Pembroke has its first city administrator since 2011 after City Council members named Dustin Peebles to the post.
The 5-0 vote was followed by applause Monday evening as Peebles took his seat near city attorney Richard Braun and city clerk Betty Hill. Mayor Mary Warnell followed her introduction of Peebles by asking his siblings, parents and grandparents to stand.
They also got a round of applause.
The job, which pays $55,000 annually, is a first for Peebles in city government. He most recently worked as a regional planner for the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission and has experience as finance director for the city of Cochran and as an accountant.
Crunching numbers, however, didn’t appeal to Peebles, who has a degree in business administration and a Master of Public Administration from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
“(Being an accountant) just wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Peebles said. “I didn’t really feel like I was making the difference I wanted to make. I really wanted to make more of a difference. And as soon as I started the master’s program, we were told 99 percent of us will work at the state and local level, and very few will work at the federal level … and that was me. I knew then this is what I wanted to do, knew it would help communities the most.”
While announcing Peebles’ hiring, Warnell pointed to his small-town background — he’s originally from Kite, which is near Swainsboro — and his goal of working in a small town.
Peebles said he applied for the Pembroke job because it’s a small town, albeit one that eventually will face growth pressure as development from Interstate 16 begins to move closer.
“There are a lot of things going on, with the Port of Savannah being deepened, we’ve got the interstate, which is a huge distribution venue, and all that growth is coming this way,” he said. “It’s eventually going to get here. It may not be next year or in the next year or two, but it is going to get here. There’s potential to grow here, but I want to help make sure the city has the foundation it needs to keep progressing the right way — in a way the community sees fit and a way that’s contingent with the culture of this community.”
Peebles’ duties will include helping both the mayor and city clerk work on the annual budget as well as supervising city departments and approximately 30 employees and keeping tabs on the city’s day-to-day operations, Warnell said.
He’ll also be expected to play a lead role in the city’s planned public-safety complex, its push to add more affordable housing and its aim to create a redevelopment plan for what Pembroke hopes to be in the future.
“Dustin brings a strong background in financial planning and budgeting and has project-planning experience, which is vital to our city’s planning and development of its public-safety complex,” Warnell said. “His experience with the regional commission has provided him with the opportunity to work with a variety of state agencies as well as cities throughout Middle Georgia. We are anxious to get Dustin on board while we are in the preliminary stages of planning for the public-safety complex and as we begin our urban redevelopment plan for the city.”
Peebles was one of two finalists for the job.
Former Grantville City Manager Johnny Williams was the other.