Beaufort City Council and city manager Scott Dadson have agreed to part ways.
After a 45-minute closed door meeting Tuesday night, council unanimously voted to end Dadson's open-ended contract on Jan. 31.
"Our mutual concerns were for the well-being of this (city)," Dadson said. "... and how ... we leave things on good terms."
Mayor Billy Keyserling said the decision came out of conversations about where the city is headed, and what Dadson wants to focus on. Keyserling said the city is moving from a planning to an implementation phase in project development.
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"He saw, I saw, we both saw, we needed to have a conversation," Keyserling said.
Dadson has been city manager since 2006. He replaced John McDonough, who left to become city manager of Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb.
Dadson came to Beaufort from Buena Vista, Va., where he also was city manager.
He was paid $138,000 this year.
Keyserling said Dadson walked through a "political beehive," in Beaufort, followed by a recession and a laundry list of projects and policies pushed by city council.
Council amended Dadson's contract to not only include an end date, but to also allow city officials to begin the search for a new manager. It also allows Dadson to look for a new job. He said he did not have immediate goals beyond providing for his family.
Keyserling said City Council may seek an interim projects manager to smooth the transition between city managers. Ongoing projects include the Boundary Street renovation project, among others.
NAACP and voting districts
Earlier Tuesday, a conversation about changing the city's form of government to elect council members from districts rather than at-large dominated a two-hour work session.
A move to districting, which would have to be decided on by voters in a referendum, is being pushed to the front burner because of an NAACP initiative to create a district with a black majority.
City Council members had discussed putting districting on the ballot by way of a council vote, but there is not enough time to do so before the Friday deadline for submissions to the Beaufort County Election Commission, city attorney Bill Harvey said.
Conversations ranged from how the city and NAACP got to this point to various districting alternatives to legal concerns and voter representation.
"If there was someone on this board who lives in my neighborhood, they would understand what's going on in my neighborhood a little more than you would," resident Wilma Holman said.
Voters will likely not see the question on the Nov. 4 election ballot, unless the Burton-Dale-Beaufort NAACP is able to put together a petition and get 15 percent of registered city voters to sign before the noon Friday deadline.
"We'd have to get out and beat the streets," branch president Darryl Murphy said. "We can do that, but we have government in place and government is supposed to address policies and laws and this is one of those things for government to address -- the voting districts."
He instead wants to work with City Council and have it to put the issue to a vote in a special election.
Murphy said he would prefer a set up with four or six council members elected from districts and the mayor elected at large. He did not support a possibility voiced by Harvey for one district with a black majority and the rest of council elected at large.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.