Lilburn’s Jenny Payne-Simpkins recently was sworn in as one of the first female city managers in Gwinnett County, officially taking over the position on May 27 upon the retirement of Bill Johnsa.
Since December 2019, Mrs. Simpkins had served as assistant city manager until Johnsa decided to retire after serving as city manager for 14 years.
“Jennifer Payne-Simpkins was our assistant city manager for two years before taking on the city manager responsibility,” said Mayor Tim Dunn. “We already knew what a good fit she was for the Lilburn family. We were so fortunate to take advantage of her deep knowledge of municipalities and partnerships with other governmental entities.”
Dunn added that he anticipated continued progress with Mrs. Simpkins as city manager.
Her education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Stony Brook University at Stony Brook, N.Y. and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, N.C. She was the first NCAA Division 1, All-American in any sport at SBU for cross country, as she finished in the top 24 of individuals at the National Division 1 Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana in 2003. Last year, she was inducted into the SBU Sports Hall of Fame.
Jenny has worked for both nonprofit and local government organizations for over 12 years, including five years with the City of Savannah as the director of the Citizen Liaison Office and coordinator of management services. She was employed as City of Fort Oglethorpe city manager and worked for Gwinnett County government as director of the Fiscal and Solid Waste Management Division.
The Lilburn City Council last week passed its fiscal year 2022-2023 budget for a total amount of $19,033,207 to include funds for the departments of public works, police, finance, information technology, human resources, city clerk, municipal court, and others. Mrs. Simpkins will be working with these department heads to ensure a smooth transition from Mr. Johnsa.
The city manager’s office works with state, federal and county levels of government, having good relationships with agencies like the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), she added.
An important item coming up this year on the November ballot is the referendum for the six-year SPLOST with Gwinnett County, Mrs. Simpkins said.
“It’s about $20.8 million and to be used for capital projects (not for staff) if passed,” she said. ”The vast majority of the funding is to be put into transportation projects, such as a proposal for a new local roadway connection from Lawrenceville Highway to Old Town Lilburn. Right now, the only way to drive into Old Town Lilburn is through Main Street.”
Other upcoming projects on the city’s agenda are the construction of the raised pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of First Avenue and Main Street and the continued replacement of the original wooden bridges on the Camp Creek Greenway Trail with PermaTrak, a long-lasting concrete composite.
One project that opened this summer next to Lilburn City Park is the popular splash pad. “It’s going great,” she said. “People are in love with the splash pad.”
Lilburn also plans to expand 22 acres next to the park. “This will be used for another public space,” she said, adding, “We don’t have any agenda, except what’s best for the community.”
As for staff hiring, she has interviewed three or four candidates for the position of assistant city manager to succeed her.
“In every position we hire, it’s important that we find the right fit,” she said. “It could be a second or third career for someone. It’s a great work environment we have here.”
Jenny resides in the Lilburn area with her husband, Scott. She enjoys running, traveling, riding her motorcycle, and spending time with her family and friends.