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Merritt looking to help people
Deputy manager started Monday
tim Merrit 1
Tim Merritt, Forsyth’s new deputy county manager, has years of government experience in Gainesville. - photo by Jim Dean
Tim Merritt is a self-described people person, something that keeps him happy in public service positions.

“I like to work with people. I like to help people,” he said.

And he is excited to serve the “warm and friendly” folks of Forsyth County.

Merritt joined Forsyth County on Monday as the deputy county manager, a position left vacant since September 2008 when County Manager Doug Derrer was promoted to interim county manager after the firing of Rhonda Poston O’Connor, former manager.

Derrer, who selected Merritt for the position, had been doing the duties of both jobs up until Merritt’s start on Monday.

“Developing staff and team building is extremely important to the success of any organization,” Derrer said. “I plan to surround myself with people and talent that will result in a successful government. Recruiting Tim is a step in that direction.”

Merritt’s arrival follows the resignation of Bill Thomas, the county’s chief financial officer, whose last day in office was Friday.

As a result, Merritt and Derrer will be responsible for many duties in the upcoming 2011 budget cycle, set to begin soon.

Merritt had a copy of the budget procedures on his desk Tuesday morning.

“While I’m not familiar with the Forsyth budget ... I’ve of course worked with 22 different government budgets over the years,” he said. “The process is very similar.”

Like most governments, Forsyth County is expecting that money will be tight for the upcoming budget.

Merritt is taking a more optimistic viewpoint.

“Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe we look for new ways to do the job, to provide the service,” he said. “We find innovative ways. We find cost-efficient ways.”

While for now Merritt is still getting incorporated into the county’s team, he said his future goal is simply to provide public services to the best of his ability.

Though he graduated from North Georgia College & State University with a major in biology and minor in chemistry, Merritt gradually crossed over into government work.

Starting as a lab technician at a chicken plant, Merritt worked his way up until the plant tried to move him out of his beloved native north Georgia.

He then took a position as a chemist with the city of Gainesville, but soon worked through the government ranks to a job more involved with people. He worked nearly 22 years with the city, the last seven as assistant city manager, before retiring in 2007 to look for “new challenges.”
The job opportunity in Forsyth County gave him the chance to continue what he missed.

“I like to be involved in projects and processes and things that help people,” he said.

Derrer said he has placed Merritt into roles where he can enjoy all these functions.

“It’s important to evaluate the unique and extraordinary talents of an individual and match them to the needs of an organization,” Derrer said.

Merritt will be responsible for overseeing several departments, including engineering, parks and recreation, planning and development and water and sewer, among others.

With 15 years working with Gainesville’s water and sewer, he brings a strong background to that department, said Tim Perkins, Forsyth County water and sewer director.

The two had worked together on a regional watershed assessment management project about six years ago, which won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“He’s a great guy, good to work with and has extensive knowledge in water and sewer, which is good for us,” Perkins said.

Merritt had much praise for the county’s “professional staff” and looked forward to finding his niche among them.

“I’m excited and blessed to be the newest member of the Forsyth County government team,” he said.