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City manager signals to council his intent to resign

Patrick Roberts has notified the mayor and members of City Council of his intent to resign after nearly five years as Suffolk city manager.

Mayor Linda Johnson said Roberts had spoken to her and the other council members Sept. 25 of his intent to resign, though as of late afternoon Sept. 25, no formal resignation had been offered.

Suffolk City Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Sept. 28 at City Hall “for the purpose of the discussion of the employment status of the city manager,” according to a news release.

Roberts, who has served in numerous roles with the city since 2007, had become the interim city manager in May 2015 before receiving the unanimous vote of City Council to become city manager Sept. 16, 2015, taking the oath for the position Oct. 26, 2015.

In July 2019, Roberts received a two-year contract extension through June 30, 2021, along with a 5 percent raise from City Council, putting his yearly salary at $197,108, and received a deferred compensation contribution of $16,000, paid annually.

After Roberts’ contract was renewed last year, Johnson said that Roberts was a sought-after commodity in the Hampton Roads region.

“I don’t think people realize until you really do see in the region, the value of Pat Roberts,” Johnson said at the time.

Roberts said then that if people had a good impression of him and his work, it’s the result of the work the city does together.

“I’ve had some really good days here, and I have days where I’m challenged and wish I could do things over again,” Roberts said at the time, “but the good thing is that as long as you’re truthful with people, and you demonstrate that you’re trying to do a good job, you  tend to get another day to keep after it, and people appreciate that you’re trying.”

Last year, Roberts did not say whether he had received overtures from other localities, only saying then that “the most significant overture was the fact that council here expressed an interest in me continuing my employment here. That meant a great deal to me.”

There have been other changes in recent months. In June, former police chief Thomas Bennett announced his retirement, which took effect Aug. 1. Initially, Roberts said that deputy chief J.D. “Danny” Buie would become acting chief. However, a day after that announcement, Roberts announced several interim appointments, including Alfred Chandler as interim police chief.

On July 1, Al Moore became the city’s interim deputy city manager, replacing the retiring Scott Mills, who initially hired Roberts in 2007 to be the assistant director of planning and community development.

Roberts served as deputy city manager from June 2008 until becoming interim city manager in May 2015. Roberts previously worked for the city as an assistant director in the Department of Planning and Community Development from 2007 to 2008.

Prior to his tenure in Suffolk, Roberts worked for the city of Richmond as the senior assistant to the chief administrative officer.

There, he also worked from May 2000 to September 2007 in the departments of public works, community development, city manager’s office, city auditor’s office and managed its Community Assisted Public Safety program. He served on the Richmond Planning Commission, the Port of Richmond Commission and was secretary to the Construction and Development Review Commission.

Roberts is a Portsmouth native who graduated from Churchland High School in 1989 and went to work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in January 1990, and graduated from Virginia Military Institute before receiving a master’s of public administrative administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.