Proposed contract for the Port Wentworth police chief stirs the pot

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Port Wentworth City Council is preparing for a big vote Thursday on whether or not Police Chief Matt Libby should be contracted instead of just appointed.

City officials have already drafted the contract. It says if the chief is fired in his first two years of the contract, the city would have to pay his full contract amount which is almost half a million dollars.

Some council members say this sweet deal puts a sour taste in their mouth.

What this is about is job security. Security these council members don't understand why Chief Libby needs.

"Our question is who came up with this contract, and why now," asked Port Wentworth Councilman Paul Fox.

These city council members opened their agenda to a topic never discussed. A contract for Chief Libby. It would secure full pay if he's fired within two years, totaling $450,000. They say that's equal to the entire fire department payroll.

"Why would we give him a contract to do what he's doing now? And he's done for years," Fox said.

Three of the six council members said they never saw this coming. So, they picked up the phone and called their colleagues.

On the phone: "Question? How much do you know about this contract," asked Councilman Thomas Barbee.

For Judson Bowers. No comment.

From the mayor. No answer.

Councilman Bill Herrin says it seems like common sense.

"If he's fired. It has to be for a reason," Herrin said.

The contract clearly states termination of the contract can be with or without reason.

"Garden City is doing this. Tybee has done it. And I think Pooler is getting ready to do this," said Herrin.

The mayors of Tybee and Pooler both say contracting their police chief is not on their radar.

Gary Norton has lived in Port Wentworth for 62 years.

"I've been out here a long time. I've been on the city council and I've never seen anything like this," Norton said.

All three council members and Norton say the strangest part is that Matt Libby is an outstanding chief. Why a contract?

"He runs a tight ship. He keeps this town safe. Our citizens safe," Norton said.

But not their bank accounts, as $450,000 is a steep demand.

"This particular contract is not being a good steward over taxpayers' money," Barbee said.

Council will vote on this contract in their meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.

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