SF officials at odds again

SF officials at odds again

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
With just two months left before they leave office, South Fulton’s mayor and a city commissioner were at odds again Thursday night over city operations.
The latest source of contention came when city commissioner Jeff Vowell presented a draft of a proposal for a resolution establishing procedures for the operation of city government in the event of a vacancy in the city manager’s position.
Debra Craig currently serves as South Fulton’s city manager and Vowell is a former city manager. Mrs. Craig has worked as South Fulton’s city manager since May 2011 after being hired to succeed Vowell, who resigned in December 2010 to accept a job in banking.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker had served as interim city manager during the months between the time Vowell left and the time Mrs. Craig began work.
During a commission meeting last month, Mrs. Craig had asked that the city’s mayor be held accountable for what she alleged was a “hostile work environment.” Her complaint came on the heels of Crocker expressing concerns to the commission about the city manager keeping regular business hours.
Mrs. Craig has remained on the job despite any friction, and there has been no additional discussion of her allegations since she presented them in the form of a letter to the commission last month.
Then, the agenda for Thursday night’s regular commission meeting included Vowell’s presen-tation of the resolution establishing the procedures for the commission’s appointing an interim in the event the city manager’s position becomes vacant.
His proposal outlines criteria for eligibility to serve as interim city manager — specifically that no sitting member of the city commission, including the mayor, will serve dual roles of city manager and mayor or commissioner.
Crocker claimed there is a problem with the resolution going against what is established by city charter and he said precedent has typically been to appoint someone from the commission when a vacancy occurs, with the exception of a period when a former city manager served as interim several years ago.
Crocker questioned why someone who is leaving the city commission in two months would request the resolution and Vowell replied that the citizens do not elect board members to serve as city managers.
Crocker is not seeking re-election as mayor in the upcoming city election in November, nor is Vowell seeking election to a full term on the commission. Vowell is currently serving out the remainder of a former commissioner’s unexpired term after being appointed in May 2011.
The mayor alleged the proposed resolution would restrict the commission’s powers and Vowell said it came from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and is “common sense.” Vowell further alleged that “some of the worst decisions” for the city were made when someone from the commission served as interim city manager.
“This resolution is designed to help protect the integrity of the city charter,” Vowell said. “It’s about protecting us in going forward.”
Crocker contended the proposed resolution gives the city recorder more authority than city charter provides by allowing the city recorder to assume the day-to-day administrative duties of the city manager, with assistance from the city attorney, in the event no one is willing or available to serve as an interim city manager.
Vowell said his proposal is a resolution rather than an ordinance and the next commission can repeal the action by similar resolution if they have a vacancy and don’t like the selection procedure.
“This is a no-brainer,” Vowell said.
Crocker again questioned why a commissioner who is leaving office in two months would make the proposal and he said the next full commission to be seated in November needs to make the decision.
Commissioners received copies of the resolution just prior to Thursday night’s 90-minute meeting and commissioner Tony Perry said he would like more time to study the proposal before making any decision. Perry’s position is not due for re-election this year and he will remain on the panel after both Crocker and Vowell are gone.
Perry made a motion to table action on the resolution until the next commission meeting and it was seconded by Crocker. The motion was approved by a 3-1 vote, with commissioner Thomas Pettigrew joining Crocker and Perry in voting to table the matter. Vowell cast the dissenting vote and Vice Mayor Charles Moody was absent.
Editor’s note: A follow-up story covering all other action taken during Thursday night’s meeting of the South Fulton City Commission — including a recycling proposal for the community — will be published in Monday’s edition.
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Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 9.21.12

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