The Coliseum Authority fired General Manager Reggie Williams Tuesday after a contentious meeting where Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center staff were accused of poor management and shoddy service at a recent United Methodist Convention. The board also voted to refund church officials their conference bill.
Complaints of poor service, "filthy" facilities, flooded bathrooms and rude Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center employees surfaced in open session, after authority members met for more than 1 1/2 hours in a closed-door legal session. During the closed meeting authority members said they heard from two Augusta commissioners and two local church officials to receive a laundry list of problems that occurred at the four-day annual conference, held June 10-14.
"This board has a responsibility to run this center the way it ought to be run," said Authority Chairman Bill Maddox. "There was a complete breakdown in the management of this facility."
In addition to firing Mr. Williams by a 6-4 vote, the authority voted unanimously to refund the North Georgia Methodist Conference for its bill accrued during the conference, an amount that has been estimated to exceed $59,000. Authority members decided that money will be paid back over the next two years.
Although Methodist officials confirmed Monday that their conference is scheduled to return to Augusta next year, Mr. Maddox said Tuesday the only reason they agreed to return is because he agreed in a private meeting held last week to refund their money.
Mr. Williams said Methodist officials never confronted him with their complaints.
"If it had been of that magnitude, you'd think someone would have come to me and told me," he said.
Mr. Williams said authority members used complaints from the Methodist conference as an excuse to "do something they wanted to do in the past," and fire him.
"This whole thing is so shocking," he said.
Several board members said they opposed firing Mr. Williams, especially because he was excluded from the closed-door session during which Methodists complained about civic center services.
"I disagree with the way this was done," said Joe Scott, vice chairman of the authority. "It's the wrong thing to do, and whoever concocted it should not have."
Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.