Augusta commissioners were presented a man seeking to get closer to his Florida roots and a longtime local government employee in two finalists for environmental services director who interviewed Wednesday.
Brooks Stayer has served as director of the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority in Merced, Calif., since 2013, after spending seven months as Tulare County, Calif., Resource Management Agency solid waste director, but said he and his wife wanted to return to the South, closer to their Lakeland, Fla., hometown.
“California is not my style,” said Stayer, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Warner University in Lake Wales, Fla., and a master’s of public administration from Troy University.
Stayer had prior served for 17 years in Polk County, Fla., where Lakeland is the largest city, including the final seven years as Polk County solid waste director. His Augusta job application notes he was asked to resign.
According to various published reports, Stayer resigned after an extensive investigation by the Lakeland Ledger into thousands of Polk County residents being overbilled for garbage service and lax oversight of provisions in waste hauler contracts.
Stayer told commissioners Wednesday he had “an affinity for getting along with people and fixing problems,” and was known to be “pretty thorough when it comes to looking where the money is spent.”
The other finalist, Interim Director Lori Videtto, has served since 2006 under former director Mark Johnson. Johnson resigned in June amid an investigation into his directing landfill employees to use government equipment at a private job site in Lincoln County.
The director hire comes as Augusta implements a Keep Augusta Beautiful program and moves street sweeping and mosquito control to another department, changes approved by the commission Tuesday that Videtto helped implement.
She cited the work she’s done over the last 60 days during the interview, including determining the landfill is in compliance with government regulations. The department just filled a maintenance manager position that was long vacant and has gotten its equipment fleet in better condition and equipped with monitoring devices, she said.
Videtto has been with city government since 2002, where she began as an assistant environmental engineer. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Fairfield University in Connecticut and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Carolina.
The commission recently approved having a comprehensive operations and financial audit done at the landfill and the city will soon undertake a rewrite of the city waste management agreement.
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.