Chatham County Commission approves new manager - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Chatham County Commission approves new manager

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William Lee Smith III William Lee Smith III
Chatham County Commission Chatham County Commission
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Chatham County Commission Chairman voted unanimously Friday morning for the new County Manager nominee.

William Lee Smith III, of Goldsboro, N.C., was nominated after a nine-month search for the manager's seat. County Manager Russ Abolt is retiring after 26 years.

Commission Chairman Al Scott hired the same search committee he used when he was chairman of the ports authority and needed to hire to someone. That someone turned out to be current Executive Director Curtis Foltz.

Smith's exit from Wayne County, N.C., had raised questions, mostly on $500,000 in overpayments to employees a private accounting firm found while Smith worked for Wayne.

According to Wayne County Commission meeting minutes from July, auditors found that 600 employees had been overpaid, with one employee getting $10,000 more than he earned.

One commissioner there had called for Smith's resignation.

"I have lost all trust and confidence in the county manager Lee Smith," Wayne County Commissioner Joe Daughtery says in a video of the commission meeting posted on YouTube.

The Chatham County manager's job pays between $175,000 and $200,000.

Smith began working in government service in 1987 and headed up an economic development nonprofit before serving as county manager in Washington County, N.C., then Wayne County.

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