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Evans Local Government

Claxton Council Votes to Eliminate City Administrator Position

After several months of discussion and deliberation, the Claxton City Council voted Monday night to eliminate the position of City Administrator and, in turn, assign the duties to the mayor.

The item was on the agenda for the regular scheduled meeting and when Mayor Terry Branch asked if any members of council wanted to discuss the measure, Councilman Risher Willard told his colleagues he wanted to present a document and make a motion. He distributed a sheet with the wording of his motion along with a flow chart.

It read:

“Mayor Branch, I would like to proffer the following motion:

“That effective July 1, 2018, the City of Claxton will discontinue the position of City Administrator and remit to the Mayor all duties and responsibilities of the day-to-day oversight of the City’s operations; furthermore, to compensate the Mayor for these new duties with a $1000 per month stipend over and above the Mayor’s salary of $800 per month; furthermore the City will adopt an organizational chart that is reflective of the Mayor’s new role, as shown in Attachment A to this motion.”

The statement and the organizational chart are in the PDF below.

Claxton Council

The motion was seconded by Councilman Larry Anderson, however, Councilwoman Tina Hagan expressed concern saying, “So we really feel like we don’t need a city administrator?”

Willard replied, “Tina, I am convinced that with the staff we have right now that we can manage the city’s business and the beauty of it is if it comes to be that we can’t, we can always hire one under. But I’m willing to try this for a fiscal year and let’s see how it goes. We’ll save some money and I’m convinced that with our excellent staff we have here that it can be accomplished.”

Hagan replied, “As you see, with all these proposals and estimates right here, we have a lot of stuff coming down the line. That’s going to have to take somebody that really knows the business and know how to do it. I’m concerned about that.”

There was no more discussion and Mayor Branch called for a vote by a show of hands. The motion passed in a 5-2 vote with Councilwoman Lisa Perry and Councilwoman Tina Hagan opposed.

The lack of discussion was not for a lack of opinion. The City Council held a workshop on the matter back in March to discuss the pros and cons of having a city administrator. At that time, Interim City Administrator Carter Crawford advised council members not to eliminate the position. Crawford became interim city manager in December 2016. He began with one month overlapping the work of former City Administrator Gayle Durrence and was supposed to remain for three months following her departure on December 31, 2016.

Crawford, however, has been working on a month-to-month basis ever since. He recently cut his work back to part-time hours, which spawned the idea of a part-time administrator or no administrator at all, and he works on a flat-fee contracted basis of $4,200 per month – even with his reduced hours. The part-time job makes for a salary of about $50,000 a year. The July 1 termination date would put Crawford’s tenure at the City of Claxton at 18 months. 

The implementation of the new organizational chart will save $3,200 per month off the top.

In the March workshop, Mayor Branch said he was willing to assume the duties and that he already worked full-time for the citizens of Claxton. Coupled with the experience of the staff at city hall and the new hires, he has said he feels confident in his abilities with their assistance. He also said he would be willing to try it on a trial basis and, in the event that the Council was not satisfied, an ad could always be placed to seek a full-time or part-time city administrator.

At that time, it was also discussed that the lack of an administrator’s position would free up considerable money for salaries. The previous administrator earned around $98,000 annually, plus benefits and reimbursements.

Branch contacted the Georgia Municipal Association about other cities of similar size. He was told that 50% of Georgia cities like Claxton have a City Administrator position while 50% do not.

You can watch the council meeting in the video below. The discussion begins at the 22:30 mark.

Claxton Council Meeting – Talking budgets, the election superintendent for the November elections, a cash handling policy, and the city administartor position.

Posted by All On Georgia – Evans on Monday, April 16, 2018

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

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