PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -Monday was the first day on the job for Petersburg’s brand new City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides, who was officially sworn in.There was a spirit of optimism in Petersburg during the installation as residents are putting their trust in their newest leader in hopes she can provide a new vision.”You’ve got to show people something different, and that’s my goal,” said Aretha Ferrell-Benavides.As she prepares to get to work, NBC 12 has learned the new city manager will be paid $165,000 a year, which is $5,000 less than her ousted predecessor, William Johnson.
As usual for this job, she will be provided a city vehicle as well as severance pay. If Ferrell-Benavides is fired without cause, she could be entitled to roughly $82,500.
“A lot of people might say, ‘Why did she come here? Why Petersburg?’ ” NBC 12 asked.
“Petersburg needed me, but I needed Petersburg. I needed that community I could grow in, embrace, and make a difference. Petersburg has welcomed me like no other community. I went to church yesterday. The entire church prayed for me. They prayed for my well-being,” she responded.
Although the city’s turnaround group has made recommendations for future projects, it doesn’t mean Ferrell-Benavides will automatically implement them.
“There may be other answers and other alternatives. What we’re going to do together, I’m going to work with them over the next few months to get an understanding of how they feel and why they’ve come to the conclusions but also to look at it myself and come to some conclusions,” she said.
Now the ball is in her court.
“It’s time to move forward. We’ve had a past. Let’s move beyond it and let’s focus on the future,” Ferrell-Benavides added.
She will still have the city’s consultants by her side. The Robert Bobb Group remains on board through September.