Savannah City Council members react to expected departure of city manager

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Word of Savannah city manager’s expected resignation spread Tuesday night. 

Alderman Julian Miller on Wednesday said he has not been told officially that City Manager Rob Hernandez is leaving for a job in Florida. However, Miller has heard of the expected departure and says he has “no reason to doubt it.”

“I think he has done a wonderful job, I hate to see him go and I wish him the best,” said Miller.

Miller says that Hernandez, who has been in Savannah for about two and a half years came to the city at a difficult time, i.e. during Hurricane Matthew.

“Remember, he came in in the middle of a hurricane and it was the first hurricane we had in 27 years,” said Miller. “It did an awful lot of damage because we had a lot of trees that were weak, etc.”

Miller said this happened in the first two months that Hernandez was on the job.  

“He had to figure out how he was going to clean up after the hurricane, how to pay for the hurricane and how to find $18 million in a budget that was stretched way too thin,” said the Alderman.  “And this was Rob Hernandez’s initiation into Savannah.” 

As part of the budget issue, what would become the controversial fire fee was proposed and initially passed by the majority of the city council. But later when many members of the public opposed a fee, the council rescinded the vote.  

By that time, however, some members of the public were blaming Hernandez.  

“The public really got on him (Hernandez) about things he had not done, it was not his idea to bring the fire fee,” Miller said.

He added that council members had indicated to Hernandez that they wanted to consider alternative funding sources. It was after that that Hernandez offered the fire fee which is being used in Florida where the city manager had previously worked. 

“He brought in a consultant to try to figure out how to do it,” said Miller.  “Did we handle it well? No.”

Alderman Van Johnson, who did not vote for the fire fee, said he thought those who had ended up throwing “Hernandez under the bus” when it went sour.

It was just months after the council abandoned the fire fee that word spread that Hernandez had been applying for jobs back in Florida. 

Again, Miller says he has not seen anything official, but his expectation is that something official from Hernandez will be forthcoming.

“He has done a great job trying to put SPLOST together for example and trying to get things done,” said Miller. “He put together a strategic plan, something we have needed for a long time.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell told News 3 Tuesday an official statement should be made by the end of the week.

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