanding city manager, and will hold a special place in College Park. "Things change in life," said the mayor, explaining Johnson's departure.

He said his decision to resign did not involve the litigation between College Park, and the City of Atlanta, which was publicized on June 23. "It was just timing," he said.

According to documents from the Court of Appeals of Georgia, Atlanta and College Park each claim the right to tax businesses that are both located in College Park city limits, and operating at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Longino said Hugh Austin, executive director of the Georgia International Convention Center, will serve as interim city manager when Johnson steps down.

Johnson said this wasn't his first time resigning as College Park's city manager. He said he was first employed as city manager from July 2005, to July 2007.

The city manager said he was proud of the projects he has involved in at that time. He said the projects improved the quality of life for College Park residents. The projects included such things as the Gateway Center development, and a succession-planning strategy and program, that offered internal promotion opportunities to College Park staff members.

A job opportunity arose in Chesterfield County, Va., Johnson said. The county was in search of a deputy administrator for its management services division. Johnson added that he hails from Richmond, Va., and the move seemed to be a wise career decision. He said he applied for the position and was hired.

He missed his experience in College Park, however, he said, and what he contributed to the city. The city was interested in his return as city manager, as well, so,

in July of 2009, College Park hired him back.

He has been credited with various accomplishments during his second tenure, including the integration of the city's meter-reading division with College Park's customer service operation, which improved communication between both entities, officials said.

"The mayor and council gave authority for it, on January 2011," he said.

He said the division is responsible for reading electric and water meters in the city. Customer service handles the billing process of these readings, he said.

Johnson said he also had a hand on improving the irrigation system at the College Park Golf Course. The golf course was established in 1929, he said.

The irrigation system's installation was made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he said. The city received $5 million in stimulus funds for the project. The installation was completed in December 2010.

Johnson said the irrigation system includes a unique filtration process. "That is the only filtration system of its kind on the east coast," boasted Johnson. It allowed the city to reduce water costs, increase the water pressure of irrigation, and raise the availability of water at no cost to the city, he said.

Even so, he said he believes it is time to turn the page and move on. "I saw an opportunity to go back home [Richmond, Va.] and see my daughter," said Johnson. "She is a senior in high school."

Johnson said his departure from the city is bittersweet. Returning and working for the city, yet again, is not foreseen in the near future, though it is not impossible, he said.

"You never say never," said Johnson, with a chuckle.