Canton Council considering cut to mayor’s staff
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
November 14, 2012 12:04 AM | 2500 views | 5 5 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Canton City Council may take steps at Thursday’s meeting to strip the mayor of his staff.

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.
Comments
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Jane Doe
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November 15, 2012
It's high time Councilman Bill Bryan man up and tell us what his feud with Mayor Hobgood is all about. The idea that he is so concerned about saving the city money when he would not even listen to the proposal that merging city and county fire services which would have saved big bucks. Now he wants to pass a bond issue that will include a training facility even though the county has announced the plan to build one. We don't need two. This is really trying to save us money. Quit acting like a bunch of fifth grade girls and take care of city business.
Great Sky
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November 14, 2012
I, along with many of my neighbors, are SO sick of this pettiness! These turf battles are pointless, and they do nothing to help our city move forward or address the issues. Bill Bryan and many of his colleagues on the Council have no vision for Canton, and they have no use for others who come forward with good ideas. Next thing you know, Councilman Bryan will want Canton to succeed! When can we vote these guys out of office?????
Great Sky
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November 14, 2012
And in "succeed", I mean as "from the union", not in the way he should be thinking about success. Do I recall that he was also the same one that was floating the idea of dissolving the city because it had "no purpose"?
Bill Bryan
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November 15, 2012
Dang straight I want Canton to "succeed"! These phony baloney anonymous comments just crack me up. Keep em coming! :)
anonymous
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November 15, 2012
While you probably meant to type "secede" in keeping with the new media buzzword, (judging by your incredulous tone), it is interesting that you accidentally typed "succeed"... which DOES mean to progress/win against stagnation/move forward through vision/propose to change the future for the greater good. Granted, Canton has some sizable issues as well as our fair share of pointless squabbles, but I doubt it's enough to warrant a full-time staff just for the mayor. With a city this size, with a part-time mayor, suggesting ways to free up much needed tax income is common sense - not a turf battle. Please.
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