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Petersburg hires the Robert Bobb Group to help turnaround city services

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PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg city council held a special closed session Tuesday where they voted to hire The Robert Bobb Group to help turnaround city services, according to Councilman Brian A. Moore.

The Robert Bobb Group is a national consulting firm specializing in public and private sector consulting and advisory services.

Robert Bobb is the President and CEO of the firm and has an administrative career that has spanned more than 30 years.

He previously served as Richmond’s City Manager from 1986 until 1997. He also served as city manager for the cities of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Santa Ana, California; Richmond, Oakland and Washington, D.C.

Robert Bobb

Robert Bobb

“We are bringing in a team of people who are going to do what it takes to get the city back where it needs to be,” Moore said. “Whatever action needs to be taken – we’re determined that needs to be done.”

The vote to approve the Bobb Group was 6-1 in favor of hiring them.

“He has a stellar record, 30 plus years with turnaround, and that’s what the company does,” said Councilman Brian Moore.

However, some Petersburg residents like Ronald Thompson are hesitant.

“I’m not saying that the firm they’re hiring is good or bad, I’m just saying right now, the people that are making the choices up to now have made bad choices,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he also wonders how the city is going to pay for this.

“The same people making the same wrong decisions spending our money,” said Thompson.

Moore said specific costs will be finalized at Tuesday’s council meeting, and said they will have a source of funds.

Moore told CBS 6 reporter Chelsea Rarrick that it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring the firm in, as multiple people will be coming in and bringing in experience.

This comes after Petersburg city council voted to hire an executive search firm to find a new city manager, despite public outcry not to spend additional funds while in a financial crisis.

Moore said current interim city manager Dironna Belton's future could rely on the direction and advice The Robert Bobb Group gives Petersburg City Council.

Dironna Belton

Dironna Belton

At the September city council meeting some residents spoke out in favor of Belton and even started a petition to keep her as a permanent city manager.

Belton has said she would like to keep the job on a permanent basis; Petersburg city council did not take action to hire her.

Belton was initially hired as the city’s interim city manager back in March, after the firing of former city manager William Johnson.