Savannah City Council may name Cutter permanent city manager - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah City Council may name Cutter permanent city manager

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Stephanie Cutter Stephanie Cutter

Savannah has been without a permanent city manager since last fall. Thursday, it may all change.

A re-appointment of interim city manager Stephanie Cutter is on the agenda, but there are rumblings something more permanent is in the works.

If the votes to support it are there, some inside city hall indicate to WTOC there will be a motion to bypass a city manager search and make Cutter the permanent city manager.

Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson didn't say it would happen, but he didn't say it wouldn't either.

"A search process is always an option," Johnson said," "But if you have what you want, then why search?"

Cutter was named interim city manager immediately when Rochelle Small-Toney was basically forced to resign last fall. Johnson, as well as other council members I spoke with, credit Cutter with rebuilding the city's employee morale and getting city hall back on track after Small-Toney was given the ball, so to speak, as an interim city manager who survived a search process and ultimately, after a year and a half, was forced out of her job after all kinds of issues with council and employees. 

"I'm certainly very proud of the work she (Cutter) has done, how she stepped in the middle of a crisis how she was able to restore confidence in city government," Johnson said. "The faith with our employees and citizens is strong and how she has reached out to business and community leaders to makes sure they have confidence in our services."

Johnson says council has not discussed anything yet, however, all indications are some have their minds made up this is the direction they would like to go in.

We will have to see tomorrow if there are votes to support a move like this. Some council members may want to explore the search process option, however, all indications are Stephanie Cutter's interim days are likely over as of Thursday.

Meanwhile, two years ago, Savannah City Hall got some stern warnings from Georgia's Attorney General for bending, or in his view, violating open meetings laws.

Wednesday, the city is being honored for its transparency. The Sunny Award was given to the city's website,, for making government more open to citizens. It was a criticism not too long ago about the actual government.

"It means we are getting better every single day with the excellent leadership of our mayor and our city manager. Our city is progressing," Johnson said.

The last time there was a city manager search, the city got into huge transparency issues  and open meetings problems when they met with city manager candidates  in groups behind closed doors without public notification. That was just one example, along with short notices on some meetings.

Johnson says the website is a good start and he's confident the city has learned it's lesson on the public meeting front as well.

"This award is proof positive that our city is getting better everyday, that we have leadership in place with our mayor and city manager, who are committed to making sure our city is open and transparent and I think our city employees and citizens are buying into those principles," Johnson said.

The city manager search process, burning the city in mores ways than one, according to Johnson. 

If Cutter is named permanent city manager, the drama involved with the last search process will also be avoided, not to mention the cost savings, according to sources.

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