Avondale interim city manager says he’ll keep spending conservatively

Ken Turner gives a brief speech after being introduced as Avondale Estates’ interim city manager on Feb. 14.
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Ken Turner gives a brief speech after being introduced as Avondale Estates’ interim city manager on Feb. 14.

Avondale Estates’ interim City Manager Ken Turner takes over during a contentious interval in city history, but says he plans to continue spending conservatively.

“Being conservative doesn’t mean you don’t want growth,” Turner said during a recent interview with the AJC. “If you’re going to grow you have to manage growth so you’ll be a vibrant city and attract good businesses.”

Turner replaces his longtime colleague and friend Clai Brown, whose separation became official Feb. 14. Brown became city manager in Feb. 2008, and hired Turner as financial director two months later.

Though Brown has said very little since initially announcing his resignation on Dec. 6, it’s alleged that part of the reason is because the commission wanted to spend more than he and Turner are comfortable with. Turner, however, believes he can work with the current commissioners, of whom none have any previous Avondale government experience.

“I feel like there’s a spirit of cooperation,” he said. “They have said to me, all of them, if I see something that needs to be discussed, than we’ll discuss it.”

Turner will get paid a base salary of $12,141.67 monthly until the permanent manager’s hired. Turner’s contract “encourages” him to apply for the permanent position, but he hasn’t yet decided if he will.

Turner, 68, grew up in Chattanooga, graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1971, and spent many years as a financial administrator for Chattanooga’s public health department.

He moved to Cartersville 15 years ago, along with a family that now includes his wife, four children and four grandchildren. He worked as financial director for the city of Kennesaw before coming to Avondale Estates.

He also serves on the finance committee of his church, Sam Jones United Methodist, and is chairman of the board of Cartersville’s Battered Women’s Shelter.

Turner left Feb. 20 for a long-planned two-week tour of Israel. Regarding his scheduled visits to Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem and Masada, Turner said, “I’ve wanted to do this since I was 14.”