JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — After five years on the job, Warren Hutmacher is out as Johns Creek city manager.
In an unannounced move June 17, the City Council unanimously approved a separation agreement with Hutmacher, who was not present at the meeting.
Police Chief Ed Densmore was immediately appointed acting city manager.
Council members cut short their work session, which convenes two hours before the regular meeting, and disappeared into executive session for more than an hour. When they returned, Councilwoman Stephanie Endres added the separation agreement and appointment of an acting city manager to the night’s agenda.
According to the separation agreement, Hutmacher’s official termination date will be July 11, and he will be given six months’ severance, $110,800.
The agreement also contained a confidentiality agreement binding Hutmacher and the city not to disclose the events leading up to the separation.
Though they played the move close to the chest, some council members have not shied away from criticizing Hutmacher in the past.
At a March 25 work session, Endres and Councilman John Bradberry questioned whether the manager’s policy for city staff interacting with council members was compliant with the city charter. Mayor Mike Bodker and Councilman Steve Broadbent defended Hutmacher at the time.
Hutmacher became Johns Creek’s city manager in 2014, after previously serving in the same capacity at Dunwoody, Norcross and Avondale Estates.
Hutmacher replaced John Kachmar, who left amid a storm of controversy. Kachmar was given a settlement of six months’ salary, $138,000, to voluntarily resign after threatening a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Kachmar alleged he was wrongfully fired as retribution for his testimony against Mayor Mike Bodker in 2013. The City Council, though, said the dismissal was justified after Kachmar was alleged to have verbally attacked two citizens, one of whom filed an assault charge.
Densmore has served as police chief since the department was created in 2008. He had served as interim police chief at Alpharetta in 2006. He will continue his duties as chief while serving as acting city manager.
“I’m disappointed we’re having this discussion, but at the same time I have complete faith and confidence in Chief Densmore,” Bodker said.
After public comment, the council returned to executive session for nearly another hour to discuss one personnel and two land matters before continuing its posted agenda.
In other business at the June 17 meeting, the council agreed to allow a developer to withdraw a proposal to build a 32,050-square-foot shopping center at the corner of McGinnis Ferry Road and Johns Creek Parkway.
The developer, Johns Creek Village Management, stated there was a need to address soil issues at the site and redesign elevation plans before proceeding. The vote was 6-0, with Bodker absent for the vote.
The council also voted 6-0 to spend $30,000 to gather traffic data that will be used to optimize signal timing on weekends and another $50,000 to install wireless communication devices at seven signals.
The funding is for an ongoing project by the Public Works Department to reduce travel times by better synchronizing traffic signals. The department reported the findings from the first phase of the project earlier this month and found travel times mostly improved in areas where optimization had been implemented.