Porterdale police chief resigns

PORTERDALE — Police Chief Wayne Digby said Friday afternoon he has tendered his resignation to the City Council, effective Oct. 15, citing issues with an employment contract offered by the city.

Digby said until recently his employment has been at the pleasure of the city manager with consent of the council. However, Digby said he felt the employment contract offered to him was "insulting," pointing out that the contract calls for a 90-hour pay period with no increase in compensation and no compensatory time off and prohibits him from working any part-time outside jobs. In addition, the contract changes the structure of his vacation and sick time earnings.

Digby also said the contract is unclear on who he reports to — the city manager, the mayor or the council itself.

Mayor Bobby Hamby said Digby has not discussed the contract issues with him. He said the city decided to pursue contracts for all department heads after the resignation of former City Manager Tom Fox earlier this year when some problems with the payroll and human resources system occurred.

"When Tom left it cost the city quite a bit of money to pay him his comp time," Hamby said. "We weren't aware it would have to be paid out in a lump sum that way; we were trying to protect the city's budget by having (department heads) under a contract."

Digby said he has discussed the contract issues with City Manager Bob Thomson and that two City Council meetings were called this week — one Tuesday and one Thursday — in order to discuss the contract with the council. However, he said there was no quorum of council members either day, so the meetings were canceled.

At this point, Digby said the council could not amend the contract to induce him to stay.

"If they do, I won't listen," Digby said. "I'm set on going Oct. 15. I've given them plenty of notice, six weeks, so they'd have plenty of time to find my replacement."

The chief has already removed most personal items from the walls of his office, and he said the remaining two — a turkey tail and plaque given him in recognition of his work as police chief — would be going home with him Friday.

Though he said he's enjoyed working in Porterdale, Digby said the city continues to be troubled by conflicting "personal agendas" of the council members.

"I'm going to remove myself from the City Council's problems," he said.

In his letter of resignation, tendered Sept. 1, Digby points to his accomplishments during his tenure — establishment of a K9 unit and drug enforcement team; training of a marijuana testing expert; addition of an investigator to the police force; addition of a chaplain to the staff, who also acts as a counselor for officers and the citizens; addition of an officer who is on the Newton County Child Abuse Investigation team; and participation in the "Ride to Provide" fundraiser.

"Obviously some of the council members don't think that is enough based on the employment agreement that has been presented to me with more hours to work without compensation, no outside part-time work to supplement the income, restrictions on vacation usage, unclear who this position actually reports to, etc.," Digby wrote.

"I have enjoyed interacting with the citizens of Porterdale and you," Digby added, "but I think it is in the best interest of everyone that I resign in good standing."

Digby's annual salary is $45,000. He supervises a force of one part-time and six full-time officers.

He said his recommendation to the council is to promote from within when naming his replacement. He suggested Lt. James Pilgrim, who was a supervisor with the Newton County Sheriff's Office and has his police chief's certification, as his successor.

Digby said he has retired twice before — once from BellSouth and once from the city of Covington. Following his resignation, he plans to work part-time for the city of Social Circle.

"I'm here because I wanted to be a help to the city, and I think I have been for about the past three and a half years," he said.