Mayor, Council dispute payment for compensation plan for city employment

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by WHITLEY CLIFTON

Members of Swainsboro City Council and Mayor Greg Bennett met for their regular scheduled meeting on Monday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at Swainsboro City Hall. Mayor Bennett called the meeting to order, and Pastor Shannon Boula of Blundale Baptist Church gave the night’s invocation prior to the pledge of allegiance being recited by all.

Minutes from the February 7, March 7, March 10, and March 17 meetings were presented for review. John E. Parker advised that changes need to be made to the March 17 minutes. He stated that when he asked the city clerk if contact with the GMA or Attorney General’s Office had been made and that she responded with the answer “no”. He further addressed an issue with the minutes not documenting the clerk’s answer to his question and requested that, for the record, the minutes be amended to reflect accordingly. 

A motion to approve minutes from the February 7, March 7, and March 10 meetings and amendments be made to the March 17 minutes as requested by Parker was made by Dr. D.J. Davis and passed unanimously by all council members.

Old Business

  • Council discussed the allocation of ARPA, current SPLOST, and upcoming SPLOST referendum allocations.

New Business

  • Mayor Bennett presented four nominated names of interest as potential candidates to serve on Swainsboro’s DDA committee. Submitted names included: Kristin Hall, Del Brown, Nick Robertson and Sara Young.

Dr. Davis cast first motion for approval of said names and was seconded by Johnny Ray Stafford. All remaining council voted accordingly.

  • Mayor Bennett then presented nominations for Swainsboro Ethics committee. The list of names included: Bill McWhorter, attorney; and Carroll Canady and Ed Daniels. A motion for approval made by Julian Sconyers was paused due to Bobbie Collins citing the city charter. Collins advised that to follow the city’s charter that an ethics committee must be formed by mayor and council. She then asked all council members had they been contacted on the matter and all members confirmed that no such contact had been made on the matter. Collins then suggested that additional time be allotted to council so that further discussion can be held on the matter prior to a committee being selected by the council. This item was tabled with plans to revisit the topic at the next meeting of council.
  • Council entertained discussion on two advertising requests for game room licenses, one submitted by Mehoshi May DBA Clay D’s Place, located at the old Bird’s setting on South Main Street across from KFC; and the other request submitted by Dana Williams DBA Dana’s Monogram and More, located at 216 N. Coleman Street. Both Williams and May were asked if any alcohol license request were currently planned to be pursued at these locations if game room license are eventually approved. Additional information pertaining to Clay D’s Place was also inquired upon by council that included the establishment being a location of a previous shooting and if future preventative measures had been discussed to prevent another shooting if license is approved. After entering discussion, council unanimously approved the advertisement requests for both settings.
  • Council approved a list of vehicles and equipment from the city’s maintenance shop to be auctioned as surplus property.
  • A classification and compensation study proposal for all city employees conducted by Carl Vinson School of Government was presented to council by Mayor Bennett. He advised that, if hired, the company will conduct an in-depth study plan on approximately 90 percent of all city employees to provide an unbiased suggested figure for compensation rates, with council to be surveyed for suggested pay rates as well. The estimated cost totaled to approximately $20,000 for this service and a deadline of July 15 being given as a completion date. Council entertained discussion on how the project would be funded and what funds would be utilized to cover the expense. That question led to talk of amending the agenda so that the project can be conducted. Other conversation led to Mayor Bennett suggesting that his $14,820 salary be utilized for the completion of this project. When asked by John E. Parker how the remaining costs would be paid, the mayor suggested that Parker donate a portion of his salary to close the remaining balance gap. Davis made a motion that the city utilize the mayor’s salary to proceed with this project and was seconded by Stafford. The motion carried on a 4-2 vote.
  • Council approved a project bid for the $1,000,000.00 Airport Apron Rehabilitation project. Having received three bids, the city awarded the project to lowest bidder, Reeves Construction Company.
  • Council discussed a disposal process for limbs and leaves at the inert landfill. Council was advised that EPD will fine the city if proactive measures are not taken to clear approximately seven piles of debris piles with some ranging more than 25 feet tall in size. Additional conversation was entertained on other methods for eliminating the issue, with burning the piles being deemed a no-go and no-win for the city and an allotted $40,000 for grinding expenses included in the public works budget being a partial relief to the situation. Council opted to table this item for another two weeks to decide how to best utilize the allotted $40,000 in funding. The city will either opt to purchase equipment to produce mulch, pay for this service to be conducted or entertain alternative suggested action deemed most beneficial to the city.
  • Collins addressed council with a motion regarding council policies and made three requests to be addressed at the next council meeting: 1. Set agenda item to discuss council maintaining pay; 2. Request for reimbursement of any deductions be made before the next meeting of council; and 3. Consider questioning for reimbursement on insurance premiums. This motioned passed unanimously on a 6-0 vote.
  • Mayor Bennett also addressed council with discussion on conflict-of-interest guidelines regarding the FY2022 CDBG project. The conflict of interest being Erik Quarterman’s residence being the address of the 431 Robin Road Project. Further discussion included a vote being passed for project completion being made years ago and legalities involved with the area being a designated flood zone and private property. City Administrator Melissa Kirby advised that no pictures or documentation have been submitted after a request being made that this information be submitted by Rita Faulkner and Quarterman. It was further stated that no complaints have been received on the matter since work was performed to correct related issues approximately two years ago. This, along with agenda items for a Fair Housing resolution, appointment of an FY2022 CDBG grant administrator and engineering company for the city was all tabled until the next council meeting.

Executive Session

Council then entered executive session. Upon re-entering regular session, the following took place:

Davis motioned to void a cease and desist action regarding a contract entered into by council’s approval in October 2021. This vote unanimously passed with a 6-0 vote.

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