Villa Rica hires its first city engineer

Bobby Elliott

Jessica Gallagher/Times-Georgian

Villa Rica has hired Bowdon's city manager to be its first on-staff engineer.

Bobby Elliott accepted the position on Monday, and will begin his new duties of supervising Villa Rica's various construction and other projects on Oct. 30.

His departure from Bowdon leaves that city without a manager for the first time in three years.

"It's been a great learning experience for me," Elliott said of his time in Bowdon. "I wouldn't change it for anything."

Elliott, who holds a master's degree in engineering, said he decided to leave his current post for the newly created position in Villa Rica because it offered an opportunity to return to engineering full time.

"When you train for as long as I've trained, and you go to school forever and you get your registration, and you've really dialed into that and you don't get to do it every day, you really start missing it. I'm to the age now where I want to try to finish my last chapter doing what I love to do and what I've been trained to do."

Elliott's application for the city engineer's job was not the first time he has sought a position in Villa Rica. Last June, it was announced that he was one of four finalists for the position of city manager.

The council voted to create the city engineer post in September at the recommendation of the man who got the city manager's post, Tom Barber.

Although the city engineer post is new, the position he or she will fill is not. Through a somewhat complex "job swap," the engineer will hold the already budgeted position of community development manager.

That post will be retitled director of community development, and some of its duties will be shifted to a new planning and zoning coordinator, who will report to the engineer/director.

Barber had advocated for the hiring of a city engineer to supervise much of the work in the city, a job that had previously been farmed out to an outside contractor.

Elliott, who will be paid a salary of $88,000, agreed that an in-house engineer would help save the city's expenses on consulting costs.

"Not that I have anything against consulting firms because they kind of help make the world turn," he said. "But when you don't have a staff engineer on board, that stream of money just keeps growing."

He added that it was important for the city to have someone on staff to not only review projects, but to ensure they are being done correctly.

"The most critical part of that is to inspect it while it's being constructed, to be sure that it's being built according to your standards," he said. "Without that, things happen rapidly -- and they're almost always bad."

Elliott had been Bowdon's city manager since Dec. 1, 2014. He served as public works director for Powder Springs between 1976 and 2003, and served in the same post for Cartersville between 2007 and 2013. Before taking the city manager's post in Bowdon, he had served as maintenance construction engineer for Douglasville.

He holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, and a master's of science in engineering degree from the University of Alabama.

Elliott said that during his time in Bowdon, the city had made a number of improvements, despite limited resources.

"We we don't have a ton of money to go around, but I've got a great staff here," he said, including some who have been with the city more than 30 years. "They're just great folks, and it's been a joy to work with them. It's so easy to work with staff when you don't have to preach to them; you just turn them loose and let them do what they do."

Elliott said he and his wife intend to remain living in Bowdon and commute to his new job in Villa Rica.

"It's an opportunity that knocked, and at this particular stage in my career, it's something that I just can't pass up."

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