Council questions Administrator and Attorney


Mayor and City Council of Swainsboro convened at 6 p.m. on June 10, 2024 at the Swainsboro Fire Department Headquarters. The invocation was brought by Rev. Brad McKenzie of Jesus Saves Church followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. A proclamation recognizing the late former Councilperson John E. Parker was read as the first order of the meeting. Parker served from 2006 through 2023. Following this, the minutes of the regular meeting of May 6, 2024 were presented and approved. A representative of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals addressed council and presented the Clearwater Solutions and the City water department with the GAWP Gold Award for exceptional service during the past year. Next on council’s agenda was the unusual action of council’s reconsidering twelve motions voted on and passed during the month of May. The measure was characterized as a “revote” by Mayor Bennett but the reason for the action was not clearly explained. In later discussions by the council, it was apparent that the replication of the earlier vote was due to recent developments involving Councilperson Quantavious Foster. The replication vote was taken and motions approved. Council then moved to the next agenda item which dealt with the contract of City Administrator Herman Middlebrooks. Changes in the form of additions to the contract involved issues related to IRS considerations, pension plan vestment of Middlebrooks after one year’s employment, and refinement of the pension ordinance dealing with retirement. Councilperson Collins and Davis questioned some points of the contract including the vesting of the Administrator after only one year as opposed to 10-year employment required for pension vesting of other city hall positions. The motion was tabled by a 4-1 vote with Councilpersons Collins, Davis, Sconyers and Stafford in favor and Quarterman opposed. Under new business, another award was presented by Clearwater Solutions in the form of a one-thousand-dollar scholarship. Quinton Williams, a graduating Senior at Swainsboro High School was honored and will be attending Augusta College with the help of that competitive award. Council next, discussed the reapplication of some funds from the American Recue Plan grant program. The Covid relief program allocation expires at the end of this year. The hiring of a part-time counter clerk closed out the new business agenda with a 5-0 approval of hiring Zakia Archie. Next, council approved replacement of a wastewater pump at Lift Station 5 with a 5-0 vote. Also approved was the game room license for Atul Y Pandya DBA Jack’s Food Mart at 227 West Main Street with a unanimous vote. In final action council agreed to hire Officer Gregory Dylan Lowery as a full-time police officer. As a motion to adjourn was made, disagreement arose among councilmembers as to the classification of the meeting as a “special called” or a regular meeting. Apparently, confusion resulted when certain members expressed the desire to continue meeting to discuss items not on the agenda. A motion to alter the agenda was approved to allow for discussions concerning the suspension of Councilperson Quantavious Foster. Councilperson Collins asked for a statement on the situation. City Attorney Levis reported that he is waiting on a response from the Governor’s office as to the indicated appropriate action. For the next 18 minutes, Levis advised council on the different scenarios that could be encountered in the situation. Councilperson Collins questioned Levis as to why council members were not advised in a more timely fashion and indicated her dissatisfaction that council was not better informed and advised by the City Attorney. Councilperson Davis echoed Collin’s concern and called for a better spirit of transparency among offices of city hall and the city council. Following this discussion, council was adjourned.