Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz has released a statement regarding the removal of City Manager Butch Sanders.
Kautz wrote Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens a letter asking him to look into whether the city council's approval of Sanders' contract in December conflicted with the city charter and contract law. Sanders' old contract expired Dec. 31, and his new contract has not been executed, according to Kautz.
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Sanders and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts also have responded to the ordeal. The following is Kautz's statement:
"On Friday, I sent a letter to Attorney General Sam Olens seeking an advisory opinion regarding the procedure for nominating the city manager and applicable employment contract law. The actions of the Snellville City Council caused the need for such an opinion.
"The previous city manager was hired for a 16 month term of employment which ended on December 31, 2013. I have not fired the city manager, but his contract has expired.
"Snellville’s City Charter clearly requires the position of city manager to be nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Last month I offered to nominate the city manager to a thirty day contract while the Council conducted performance evaluations and negotiated salary requirements. The Council has to date failed to submit any performance evaluations. Instead, Council voted to offer a long-term contract to the city manager without the nomination of the Mayor, without conducting performance evaluations, without the offer of employment appearing on a public meeting agenda for public input and with an over $25,000 raise of taxpayer money that is not included in the City’s approved budget. This is a 20% raise for a senior level position when the rest of City staff has not received a performance raise in over 4 years.
"The actions of the Snellville City Council are contradictory to the Charter, to the written legal opinions of the city attorney, to principles of contract law and to open and transparent government. As the first female mayor and youngest member of the Mayor and Council, members of Council often attempt to disregard my concerns. In light of the sexism and ageism found at the local level, I found it necessary to seek an opinion from the Attorney General.
"I struggled with whether to pursue this matter, because I am mindful that such an action will add to the ongoing controversies between myself and members of Council, but as Mayor I must protect the laws and procedures of our City and the money of our hardworking taxpayers. Members of Council must realize that just because they are elected officials, they cannot do whatever they want in disregard of our City’s established laws and procedures. As long as I am Mayor, I will work to protect our Charter, to promote open and transparent government and to end the cronyism that is rampant. Based on these principles I could not turn a blind eye to the actions of the Council.
"This is not a personnel issue. This is an issue about the foundation of our City and precedent for future elected officials. When the Georgia General Assembly enacted the Charter for the City of Snellville they envisioned a separation of powers just as we have at the federal and state level. The Mayor is the executive branch and the Council is the legislative branch. The General Assembly acknowledged the need to have a separation of these branches to maintain a system of checks and balances and to assure open and transparent government. Closed door politics like here, is what happens when the separation of powers is not respected.
"I will continue in my efforts to work with members of Council and pray that this matter will have a swift resolution. Until this matter is resolved I expect our Assistant City Manager to oversee the operation of the City with no problems."