Bowling Green's longtime City Manager Chuck Coates announced Thursday he will resign, effective April 30th.
In a prepared statement, a tearful Coates said: "I've been asked by the Bowling Green city board of commissioners to resign, and have tendered my resignation, effective April 30th. The stated reason was the apparent lack of oversight and control of the revenue collection system in the Finance Department."
Mayor Elaine Walker says the recent arrest of CFO Davis Cooper for allegedly embezzling at least $2.3 million in city funds isn't the only reason the Board asked Coates to step down.
"To say that it's just this one may be a little bit inaccurate, and clearly this has been devastating," Walker said.
"He's done some great things. He brought Bowling Green to a place that it might not otherwise be. At the same time, here have been some failures in management style. Davis Cooper is only one," City Commissioner Brian "Slim" Nash said.
Nash and fellow commissioner Mark Alcott went to Coates and asked him to resign, then relayed their conversation to the rest of the Commission. Nash says there were no objections.
"I always thought doing the right thing would be the easy thing to do, and this case it isn't. I believe what we've done is the right thing. but it's not an easy process. And it's probably not going to get any easier for a while," Nash said.
Coates read his statement in front of a standing-room-only crowd of city staff and supporters gathered in the City Commission Chambers.
"I am proud of the diligent and hard working employees who perform the city's work and have appreciated their assistance in making BG a better place to work and live during my 28 years here," Coates said.
In an effort to move the city forward, Nash and Walker say they will meet with each department to allow angry or disappointed employees to vent their frustrations. Several city staff were moved to tears during Coates' press conference, and the outgoing city manager received a standing ovation as he walked out.
Former Mayor Sandy Jones and former City Commissioner Joe Denning attended the event in support of Coates. Denning, who left office in December, said had he been in office, he would not have asked Coates to resign.
"No. What happened here could have happened anywhere in the United States. I have all the respect in the world for Chuck Coates. Chuck is a professional. This city couldn't have asked for anyone to be the CEO of a city anywhere better than Chuck Coates," Denning said.
Mayor Walker says the city will name an interim city manager to take over on May 1st, but the commission may take as long as 6 months to search for and name a successor.