Cayce fires city manager, who was also fired from his last job

The City of Cayce has fired city manager Brian Watkins “without cause” and replaced him with Tracy Hegler, the Richland County director of community planning and development, according to a news release from the city.

Watkins has been on the job less than three months. The council voted to fire him on Oct. 17.

Before coming to Cayce in July, Watkins was city manager in Milton, Florida. He was terminated there, too, in April, according to news reports. Before his firing, the Milton City Council reportedly discussed ousting Watkins at least two other times in a span of 12 months, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

He started as public works director in Milton in 2006 and held that position for two years. In 2008, Watkins became city manager and remained in that job for nearly a decade.

Officials in Milton who advocated for Watkins’ termination said he was not communicative enough when the city council was being investigated for a possible violation of the Florida Sunshine Law, which guarantees the public’s access to information and government records, the Pensacola newspaper reported.

Watkins will leave his post by Nov. 19, when Hegler is to start the job. As director of community planning and development, Hegler works in county zoning, planning, permitting, zoning and other managerial roles related to development. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Florida State University, where she earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning.

“We could not be more excited to welcome a dynamic manager whose community outlook is a great fit for our city,” Cayce Mayor Elise Partin said, according to a city news release.

Cayce Mayor Elise Partin discusses the city's plans to revitalize its former downtown on State Street.

Cueto can be reached at 803-771-8621, @isabellacueto