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Attorney General's Office Responds to Snellville Mayor on City Manager Issue

Mayor Kelly Kautz asked last week for an advisory opinion on whether the city council's approval of the city manager's contract was legal or not.

Georgia's attorney general's office has responded to Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz' request on the city manager's employment. 

Kautz was seeking an advisory opinion from Attorney General Sam Olens on whether the Snellville City Council's approval of the city manager's contract in December conflicted with the city charter and contract law. 

On behalf of Olens, Deputy Attorney General Dennis R. Dunn wrote Kautz a letter saying that the AG cannot provide an opinion on the matter. 

He further explained in the Jan. 7th letter: 

"In Georgia, the Attorney General provides legal advice and representation only to our clients within state government. We cannot provide legal services to local political subdivisions with which we have no attorney-client relationship and where the issues involved relate exclusively to the internal operations and management of such an independent political subdivision. Instead, such services are more appropriately provided by the local government's own attorney or counsel. Additionally, the specific facts and circumstances regarding questions are better known or available to local counsel in addressing such questions. Should litigation develop regarding the City's actions in relation to your question, the City would be represented by its own counsel and not by this office."

The city manager's issue roots back to a situation that occurred at the Dec. 9th city council meeting. City Manager Butch Sanders' 16-month term with the city ended Dec. 31, 2013, so a renewal contract was on the agenda. The original agenda item, sponsored by Kautz, had proposed that Sanders' contract be extended only through Jan. 26, during his evaluation. 

Kautz decided to remove her sponsorship for the nomination and tried to remove the item altogether. But Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts brought forward a three-year contract for Sanders that he and City Attorney Tony Powell had drafted the week before. The council approved the contract 5-1, with Kautz voting against it.

On Friday (Jan. 3), the same day she wrote to Olens, Kautz sent an email to Sanders saying that he should "cease" being the city manager since she didn't nominate him and since his old contract ended. The next day, City Attorney Tony Powell explained that Sanders was still employed with the city since, per the city charter, the city manager can only be suspended or removed if four members of the mayor and council voted on for it. 

Even after Powell's response, by Monday (Jan. 6) Kautz still didn't recognize Sanders as the city manager. She reiterated in another letter to Sanders that he should stop working until the attorney general can offer his input, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. She also said that she had not authorized payment for Sanders for the pay period. 

Kautz told Snellville Patch she will have a statement later Wednesday (Jan. 8). 

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Michelle McGill Couch January 09, 2014 at 09:22 AM
I sincerely hope that the mayor puts this one to bed, signs the check and the forward motion can continue.
J. Davenport January 09, 2014 at 12:26 PM
Michelle if the past actions of Kautz are any indication, then I think that we all know that the odds of her putting this to bed and let the forward motion continue are slim to none.
J. Davenport January 09, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Another point that I would like to bring up is, in one of the post I had read, she had stated something to the effect that there are citizens of Snellville that think that she should continue to pursue legal action in this matter. Yet I have not seen a single comment or post from anyone that thinks that she should again waste more of the cities monies on legal action that she will not win. I am sure that these "citizens" are primarily members of her "kitchen cabinet" and the people that want to control the City of Snellville for their own benefit rather than the way that our City Council is looking out for the best interest of the citizens of Snellville.
Arnold Darsey January 10, 2014 at 03:33 PM
I think I will sit a few rows back at the meeting Monday night.
Michelle McGill Couch January 10, 2014 at 06:14 PM
And the saga continues.... I feel (as others I'm sure) that the city is being torn apart in any way that the mayor can find. I'm beyond belief at this point.

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