Last Monday’s Cedartown City Commission meeting had some of the usual business for the board to take up, but it was dominated by the love for a man ending a 40-year career in public service.
Bill Fann, who took on the city’s financial and developmental woes in the shadow of the 2008 recession, will retire at the end of the month, completing a nine-year career with the city of Cedartown, the last eight of which have been as city manager.
The board’s Sept. 14 meeting was his final one as the city’s chief administrator and, with his family in attendance, featured commissioners and residents expressing their appreciation for the job that he has done.
“Nine years ago we snagged a good one,” Commission Chairman Matt Foster said. “In the last seven years, we have seen his ability to balance and prioritize, his integrity and his impeccable character.
“He is a man who understands the long game … and to do it all in local government, amid egos and red tape, is remarkable.”
Fann began his career with Cedartown as public works director in 2011. After eight months of also serving as the assistant city manager, Fann was appointed city manager in September, 2012, following the resignation of the previous city manager.
Fann has been heralded for his handling of the city’s financial situation, working through budget overhauls and department managers to bring the city to the point of not having to borrow money on a regular basis to cover expenses and having a fund balance of nearly $4 million.
Commissioner Dale Tuck noted Fann’s part in bringing the new Floyd Polk Medical Center to the county on Rockmart Highway and converting the old hospital facility on Main Street into the One Door Polk, a social services hub that is home to several agencies that help the people of Polk County.
“It was the first of its kind and is now a model for other cities,” Tuck said as she became emotional. “Not without Bill Fann.”
Fann served as a law enforcement specialist assigned to a presidential support unit for President Richard Nixon out of Homestead Air Force Base in Florida in 1973. He later began his career in municipal government as a police officer in Venice, Florida.
He moved to Alabama in 1984, where he continued his public service career as chief of police, public works director and finally city administrator over a period of nearly 24 years.
In his final manager’s report for the Cedartown City Commission on Monday, Fann expressed how much the city of Cedartown means to him.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to finish my career with the city of Cedartown, Georgia,” Fann said. “When I first became a police officer in my hometown, I thought I had achieved my dream. I had no idea at that point Cedartown, Georgia, even existed. I finally made it home. And home for me, regardless, is now and forever will be Cedartown, Georgia.”
Aside from the financial and administrative accomplishments made by the city in the last decade, Fann made sure to note the work environment that all of the city’s employees created in the time he has been here.
“Through our various struggles, we began to work together,” Fann said. “All these people made us stronger, and we celebrate each other’s accomplishments. We care about each other. We came to know and love other people. We mourned their losses together.
“That’s what makes this city successful where other agencies fail.”
In one of his final acts as city manager, Fann recommended to the commission the appointment of assistant city manager Edward Guzman to the position of city manager effective Oct. 1, which was unanimously approved by the commission.
Guzman, who has been with the city nearly as long as Fann has, graciously accepted the appointment and spoke about the impact Fann has had on his professional career.
“We have a lot of mentors as we grow up. … From the very first day he started he has been there for all of us as a leader and a mentor. Personally, he is up there as one of the greatest mentors I’ve had in my life and showed me how to grow not only as a public servant but as a human being,” Guzman said.
Foster said it was fitting that Guzman be appointed the city’s first Hispanic city manager as National Hispanic Heritage Month begins, and that he had earned the role of city manager through his work ethic and leadership.
“You make your family proud. You make me proud. And we are totally confident in your abilities,” Foster told Guzman.
Guzman, a Cedartown native, started with the city as an office clerk and moved up until becoming assistant city manager in June, 2018.
In other action at the meeting, the board approved the city’s 2020 millage rate of 10.949 mils, a decrease from 2019’s rate of 11.201. While it is lower, the rate is not the full roll back rate it could have approved. A series of public hearings were held concerning the rate and no comments were received.
Also, the board approved an amendment to the city’s livestock ordinance to restrict the owning of chickens within the city’s limits.
The amendment requires that anyone housing chickens apply for a special use permit and have at least one acre of property. They also must not have more than four female chickens for eggs only and a coop or hen house.
The amendment prohibits roosters and the butchering of chickens for meat. Commissioner Sam Branch was the lone vote against the amendment.