UPDATED ON 6: City Administrator Fred Russell, Augusta Commissio - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

UPDATED ON 6: City Administrator Fred Russell, Augusta Commissioners Speak Out After Russell's Firing

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Augusta, GA -

 

***UPDATED at 5:42 P.M. on Monday, December 9th***

Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell has been fired, effective the end of this year.

"Fred, were your aware of this? Your reaction?" we asked Russell. "Seriously, just give me a couple of minutes," he answered.

Augusta Commissioners, however, voted Monday to give Russell 22 days, voting 7-0 to fire him the end of this year. Three Commissioners were out at the time of the vote, including Donnie Smith.

"Certainly, it gives an opportunity for new leadership at the top level. The immediacy of this announcement has caught several of us off-guard," Smith said.

"Things need to change now. People are not going to be doing the same things they've been doing, and expecting different results. We have to do something differently," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

"I'm not going into one singular issue, as it relates to mister Russell...not here to bash him or anything like that. It was the will of the Commission to make this move today," said Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.

"It was several things, but of course, none of us are perfect. Let's be clear, we all make mistakes, but the bottom line of it is we knew if we wanted to go in a different direction, we needed somebody to take us there," said Commissioner Bill Lockett. "It was a multiplicity of things. I've been on this Commission four years, and three and a half years he should have been gone but he wasn't," Lockett added.

"Was it professional for you to be notified...not notified, and be told by the media?" we asked Russell. "That's immaterial, at this point in time. That's not the important thing, the important thing is we've come to a crossing and a cross roads. The Commission is going one way and Fred Russell is going to go another," said.

"Why not today? You say, 'why today?' But, why not today? What's wrong with today?" said Williams. "Well, it's right before Christmas, he gets three weeks notice, and he didn't know about it until I told him in his office, he was caught by surprise. Was this a nice way of handling it?" we asked Williams. "I don't know about nice, this is government," Williams answered.

Commissioners directed the Augusta Human Resources Department to hire a head hunting firm to begin the search for a certified new administrator.

Russell says, under his contract, he's entitled to six months severance pay and benefits. He says he expects Commissioners to honor the deal.

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***POSTED at 3:00 P.M. on Monday, December 9th***

WJBF News Channel 6 has learned that the Augusta Commission has voted to fire Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell.

Some Commissioners were upset at some things they said Russell did leading up to and after the 2014 city budget was voted on.

Then, last week, we reported that Russell and some Commissioners were talking about Russell's retirement, and that it was time for a change. Click here to view that story.

Details are limited, but our George Eskola is working to get more information, and we will bring you that information as it becomes available.

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