Poll: Should Snellville's Mayor Lose Powers?
In a 4-2 vote, Snellville City Council voted this week to move forward with a plan to reduce the mayor's powers to appoint a city attorney.
For weeks now, several members of city council have been particularly peeved with Mayor Kelly Kautz.
Last night, the council voted to do something about that. No, they aren't discrediting the election, but they do want to relieve Kautz's powers to appoint a city attorney.
It was a 4-2 vote to amend the charter, with Dave Emanuel, Diane Krause, Tom Witts and Bobby Howard voting for the resolution. Kautz and Councilman Mike Sabbagh were in opposition.
The specific section of the charter that the city council wants to revise is 3.12. It reads:
"The mayor shall appoint a city attorney, together with such assistant city attorneys as may be authorized, and shall provide for the payment of such attorney or attorneys for services rendered to the city. The city attorney shall be responsible for providing the representation and defense of the city in all litigation in which the city is a party; may be the prosecuting officer in the municipal court; shall attend the meetings of the city council as directed; shall advise the city council, mayor, and other officers and employees of the city concerning legal aspects of the city's affairs; and shall perform such other duties as may be required of him or her by virtue of his or her position as city attorney."
It's important to note that significant changes of the charter cannot be done without legislative approval. In this case, council is seeking action by the General Assembly.
It's the end of the 2011-2012 session, which means it could be next year before anyone hears about this again.
Sometimes, changes of the charter can be done through what is called "home rule," in which council makes changes without legislators. Sometimes referendums are sought in these cases, and citizens get the chance to vote.
In 2005, the city made changes to the mayor's powers through "home rule," but those changes were "defective" said Tony Powell, previous permanent counsel for Snellville.
In 2010, the city had to reverse itself, but revoking the power of the mayor was never something that could be done by the council alone anyhow, Powell said.
If changed, the amended powers of the mayor would apply not only to Kautz, but any other mayor in the future. (That is until and unless council wants to change this again and is successful.)
In the meantime, what do you think Snellville? Take our poll.