Friday, January 22, 1999
Peachtree City's assistant city manager, Joe Morton, has learned to be ruthless with numbers and gentle with people.
He's glad to see a conclusion to his latest project, the choosing of a "preferred provider" for Peachtree City natural gas customers. Negotiating through information from the 19 certified suppliers, plus evaluating those proposals that were returned from a number of the companies, has kept Morton focused on the project almost full-time for more than a month.
City Council was expected to ratify an agreement with Peachtree Natural Gas and its marketing partner, Coweta-Fayette EMC, as the city's preferred provider at its meeting last night after press time.
Residents are not required to choose the city's supplier, Morton said, but "I think we have been able to negotiate an outstanding agreement that will give residents the rate options that make the most sense for them." (See related story).
Morton's position includes responsibility for finances in the city things like budgeting, purchasing, accounting and data processing ("I guess we should call it information systems now"), Morton says. There are "special projects and other fun things" that come along almost daily, he adds.
He disagrees with the idea that he gets work that City Manager Jim Basinger wants to pass along.
"He works harder than most city managers," Morton says of Basinger. "He certainly delegates, but he's not afraid to work alongside any of the staff. I respect that." The two are working together now to prepare for the city's annual retreat March 19-20, Morton adds.
A challenge Morton is looking forward to in the coming year or so is "getting all of our facilities connected with a fiber optics wide-area network," he says. He is also part of a countywide effort to connect all the governmental services with the same kind of network, "in line with the House Bill 489 mandate" to combine some services between cities and counties. His experience as Fayetteville city manager for four years gives him an added dimension of knowledge in local intergovernmental projects.
A native and lifelong resident of Georgia, Morton grew up in Cairo. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Florida State University and worked as a police officer in Athens, Ga., while getting a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia.
The 41-year-old will mark his first anniversary with Peachtree City in March by working again on the city's certification in financial accounting, a status given by the national Governmental Finance Association to Peachtree City for 10 years in a row.
"My first day here last year was March 9," Morton says. "The certification report was an 'oh, by the way, this is due March 31.' That was a real introduction to learning about the amount of work that gets done around here it's impressive."
Morton and his wife Tami, a teacher at Spring Hill Elementary, have one daughter, Mimi, age 6. Morton says he likes to do woodworking, to read and play golf, and is "a struggling guitar enthusiast."
He likes playing with computers, too, and enjoys seeing "the new stuff Mimi has to teach me."