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RUNDOWN: Claxton City Council Meeting – September 3, 2019

Summary from the Claxton City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 6:00 P.M. The meeting was moved to Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday. This is a summary produced by AllOnGeorgia. 


The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Terry Branch. The invocation and pledge were said followed by a roll call. Councilwoman Joy Freeman and City Attorney Bill Callaway were both absent.

Councilwoman Tina Hagan made a motion to approve the agenda, which was seconded by Councilman Larry Anderson, and approved 6-0.

Anderson made a motion to approve the minutes from the previous meeting, which was seconded by Councilman Dean Cameron.

As part of OLD BUSINESS, Council discussed proposed changes to the personnel policy. NOTE: AllOnGeorgia was not notified of the special-called meeting to address the personnel policy issues, but has requested the audio file of the meeting recording.

Mayor Branch referenced the called meeting and told Council that the copy they were to review was based on changes suggested during the meeting. Among the changes:

  • Changes to the organizational chart to move the positions of  ‘Code Enforcement’ and ‘Animal Control’ under Public Works instead of the Fire Department. Branch suggested moving ‘Natural Gas Department’ to be under the Public Works Department as well. Councilman Risher Willard suggested adding an ‘Assistant Police Chief’ under the Police Department, but Police Chief Dale Kirkland informed Council that he does not have an Assistant Police Chief in the current structure as the position is not approved.
  • Updates to ‘Reprimand’ – Reprimand was included in the previous policy, but the new policy will distinguish between oral and written reprimands.
  • Update ‘Performance’ with regard to insubordination to include ‘willful refusal and failure’ to follow reasonable instructions or City policies in situations not under emergency conditions.
  • Changes to overtime – Branch explained that under the proposed policy, an employee must work in excess of 40 hours of regularly scheduled hours before being eligible for overtime pay.
    • Branch said that it needed to be clarified because past employees have taken a vacation day and then came in on the weekend because they were on-call and were then paid at the overtime rate of time and a half. He said the new policy would apply to anyone who takes a vacation day or sick day during the week preceding overtime collection even if they were on call or were called out for an emergency.
      “If someone took a vacation day off during the week and then came in on Saturday, they would not be paid overtime.”
    • Willard expressed his disagreement. “I don’t think they should be penalized for taking off. That’s part of the work week. I don’t think you should be penalized for being on leave. Even if you’re not on call.”
    • Councilwoman Tina Hagan echoed Willard’s statement. “Are they still being paid the 40 hours with the sick day or the vacation day?” which Branch affirmed. “It’s supposed to be any time after you hit 40 hours,” Hagan said.
    • Branch reiterated that he wanted them to work 40 hours before being able to collect overtime.
    • Anderson, Hagan, and Willard again pressed on their points at which time, Branch backtracked on his position.
    • There was no motion made to alter the language as Branch had it written and the policy still reflects “An employee must work in excess of 40 hours of regularly scheduled hours before being eligible for overtime pay.”
  • Accrual of Maximum Vacation Hours – The maximum accrued per year is going to be capped at 96 hours and the maximum accrued during the tenure of the employee is 240 hours.
  • Accrual of Maximum Sick Leave is altered to reduce the amount of time that can be accrued over the lifetime of the employee. The previous amount was 480 hours, but it is being cut to 240 hours.
    • Branch said there are 9 employees who had close to 480 hours of accrued time. Branch asked if council wanted to grandfather in the 9 employees who accumulated sick time or if council sought to have employees not be awarded anymore sick time until they use down their sick leave to the new 240 hours.
    • No decision was made on this item.
  • Panel of Physicians language was changed to require the placement of physicians on a panel for care and medical needs of employees who are injured on the job to be appointed and removed by the City Clerk. The previous policy cited the City Administrator, but the city eliminated that position and gave the powers and duties to the mayor.

No action was taken on this matter.

NEW BUSINESS

The mayor presented the handouts from the Claxton Chamber of Commerce because the Chamber director was at the Commission meeting.

Annette Collins was on the agenda for a presentation but was not present at the meeting.

Mayor Branch asked City Clerk Diane Parker to discuss the fact that the Mayor and Council members up for re-election were running unopposed. Parker said the November election would be canceled.

Ryan Tomblin’s Claxton High School Homecoming Parade Permit was item 6 on the agenda.

Council went into executive session at 6:20 P.M. for the purposes of addressing personnel and, upon returning to regular session voted to suspend municipal court judge Ben Brinson due to his DUI arrest over the Labor Day holiday.

Meeting adjourned.

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

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