Toccoa Commissioners Fire Mike Jackson, Former City Manager Morse in Line to Return

Toccoa City Commissioners fire City Manager Mike Jackson and are looking to the past for his replacement.

At a special called meeting this morning, city commissioners unanimously voted to terminate Jackson as city manager and announced the commission would vote on hiring former Toccoa City Manager, and current Franklin County Manager, Billy Morse, at the city commission’s regularly scheduled September 23 meeting, to replace Jackson as city manager.

Jackson first became interim Toccoa City Manager in August 2011.  He was hired to the City Manager’s position permanently on January 1, 2012.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said the commission’s goal was to eventually bring someone in for the long term

“The goal, his (Jackson’s) goal, our goal, was to bring somebody in that would be on a permanent basis for a long term,” said Austin.  “We determined that Billy Morse, who had been the city manager here, would be the ideal candidate instead of bringing someone in and training them, here is someone who has already done the job, so we determined we would hire him.  Since Mr. Jackson had an indefinite contract, we asked him to resign, which he did not wish to do.  He chose to be terminated.”

Austin said Jackson’s termination was not a performance issue.

He added that Jackson provided what the city needed when he was hired just over two years ago.

“He came in and was a stabilizing force when he came in after we had several city managers leave,” said Austin.  “That is what we were looking for, someone who was a stabilizing force.  He did a good job along those lines.  He did a good job running the departments and the city.”

As for the decision to bring back Morse, Austin said the commission interviewed no other candidates, considering Morse the best option and sole finalist for the city.

“Billy is someone, like I said, who had served the city well,” said Austin.  “We felt that, knowing the city and the employees and having worked here for so many years, he would be someone that could hit the ground running, without training and that kind of thing.”

Morse served as Toccoa City Manager for more than seven years before leaving the post in October 2009 and becoming Franklin County Manager a month later.  He had worked for the city of Toccoa for 26 years overall, holding a number of positions prior to city manager, including planning director, assistant city manager, and public works director.

As for Jackson, he was not in attendance for Tuesday’s called meeting.

Under the terms of his employment agreement with the city, Jackson will receive six months’ salary as severance, which totals $57,000, along with compensation for any accrued and unused sick leave, vacation time, and paid holidays.