The motion comes after a week and a half of city controversy. On Jan. 3, Mayor Kelly Kautz asked Butch Sanders to cease working as the city manager because she did not recognize his newly approved contract as valid, and on Jan. 10, she removed Melisa Arnold as the city clerk and gave her the position of purchasing agent, as Kautz authorized Phyllis Richardson to take Arnold's place.
Monday's resolution, which passed 5-1 with Kautz voting against it, states that Arnold and Sanders will keep their original positions with the city since the mayor's actions go against the city charter.
"It basically abolishes the office of mayor," she said after reading aloud the entire resolution. "It takes away the authority of the mayor to be the chief executive officer of the city. It takes away the authority of the mayor to sign documents, to write checks, and [it] even attempts to take away the salary, or it says the council plans on taking away the salary of the mayor."
But City Attorney Tony Powell, who drafted the resolution, disagreed.
"This script does not have the authority to abolish the decision of mayor," he said. "It does not have authority to change the power or provisions listed in the charter itself. Those are locked in by legislative mandates, so that statement they're abolishing the position of mayor is essentially not true."
Powell added that no one intends on removing the mayor's salary of $400 a month. He also said that the sections of the charter that the mayor references to are overruled by the Home Rule Amendments that state the city clerk and city manager can be removed only if the council votes on it.
Kautz claimed that removing Arnold as city clerk was not a surprise (even though council said it was), and she had informed Sanders of it in December and again Friday (Jan. 10) when Richardson took the oath. The mayor apologized she was not the first to tell Arnold of her reassignment and it was instead Sanders.
Later that day when Kautz went to the second floor to sign some documents, she said, she walked in on Sanders, Arnold and other councilmembers in a meeting in the city manager's office.
"This was an unadvertised meeting and a meeting that the mayor was not notified of. When I attempted to take a picture, they shut the door on my face," she said.
Following the meeting, she was informed that her access card to the second floor of city hall where staff offices are located was turned off and she had to ask for permission to enter the second floor of city hall.
"There's a history here, and every time council tries to do something wrong, they want to blame the big, bad mayor, because I want to stand up against what the council is trying to do, against these bullies," she said, with cheers and applause following. "Just because there's a majority of council, doesn't mean that elected officials don't have to follow the law."
Kautz went on to say that the council refused to consider Richardson's qualifications for the position. But Powell and Witts retaliated, saying that the resolution was not about Richardson.
"It's unfortunate that Mayor Kautz had decided to make this about Ms. Richardson," said Powell. "It's about the mayor's authority to remove appointed officials of this city."
Richardson and her attorney, Douglas Daum, attended the meeting. In the public comment portion of the meeting, Daum said that she still expects to work for the city and be paid her promised salary. He also disagreed with Powell's points and said the resolution passed is in "severe jeopardy" of not being valid.
Here's what else happened during the meeting:
- More than a dozen citizens from the overcrowded, divided audience in the council chambers spoke at the end of the meeting about the division between the council and mayor.
- Susan Chappelear was recognized as the volunteer of the year, but her proclamation was not ready, so the official ceremony will be done at the next meeting.
- The council unanimously approved that Tom Witts be re-elected to hold the seat as mayor pro tem for the city.
- The council also voted in favor of of resurfacing 12 streets around the city for $499,302. Many of them are longer streets and are included in the Nob Hill area.
- Similar to last month, the mayor's nomination of former Councilman Mike Sabbagh to the Snellville Public Arts Commission failed because no one on the council voted in favor of the motion.
- The following agenda items were postponed: the improvements to the town green; the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce being the official chamber of the city; three appointments to the Urban Redevelopment Agency; and the contract for design services of Briscoe Park Phase II B and Briscoe Park Master Plan update.