No decision after special meeting held to name new Petersburg City Manager

PETERSBURG, Va. – Petersburg city leaders held a special council meeting Wednesday afternoon where they discussed the appointment of a new City Manager.

After about an hour into a closed session in council chambers, City Council members ended the meeting with no decision.

Multiple sources tell CBS 6 one of the leading candidates for the position is Rochelle Small-Toney, who has a rocky past in city management.

Small-Toney is currently the Deputy City Manager of Fayetteville, North Carolina, a position she's held since 2013. Before that, she was the City Manager in Savannah, Georgia, but resigned in 2012 after a controversial tenure.

Her 19-month tenure as City Manager in Savannah brought rumblings and allegations of financial mismanagement, a $6 million backlog of unpaid bills, travel policy violations, lawsuits, racial bias, complaints, according to published news reports.

Mayor Edna Jackson asked for her resignation after a three-hour closed door meeting, but Small-Toney refused, according to a news report from 2012. That same reporter, Meredith Ley, wrote that City Council members felt she was not qualified for the position.

The mayor who hired Small-Toney stood behind his decision, and several supporters spoke in her defense.

Small-Toney is a Brooklyn, New York native, but was raised and educated in North Carolina, graduating from the University of North Carolina with a bachelors and masters degree.

She is also no stranger to Virginia, as she served as an assistant to the City Manager and Assistant City Manager in Danville, Virginia. She later moved on to the same position in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Rochelle Small-Toney

Rochelle Small-Toney

If Small-Toney gets the position, she will inherit's a city in the midst of a financial crisis with a $12 million budget shortfall and finances that are being investigated by federal and state authorities.

During a September 6 city council meeting, city leaders attempted to amend the budget and increase revenue to cover losses.

While public safety services like the city's fire houses survived the cut, city council voted to increase taxes on personal property, lodging, cigarettes, meals, and the solid waste fee.

The biggest cut came to city schools with a $4 million cut in school funding.

A public information officer from Fayetteville tells CBS 6 reporter Wayne Covil, Small-Toney has been instrumental in an attempt to bring a minor league baseball team and a downtown baseball stadium to Fayetteville. In addition, he says she has been recently recognized by the International City County Management Association with a 30 year service award.

Petersburg City Manager William Johnson was dismissed from his duties in March 2016, after a $3 million budget shortfall in 2015 and a water utility issue that plagued residents for months.