Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood now employs two staff members. Administrative assistant Patricia Fowler has been employed by the mayor’s office since Hobgood took office. Her annual salary is $51,984.
Main Street director Ginger Garrard was also hired by Hobgood. Her annual salary is $41,202. It is not budgeted as part of the mayor’s office.
Council Member Bill Bryan is expected to propose a change to the city’s charter at Thursday’s meeting that would remove the mayor’s ability to employ and solely supervise a staff.
“It’s just not good practice for a part-time mayor to have a full-time staff,” Bryan said.
Under the city’s charter, the mayor is allowed to employ a staff. This staff is subject to budget control from the city council, and staff members are subject to the city’s personnel policies, but the mayor is the sole supervisor.
Bryan said the city clerk and the city manager’s assistant should be able to absorb any administrative needs currently handled by the mayor’s office.
“It’s not like we’re leaving the mayor hanging,” he said.
While his position is part time, Hobgood said he feels the mayor’s office has full-time needs.
“A lot of (Fowler’s) duties involve answering the phone, keeping up with my schedule and calendar, researching certain issues. It’s general administration,” he said. “A lot of times, she can handle a problem without calling me.”
Fowler has worked under Hobgood as administrative assistant since he began serving as mayor five years ago. She previously worked as clerk for the Cherokee County Commissioner’s Office (also under Hobgood) and at the Cherokee County Tax Commissioner’s Office.
“She is more experienced than probably anyone in City Hall in regard to the overall operation of government,” Hobgood said.
As for Garrard, Bryan said he would like to retain her position with the city but place her under direct supervision from someone other than the mayor. Hobgood said Garrard already takes “most of her direction” from the Main Street board of directors.
Bryan contends that the proposal is motivated by a desire to save money for the city.
“The bottom line is, we’ve got $60,000-plus that we can put to better use,” he said.
Hobgood, however, said he isn’t so sure about that.
“There are less than pure motives here, I would say … some personal stuff, and we don’t need to be dealing with that,” he said.
To amend the charter by ordinance, the city council must vote twice to approve the changes.
Bryan said the change, if approved by the city council, would likely go into effect on Jan. 11, after Fowler is vested in the city’s retirement plan.
The city council is also expected to:
* Have a public hearing on the annual update of the city’s amended Capital Improvements Element and five-year Short Term Work Plan for Canton’s impact fee program;
* Consider approval of amending a lease agreement with T-Mobile;
* Consider approval of budget amendments for the city’s holiday lights and projection equipment for the Canton Theatre;
* Consider approval to accept streets in Hampton Close and Reynolds Park at River Green;
* Consider reappointing Wanda Roach, Cleveland Chambers and Lewis Cline to the Downtown Development Authority;
* Consider approving the annual update of the city’s amended Capital Improvements Element and five-year Short Term Work Plan;
* Vote on the enacting of a rental-car tax to benefit economic development and tourism;
* Vote on ceiling repair bids;
* Discuss and possibly vote regarding the hiring of an architect for the renovation of council chambers;
* Vote on amendments to the city’s travel and special events expenditure policy;
* Discuss and possibly vote on the council’s pension plan, salary increases and term limits;
* Vote on a fire fee system feasibility study;
* Vote on a Georgia Municipal Association retirement benefit cost study; and
* Acknowledge Northside Hospital, Inc., as successor to Northside Hospital – Cherokee Inc.