During a called meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, the Adel City Council voted 3-2 to name Mark Barber, who currently serves as Valdosta City Manager, as the sole finalist for the position of Adel City Manager.
Voting in favor were Council Members Walter Cowart, Jody Greene, and Terry McClain. Voting in opposition were Council Members Greg Paige and Celestine Hayes. The motion passed by a 3-2 vote.
The City Council named Barber as the sole finalist out of five candidates who were scheduled for interviews by the Council on Dec. 20, 2022. One of the five withdrew their name for consideration approximately 36 hours prior to the interviews being conducted. The candidates were selected following a search and candidate review process conducted by The Mercer Group, a consulting company based in Athens, Ga. The Mercer Group was recommended by both the GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) and ACCG (Association of County Commissioners of Georgia). There was a fee of $17,500.
The Mayor and Council are scheduled to have a called meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, to consider officially appointing Barber as the new Adel City Manager.
Barber told the Adel News that he is looking forward to beginning his service to the citizens of Adel and working with the strong leadership that is in place.
In Valdosta, “the talent and skills of nearly 600 city employees are under the immediate direction of the department heads appointed by and responsible to the City Manager,” according to the City of Valdosta website.
Barber said a question has been why would he want to serve in Adel, which is so much smaller than Valdosta. His reply has been, “Great things come in small packages.” He added, “The numbers will be smaller, but the opportunities are the same, so are the challenges.”
Asked about the utility billing issue that has plagued the City of Adel, Barber said it now “looks like it’s under control.” However, he pledged to do “everything I can, to speed the process up” of getting billing running smoothly.
Barber also emphasized the importance of economic development. Without that focus, “a community will grow stagnant,” he said. He noted that Adel has done well in attracting an interesting mix of new businesses and industries with its prime location on I-75 and other advantages.
Barber’s retirement letter to the City of Valdosta is effective Jan. 31, 2023.
According to the City of Valdosta website, Barber was appointed the Interim City Manager on Dec. 8, 2017; then officially appointed to the City Manager position on March 22, 2018.
Prior to those appointments, Barber served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Valdosta from 2015 to 2017, where he provided city-wide administrative support to the City Manager and was responsible for most of the city’s departments and divisions that reported directly to him.
Barber has a long history with the City of Valdosta, having served the organization since 1989 when he was hired as the city’s Principal Accountant. With the exception of a four-year employment with the City of Thomasville, Georgia from 1996-2000, Barber has been a vital asset to the Valdosta organization serving as the city’s Finance Director from 2000 to 2007 and the Deputy City Manager for Administration from 2007 to 2015.
Barber’s 34 years of experience in municipal government – the majority of them with the City of Valdosta – include city-wide administrative support, department operations, financial services, risk management and human resource management.
While Valdosta is Georgia’s 14th largest of 537 municipalities, Barber has worked with city leaders to keep Valdosta’s millage and utility rates among the lowest of peer cities in the state. His years of finance experience has provided guidance to ensure the city continues to operate in a fiscally responsible manner.
Under his leadership, the City of Valdosta has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award each year. These awards, presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, are the highest forms of recognition in government budgeting.
Barber’s commitment to enhancing the pro-business environment in Valdosta through his role on the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT) has helped to identify obstacles in the business development process and facilitate mutually beneficial resolutions for business and local government. As a result, the City of Valdosta has devoted resources to continuously improve and strengthen business development in the “City Without Limits.”
Barber is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association and the Georgia Government Finance Officers Association, where he has chaired numerous committees and is a Past President. He is a member of the Georgia City-County Manager’s Association and is involved with the Georgia Municipal Association, and he is frequently requested by both organizations to teach government leaders around the state on various municipal issues and concerns.
Barber is a graduate of Lowndes High School and Valdosta State University, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting.
Barber and his wife, Judy, have two children, Victoria and Landon (wife, Brittany), and two grandchildren, Bentlie, 10, and Baylie Grace, 2.
If appointed as Adel city manager on Jan. 10, Barber will succeed John Flythe, who provided the Council with notice of his retirement as of Jan. 1, 2023.
Flythe began work as an Adel city employee in January 1973 and became City Clerk later that year. He served as City Clerk until June 1978 when he was initially appointed as City Manager.
On June 1, 1998, Flythe resigned as City Manager to pursue another career option. He served as Economic Development Director for the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Economic Development Commission before returning as Adel City Manager on Oct. 1, 2011. Flythe succeeded Jerry Permenter, who retired after 13 1/2 years as Adel City Manager.