Deputy city manager named for Covington

COVINGTON -- Public Works Director Billy Bouchillon has been appointed deputy city manager of the city of Covington.

City Manager Steve Horton made the appointment Wednesday morning. City officials have long discussed appointing a deputy city manager to assist Horton with his duties. Councilman Chris Smith brought the matter up again at the council meeting Monday night, but Horton said he was hesitant to make the appointment at that time.

"I have remained conservative with regards to this appointment because of my plans to retire. My thoughts were to let whomever is chosen to replace me make the appointment," Horton said Wednesday. "However, at the end of Monday's council meeting, there was a consensus from the elected officials that they wanted the position filled now to provide someone to fill in when I am in meetings, out of town, etc. and to also provide some additional measure of leadership continuity after I leave, regardless of when that may be."

Horton initially said he would leave around July, but told the council Monday night that health issues may necessitate an earlier departure.

"I am concerned with both some previous and recent health matters that are being evaluated. No decision to leave earlier than previously stated has been made, but the date could change," he said.

Horton said Bouchillon was selected as deputy city manager for many reasons, which include that "he is an excellent decision maker, he has around 30 years experience with several different city operations, he knows a great deal about the community, including many residents, business owners, industrial managers, as well as civic and government leaders. In addition to the qualities just mentioned, I trust him completely."

Horton was public works director and deputy city manager before he was appointed city manager in 2005 to replace retiring Frank Turner.

In other news, Audra Gutierrez was appointed city clerk by Horton. Gutierrez has been acting city clerk since Tonya Grier was arrested and charged with three counts of theft by deception in July regarding activities at Kohl's in Conyers, where she held a second job.

Asked whether Grier is still on administrative leave, Horton said that Grier is on layoff status. The city ordinance requires an appointment of city clerk each year. Gutierrez will continue to serve as administrative assistant as well.