PORTERDALE Longtime Porterdale City Manager Tom Fox told the mayor and City Council members Monday that he has accepted the position of public safety director for the city of Social Circle. Fox's resignation will be effective Feb. 5, and he expects to assume his new post on Feb. 8.
Fox said the Porterdale City Council will hold a called meeting today at 6:30 p.m. to officially accept his resignation and to discuss naming an interim city manager.
Social Circle announced the decision to hire Fox at its City Council meeting Tuesday night. Social Circle City Manager Doug White said the salary for the public safety director ranges from the mid-$50,000s to the upper-$60,000s. Fox currently makes about $61,000 a year in Porterdale.
Fox, who has worked for Porterdale for nearly 13 years, has worn many hats under the city's employ. He began in 1997 as a police officer and became assistant chief in 1999. He later served as police chief and was appointed city manager and director of police services in 2000. He also serves as elections superintendent.
During his tenure, Porterdale established a Public Works Department and expanded and upgraded its Police Department.
"I've seen the city grow from just a small crew through the years," Fox said. "Through the years we've added some departments and directors, and we've been able to do a lot. Of course, the economy is hurting us now."
Fox, 46, has been instrumental in guiding the city through tough financial times due to the current recession. This year he recommended the city hold a referendum calling for a $10,000 homestead exemption designed to help offset a potential millage rate increase for property owners that may be needed to balance the budget.
Council members contacted Wednesday said they wished Fox well in his new endeavor.
"Tom has done a lot for Porterdale," said Councilman Mike Harper. "We've got a lot going on behind the scenes, and I hope we can find someone who can pick up the ball and run with it."
Councilwoman Linda Finger said she was caught off guard by Fox's resignation.
"He says that he has a good opportunity to move on, and he thinks it is time for him to move on," Finger said. "He seems really excited about the new opportunity he has in Social Circle, so I'm happy for him."
Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Foxworth also wished Fox well, adding that the city must now turn its attention to finding a successor.
"We need to get somebody in there, but we aren't going to jump at the first applicant that comes along, either," Foxworth said.
White said that as public works director for Social Circle, Fox will be responsible for the city's combined police and fire departments. He will oversee a staff of about 28, compared to Porterdale's payroll of about 13 employees.
"He'll be an administrator for both the fire operations and the law enforcement operations and manage all the people in both disciplines," White said. "Most all of our folks are cross-trained ... and Tom will have to gear up on the fire side. There is some training he'll need to go through, and he's agreed to do that."
White said he is looking forward to bringing Fox's leadership skills to Social Circle.
"We're anxious to get him on board and working with us, and I think we are going to be blessed to have him in the community," White said.
In the meantime, Fox said he plans to work toward a smooth transition for Porterdale.
"I wish Porterdale well," Fox said. "And I'll be glad to assist as much as I can to make it through the transition. I'll be happy to help the community in any way I can be of assistance."
Fox has not always been on such happy terms with all of the council members. He tendered a letter of resignation in November 2008, citing Porterdale's unstable political climate generated by dissension among council members. A few days later Fox rescinded his letter of resignation. The council met in closed session to discuss the issue, but lacked a quorum to vote after Finger left the meeting.
Fox, who lives in Rockdale County with his wife and two children, said he has no immediate plans to relocate to Social Circle.