The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to accept former Executive Director Jimmy Junkin’s resignation.

Commissioners voted to enter a closed session Wednesday morning shortly after its special called meeting began. They discussed Junkin’s resignation for roughly 30 minutes before exiting the session and voting unanimously to accept it.

“On Friday, May 3, 2019, Jimmy Junkin verbally expressed his desire to resign from the JWSC for personal reasons,” The statement read. “... The (commission) voted to accept his resignation as executive director and engage him as a consultant to assist in the leadership transition.”

It further stated that “The (commission) acknowledges and appreciates the work Mr. Junkin accomplished during his tenure and wishes him well in his future endeavors.”

The vote also authorized commission Chairman Ben Turnipseed to sign a resignation and consultation agreement with Junkin.

Junkin will receive a little less than $40,000 to work as a consultant and a severance of the amount he would have earned by Dec. 31. The base salary for the executive director position was $135,000 when he was hired in 2016.

“I’ll be doing transitional stuff for them. If they have questions about things I’ve been working on, I’ll pinch hit or give them the information they need just during the period of transition,” Junkin said Wednesday.

Turnipseed declined to comment on the agreement but thanked Junkin for his work as the director.

“We appreciate his work,” Turnipseed said.

The commission also voted to appoint Deputy Director Andrew Burroughs to serve as interim executive director.

“We’re just going to keep trying to serve the customers as best we can while they search for a director in the interim,” Burroughs said.

Commissioner Robert Duncan declined to comment on Junkin’s resignation. Commissioners Cornell Harvey and Steven Copeland could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

Commissioner Donald Elliot gave his comments on Junkin’s resignation in writing after the meeting.

“The following comments are my own personal opinion,” Elliot wrote. “I regretfully voted to accept the resignation of Jimmy Junkin from his position as BGJWSC executive director.

“First: (Junkin’s) resignation was not due to any ‘for cause’ reasons stated in his contract as was the case for the firing of the previous director.”

Elliot went on to write that his resignation was the best decision for Junkin personally and that he did not leave to pursue another job. Junkin confirmed the statement later, saying he will likely seek another job, but that it was not the reason he left.

Further, Elliot praised Junkin in his comments, writing that he “fostered great community relations,” “improved the coordination of effort between county and city governments and the JWSC,” “improved customer service,” worked to restore and repair water and sewer infrastructure and update equipment and “provided an environment of transparency.”

Elliot had some concerns with transparency on the commission, which he stated in the written comments.

“In my opinion, this commission and current sitting commissioners have a problem with transparency and operating under Georgia open government laws. In my opinion, that needs to change,” Elliot wrote.

He did not specifically mention meeting broadcasts, but Wednesday’s meeting was not broadcast to the public via the Internet as nearly all utility meetings have been since December of 2017 when the utility began live streaming video of meetings to Facebook.

Administration Director Jay Sellers said the meeting was recorded but that Turnipseed advised him only to broadcast regularly-scheduled commission meetings. The new directive would exclude special-called meetings, such as the one held Tuesday, and the utility’s finance, facilities, communications, human resources, legislative, economic development and emergency preparedness committees.

Each committee is composed of three commissioners, but others can, and sometimes do, attend.

Committees generally delve into items to be discussed at full commission meetings. At a meeting earlier this year, commissioners came to the conclusion that deeper discussions at the committee level tend to lead to a more streamlined regular commission meeting.

Junkin did not attend the meeting but agreed to talk over the phone afterward. He stopped by the utility’s office later in the day to sign the resignation and consultation agreement.

The resignation wasn’t a snap decision.

“All I can say is it’s for personal reasons at this time. I’ve got personal issues I’ve got to take care of,” Junkin said. “I would say it’s something that’s been on my mind.”

He had faith the JWSC’s staff could steer the ship in the interim.

“I’m sure Andrew will do a great job, I’m not in the least worried about his taking charge. Once again, we have an outstanding staff and team at the JWSC. They’ll do fine. They’ll manage in a major way,” Junkin said. “... I also wanted to give a shout-out, I received great support from the community, and I want to thank everyone in the community for their support during my time here. I hope they’ll provide the same level of support for my staff after my departure.”

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