Patrick Stephens, director of Augusta Public Transit since 2015, announced he is stepping down after receiving a job offer elsewhere.
“I’ve had another opportunity come open that has a significant positive impact on the future of my family and me,” Stephens said Tuesday.
Stephens, who became at least the fifth city executive to step down during 2017, came out of retirement from the Central Ohio Transit Authority to join Augusta Public Transit in May 2015.
Generally favored by the 10-member Augusta Commission, Stephens said support for his efforts was “unbelievable” and he hoped he’s “planted seeds” for the continued success of transit in Augusta.
“No matter how you look at it, transit is an important part of your community infrastructure and a great economic generator,” he said. “I hope that folks would agree I’ve left transit in a better place than I began.”
Commissioner Ben Hasan said while another government agency “recognized his talents,” Stephens “left a good blueprint in place” for Augusta transit.
As director, Stephens oversaw the city’s contract with provider McDonald Transit, the unveiling of a new bus paint scheme, an ongoing operations study and the start of construction of a new $18 million bus maintenance and operations facility in a blighted area off Gordon Highway.
Stephens’ department adds to a growing list of upper-level vacancies in city government. During 2017 the director of Augusta Environmental Services, Mark Johnson, resigned amid a scandal and has been replaced. The city’s Engineering and Human Resources directors also resigned during the year and the human resources position remains open.
The unexpected death of Deputy Administrator Chester Brazzell last week left the second of two deputy administrator positions open in the office of Administrator Janice Allen Jackson, after former deputy administrator Ted Rhinehart resigned in April.
“Of course, these executive-level vacancies place a strain on our operations,” Jackson said in a statement.
A pool of applicants obtained to fill Rhinehart’s position may now be used to fill Brazzell’s as well, while the city will advertise in transit trade publications to fill Stephens’ position, Jackson said.