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Butch Sanders Asked to Leave Snellville City Manager's Seat

Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz asked Attorney General Sam Olens for advice on whether the city council's approval of Sanders' contract conflicted with the city charter and contract law.

Snellville City Manager Butch Sanders
Snellville City Manager Butch Sanders
This article originally posted at 2:15 p.m. 

Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz has asked Butch Sanders to remove himself from his seat as city manager.

On Jan. 1, Kautz penned a letter to Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, asking for a "review and advisory opinion" on whether the city council's approval of Sanders' contract in December conflicted with the city charter and contract law.

"[T]he issue is whether when a person is appointed to be city manager and given a contract with a specified term of office that person can holdover in the position of city manager once the contract has expired," wrote Kautz.

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Sanders' 16-month term with the city ended Dec. 31, 2013, so a renewal contract was on the city council agenda for the Dec. 9th regular meeting. The original agenda item, sponsored by Kautz, had proposed that Sanders' contract be extended only through Jan. 26, during his evaluation. 

At the last moment, Kautz removed her sponsorship for the nomination and tried to remove the item altogether. But then 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.

In the letter to the attorney general, Kautz explains that the contract has not been executed and she has made no nominations for a new city manager. Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead is the assistant city manager.

The letter also mentions how Kautz was hesitant to ask Olens for advice. 

"I have struggled with whether to pursue this request, because I am mindful that such action will add to the existing dispute between myself and members of Council and our City does not need the additional controversy," continued Kautz. "However, due to the litigious relationship between myself, members of Council and an acting attorney for the City on other pending issues, I am unable to receive an unbiased answer at the local level."

The letter is 17 pages, citing different parts of the city charter and other documents to back up her inquiry. Kautz sent the letter Friday (Jan. 3), in addition to an email to Sanders explaining the situation. 

"As Mayor, I have not nominated you to fill this vacancy due to the actions of Council at the last City Council Meeting; therefore, it is my belief that you no longer have the authority to act on behalf of the City as city manager," Kautz wrote to Sanders. "I would request that at this time you cease to do so."

Sanders and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts both have responded to the city manager ordeal, which can be read here. Kautz also released a statement.

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