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Former Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss inducted into Municipal Government Hall of Fame

Crime and public safety Decatur

Former Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss inducted into Municipal Government Hall of Fame

Peggy Merriss
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Earlier today, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) inducted former Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame, according to a GMA press release.

The Hall of Fame honors municipal officials who exemplify the best in public service, and who, throughout their careers, have made extraordinary contributions to their communities and Georgia’s cities.

Merriss, who spent 25 years as the city of Decatur’s city manager, retired at the end of 2018.

She began her city government career in Decatur’s employment services office in 1983, and, after serving in a few different positions, she was appointed city manager in 1993.

As the city manager, Merriss coordinated the work of the city’s various departments and carried out policies. She was also responsible for preparing the budget, directing day-to-day operations, hiring and firing personnel and serving as the City Commission’s chief policy advisor.

Under her leadership, the city renovated or rebuilt all of its facilities and city parks, developed the downtown Decatur area and implemented a new bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly transportation system, among other things.

As a leader, Merriss’ management style was “open, collegial and confident,” according to Hugh Saxon, deputy city manager. Saxon has known Merriss for as long as she’s been in Decatur.

“I remember the day she walked in, and she just was very smart, particular and confident,” he said. “She made [hiring her] a very easy decision.”

When controversy surfaced over complaints of racial profiling, lack of affordable housing and decreasing diversity in the city, Merriss implemented a year-long community visioning process to create an action plan and an advisory board to oversee the plan’s implementation.

Additionally, Merriss supported the implementation of a vision-based budgeting process tied directly to the implementation of the community’s strategic plan, according to GMA. Through this process the city is achieving an implementation rate of 96 percent of the items identified in the city’s 2010 strategic plan with one year to go, GMA said.

“[Merriss] has provided counsel and guidance to many city managers throughout the state and has been dedicated to attracting young people to the field of city management,” GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson said.

Last August, Merriss was also nominated for the League of Women in Government (LWG)‘s inaugural Leadership Trailblazer Award. 

Throughout her time as city manager, Merriss saw the city change in a nationally recognized hub. She’s remained proud of the place it’s become.

“I believe Decatur is just an absolutely wonderful place,” Merriss told Decaturish last year. “I’ve been here through a lot of its growth, and I just can never grow tired of it.”

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