Peachtree City resident and former city councilman Steve Rapson was unanimously selected as the new county manager for Fayette County Wednesday night.
Rapson most recently served as Union City manager for the past three and a half years, and was previously the assistant city manager in Sandy Springs for more than four years. Rapson also worked for five years as budget director for Fulton County, also serving as the chairman’s chief of staff.
Rapson also served with new commission chairman Steve Brown in the Peachtree City Council when Brown was mayor from 2002-2005. Rapson is replacing former County Manager Jack Krakeel, who retired in the summer but came back to work temporarily until his successor could be named.
Rapson is highly regarded for his budget acumen, which will come in handy as the county continues to face declining budget revenues due to shrinking property values. Last year the county implemented an early retirement program to shrink its workforce on top of a general hiring freeze for all positions except for public safety.
“We’ve lived in the county here for over 20 years, so for me this is like coming home,” Rapson said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Rapson said he wants to work on improving the county’s relationships with its cities.
While there is much work ahead on a myriad of matters, Rapson said he is confident he has some good department heads to help him carry the load.
He will be joined by a familiar face in Brown, who was unanimously elected the commission chairman for the calendar year. Brown immediately pledged that the commission would begin taking citizen comment on individual agenda items immediately prior to the commission voting on each matter.
Previously citizen comments have been restricted to an early segment of the commission meetings, although citizens were allowed to speak on matters that were published as part of the agenda. Citizens also have been allowed to address the commission during public hearings on a variety of matters from rezoning proposals to ordinance changes.
As chairman, Brown is in charge of running the commission meetings, but he also serves as the county’s representative to the Atlanta Regional Commission, an agency that controls state and federal transportation funding in the metro Atlanta area. Brown has been a frequent critic of the ARC and most recently has said the agency should provide more transportation funding to Fayette County.
Brown was also a vocal opponent of the proposed regional transportation sales tax that ARC had hoped to provide a significant revenue to accomplish large-scale transportation improvements. The rub for many was that the project list for the sales tax was balanced with nearly half its spending on transit projects and the remaining half on road projects.
Prior to the meeting, the county’s three new commissioners were sworn in: Charles Oddo, Randy Ognio and David Barlow. Each affirmed their oath of office as administered by Fayette County Probate Judge Ann Jackson.
The new commission elected rookie commissioner Charles Oddo as its vice chairman after fellow rookie David Barlow declined the nomination.
During the meeting, the commission also selected Dennis Davenport to serve as county attorney. Oddo abstained from both the discussion and the vote because he said he had a business relationship with Davenport. Oddo went so far as to leave the room so he would not participate in the discussion.
Davenport’s firm, McNally, Fox and Grant, previously represented the county until several years ago when the commission elected to hire an in-house attorney for much of its legal work, resulting in a significant cost savings.
Davenport said he was looking forward to helping the commission.