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Kelly Kautz Blames Council for City Manager Ordeal

The Snellville mayor offers her own statement on not executing Butch Sanders' contract.

Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz
Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz
This article originally posted at 4:25 p.m. 

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."

Snellville Tod January 04, 2014 at 04:29 PM
I guarantee that issues with the Mayor have nothing to do with her sex or age.
John Eberhart January 04, 2014 at 04:34 PM
I am tired of Ms. Kautz and her leadership or lack there of. If anyone needs replacement it's her. If the members of council say the sky is blue she says it's yellow. They can't accomplish anything because of her.
Matt Czarick January 04, 2014 at 08:11 PM
Mayor Kautz, the problem is not your age or your sex. The problem is with your decision making! You try to bully your through things to get your way. You try to play the "victim" card, yet you consistently create victims with your ill fated snap decisions like this one. Stop worrying about yourself so much, and start worrying about this city! As soon as you do that, you will find life much more enjoyable, as will I.
Franny Glass January 05, 2014 at 06:54 AM
While I don't know the history of what's been happening between the city council and mayor, I agree in transparent government. Based on her statement it appears to me that the mayor is following the charter and the council is pissed off because she's thwarting their efforts to throw more cash to the city manager and push through back room deals. Good on ya Mayor Kautz!
Matt Czarick January 05, 2014 at 07:56 AM
Franny, you may want to read the charter. She cannot remove the city manager. She can't really do much of anything without approval of the council and that is what she has a problem with. Do you realize that even with the recent raise, the current city managers salary is still less than the previous city managers salary. The city manager is really more like a CEO of the city and is responsible for day to day activities including public safety. It's the most important job in our city government and critical that we have the best person for this job. If the mayor want to explain to the residents why Mr. Sanders is not fit for the job, we would like to hear it. Don't be fooled, this is purely a power play by the mayor. It's not about the best interest of the city!
Matt Czarick January 05, 2014 at 08:08 AM
Franny, here is an excerpt from the charter: (a) The city manager shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor and city council and may be suspended or removed by a vote of four members of the city council.
Kenneth Stepp January 05, 2014 at 08:09 AM
Franny This is the same thing she did to the city attorney. The rest of the council is actually following the charter. She sued them all and the judge was very clear. She does not have the authority. She didn't then, and certainly doesn't now. The council actually altered the charter the last time she sued everyone. Now it is even more clear. Yet she continues with her childish antics, It appears she has violated her path of office this time. She needs to be removed. The city has paid a high enough price for falling for the deceitfulness she used when campaigning for her current position.
Pat Binger January 05, 2014 at 02:06 PM
I thought it was George Bush's fault. I blame global warming.
shelley mitchell January 05, 2014 at 07:20 PM
And yet, again, no one is mentioning the unbelievable raise. I'm sorry folks this small town, good ole boy politics is old.
Matt Czarick January 05, 2014 at 11:03 PM
Shelley, were you aware that Suwanee's city manager makes over $125k a year and that is a smaller city?. It is my understanding that even with the raise this still puts our current city managers salary BELOW the previous city manager.
Michelle McGill Couch January 06, 2014 at 09:16 AM
May I present the "Kitchen Cabinet"
Snellville Tod January 06, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Ms.Mitchell in my experience the Mayor and Council amend the Snellville budget every January to reflect the real world results at the half way point of the budget. In June Snellville adopted a budget with line item 100-540-1320-511100 City Manager salary as $110,000. The impact of an increase in salary to $125,000 requires a line item adjustment of $7500. Since the City HR manager was released from employment earlier this budget year at a total expense of $87598 per year, I think there will not be a problem finding $7500 to make the adjustment.
Michelle McGill Couch January 06, 2014 at 02:42 PM
So what I am understanding Tod, is that the city has $87K+ to work with regarding salary adjustments/cost of living increases as long as they do not replace the H/R position. Did another staff member inherit the duties of that position?
Snellville Tod January 06, 2014 at 05:25 PM
Michelle,The HR position has not been vacant the entire six months of the current budgetary year. With the HR position vacant there is a savings of $7300 a month! Our HR person was very experienced and near the top of the pay scale. The total cost to the city, per employee, was very high and I understand the City Manager has been looking for ways to handle the City's HR requirements in a more cost effective manner. I'm not sure if parts of HR will be outsourced or everything handled in house. Either way, I'm sure it can be handled for less than $875 per employee per year!
j m davis January 06, 2014 at 09:14 PM
WOW, this bickering seems to continue no matter who is Mayor. Obviously, Snellvillians voted for Kautz and the same good ole boy councilmen. Snellville who do you want as your Mayor??????
Michelle McGill Couch January 07, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Tod, are you talking about Sherry? Thanks for clarifying.

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