After 2 years, new Savannah city manager named

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Joseph “Jay” Melder (courtesy city of Savannah)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For the first time since 2019, Savannah has named a permanent city manager.

Joseph “Jay” Melder was voted to the role Thursday evening by the Savannah City Council.

The decision was unanimous — an outcome Mayor Van Johnson had been hoping for.

“It’s important for us to be able to support a singular candidate,” he said last month after the three finalists were announced.

The search has spanned more than two years and utilized over $60,000 in taxpayer dollars.

Last year, the council couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on who to hire for the permanent position. Michael Brown, who spent 15 years as city manager from 1995 to 2010, took over temporarily.

According to the city, Brown will step down from the role next Friday, handing the interim baton to Assistant City Manager Heath Lloyd, who was among the three finalists for the permanent role.

Lloyd will serve as interim city manager until Friday, Sept. 10, when Melder is expected to take over.

“I am eager to join the ranks of Savannah city employees who are already working tirelessly to achieve these goals,” Melder stated. “I can’t wait to become a Savannahian myself, and to meet more of our residents, get to know our neighborhoods and engage and partner with the many committed stakeholders who all want Savannah to be a great place to live, learn, work, prosper and play.”

Serving as the city’s chief executive officer, Melder will be tasked with developing the city’s $425 million budget and advise council members on policy issues, among other key duties.

He’ll come to the Hostess City from the nation’s capital, where he currently serves as the assistant city administrator.

“Jay Melder has the knowledge and skills we need to take the big, bold actions to make Savannah an even better place,” Johnson said Thursday.

The mayor also expressed his gratitude to Brown for coming out of retirement “when we needed him the most.”

“He is the consummate public servant, and he will always be a part of Team Savannah,” Johnson added.

According to the city, council members are expected to consider Melder’s employment contract during their first meeting in August.

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