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Claxton Council Feuds Over Public Works Director, New Job Description for Another Employee

Tensions were high at the Claxton City Council meeting Monday night as Council mulled whether or not to assign more duties to a current employee because another may not be fulfilling his own duties. It started when the fire chief was under consideration for ‘additional duties’ in a new job description. 


Mayor Terry Branch told council members Monday that the job description for a City Public Services Coordinator was before them for consideration. He said the position was a condition of him assuming the role and duties of City Administrator in June, while simultaneously carrying on as mayor.

He then said that Claxton Fire Chief Harold Rogers, who also serves as the city code enforcement officer, animal control officer and building inspector, would assume the duties of the Public Services Coordinator. “To be honest with you, Harold does an awful lot of this already. Harold would be the contact person between the staff and council,” Branch said.

The job description as presented to Council is below.

Claxton City Public Services Coordinator

“So, this is a new job?” Councilwoman Tina Hagan asked.

“Yep, a new job,” Branch replied.

“And has it been posted?” Hagan pressed.

“It doesn’t need to be,” Branch said. “It’s a new job description. Added duties.”

Councilwoman Lisa Perry told Branch it was the first she had heard of the position, other than when she read about it in a local media outlet. Hagan seconded that notion, saying that’s where she learned of the plan for the position as well.

Perry said the position was previously discussed as a possibility for Harold Rogers upon retirement as Fire Chief but Branch said that wouldn’t be happening for at least another year and that the understanding was that in the interim, he would assume additional duties. Branch told council that Rogers would also receive an additional stipend.

Hagan reiterated that she felt that the decision was made and placed in the newspaper without the decision of Council. Branch said that was “not intentional.” Perry said she called City Hall over her concern about finding out about the decision ahead of council voting.

“It sounds like we’re duplicating jobs. What do we have department heads for? If I look at this job description, I mean…” Perry said.

Branch told Perry and Hagan that the city currently has department heads over each department. The new position would be a liaison between the mayor and the outside staff.

“If you’re going to be the Administrator, why do you need a Coordinator to handle outside staff?” Hagan asked Branch. Branch said the position would help with coordination and efficiency would come from having someone in the field 100% of the time.

Perry also said the duties were a “huge load” to put on Rogers. “He’s the fire chief, he’s the citation person, he’s over animal control. I just don’t see how you can effectively do all of that.”  Earlier in the meeting, Rogers told council that the animal control officer is a full-time job in itself.

Hagan said Rogers’ salary was already increased twice since she was a council member. Branch clarified those were additional stipends for additional duties, when he took on more tasks. “But we just give someone a stipend instead of calling it a raise,” Perry said.

Branch said Rogers has already been doing all of the duties but making it ‘official’ would give him the opportunity to be more effective. Perry again asked why there was a need for the position and Branch maintained that the job would make a better use of people’s time.

Councilman Anderson asked Branch if the addition of the individual in the job position would help him juggle the mayor’s job and city administrator job. Branch said it would, and that a new city administrator would say the position is necessary.  

Hagan and Perry both asked why the city has department heads if the Public Services Coordinator would oversee just one other person – the department head of the Water & Sewer department.

Interim City Administrator Carter Crawford, who will no longer be employed by the city at the end of the month, said it’s because the department head “is not capable of doing their job,” which prompted Hagan to say there’s an issued with city administrator, if a person is not doing their job.

“These things are not being done right now because the person responsible for them is not capable of doing them,” Crawford said. Both Perry and Hagan asked Crawford if discussions had taken place with the employee or disciplinary actions were started. Crawford did not directly answer the question but listed a number of tasks that were not being completed in the Water & Sewer department

“They’re not capable of doing their job,” Crawford said again, saying equipment and vehicles were not being kept up, employees aren’t broken into work crews, and inventory is not being maintained.  

“Well do you want to terminate?” Branch asked. Hagan said she did not want to terminate, but more training may be necessary and that the city administrator should be instructing the department heads on what they need to do.

Branch asked why they should hire a full-time employee when they can pay a stipend, but much of the same conversation circled back around. Branch then said he thought Harold [Rogers] would take on the duties without the stipend because he’s that dedicated to the city, but WIllard said he felt that was immoral and “You can’t ask someone to do more with no money.”

Hagan said she felt it was wrong that no one else was given the opportunity to apply for the position.

City Administrator Carter Crawford could be heard speaking over the council members as they tried to talk amongst themselves.

Councilman Risher Willard said it’s common for organizations to have separation between administration and operations managers. He said duties get large and things get overlooked. “I think having this kind of position is going to streamline the positions between the mayor and the physical plant stuff,” Willard said. “This is forward looking and going to help us split the duties where one person is not just overwhelmed.”

The Council could not come to a consensus and City Attorney Bill Callaway suggested they meet for a workshop. “You want a unity of opinion,” he told them.

Councilman Anderson said there was a lot of “misunderstanding and lack of information,” alluding to the fact that a workshop would be beneficial, but he was interrupted by Councilwoman Perry who said “I don’t have a misunderstanding.” “I didn’t imply that you did,” Anderson said.

Anderson went on to suggest the vote on the job description be put off until mid-July.

Ultimately, the Council voted to schedule a workshop to discuss job descriptions and streamling duties. The workshop is set for July 16, 2018 at 5:00 P.M. It will take place ahead of the regular council meeting at 6:00 P.M.

You can watch the meeting below. The discussion begins at the 1:10:00 mark.

Claxton Council Meeting – Audit Report, vote on upcoming fiscal year budget, utility bills, and more. Begins at 6PM

Posted by All On Georgia – Evans on Monday, June 18, 2018

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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