Wednesday, January 10, 2001
PTC city manager gets new job: City clerk
By JOHN MUNFORD
In a surprise move Thursday night, the Peachtree City Council appointed City Manager Jim Basinger as its city clerk for the first three months of this year.
The three-month term was used because that's how long it could take for council to determine whether it wants to seek changes to its city charter with one of those changes possibly being the structure of the clerk's position.
The titles, duties and compensation for Basinger and former City Clerk Nancy Faulkner will not change during those three months, said city information specialist Betsy Tyler. The only change is that instead of reporting to Paul Salvatore, the director of financial services, Faulkner will be working more closely with Basinger, Tyler said.
Originally, Faulkner reported to the director of administrative services, Jane Miller. But that was changed well over a year ago, Tyler said.
Mayor Bob Lenox said appointing Basinger as clerk was necessary to improve management structure since Faulkner was the only city employee who didn't report directly to the city manager. Lenox proposed appointing Basinger as city clerk for the entire year, but the councilman Robert Brooks proposed the three-month term as a compromise.
"As construed under our current charter, council is thus responsible for hiring, managing and evaluating the city clerk, a task for which council is ill-equipped and a relatively impossible situation for the holder of the clerk position and the city manager," said Lenox.
The idea of not reappointing Faulkner as clerk drew criticism from council members Carol Fritz and Annie McMenamin. Council originally decided to table the item, but it was brought up that the city charter requires council to appoint a clerk at its first meeting in January.
Faulkner was at the center of a controversy last year involving Councilman Dan Tennant, when she was deposed in his divorce case. Lawyers tried unsuccessfully to get Faulkner to accuse Tennant of sexual harassment. After an investigation, city officials found no wrong doing by either Faulkner or Tennant.
Fritz, the sole council member who voted against the three-month term for Basinger, said she thinks Lenox's intent is to make Basinger the city clerk on a permanent basis.
"I don't see any advantage to us not appointing her if we decide at some later date after we discuss the charter that we want to restructure," Fritz said. "I don't see what the issue is with doing it at that time. But until we know, I don't see the point in taking one person out."
Lenox said that council only appoints one person as a city employee and Basinger hires all other city positions.
"I'm simply trying to make this one the same as all the rest so there's a clear reporting channel and a path of responsibility," Lenox said.
Councilman Dan Tennant said the mayor was intending to wait until council gets the charter changed to determine how it should effect how city government runs.
"Then it should stay as it is until we get to that point," Fritz replied. "If we don't know what we're going to do, what is the point of changing something now?"
Tennant said the idea was to function better from a managerial standpoint.
Lenox said he didn't want the city to be "locked in" for a year when the charter changes could be approved in a couple of months.
McMenamin suggested that council appoint Faulkner as acting city clerk, but no motion was made to that effect. Faulkner told council she would serve in such an interim role if deemed necessary.
Faulkner also noted that not reappointing her would make it appear that council has problems with her job performance.
She said she would not hold the city responsible if council decides to revise the charter or its management structure "after they have gone through the proper procedures."
City clerks help "protect the integrity of city council," McMenamin said.
"I don't have fault with Nancy working as city clerk," McMenamin said. "That's the bottom line for me. To replace her right now clearly says to me that we are singling her out as an individual as a city clerk for what reason? ... I just don't feel justified doing that at this point."
The agenda for the meeting indicated that Faulkner would be appointed city clerk since the matter was scheduled to be taken up on council's consent agenda, which is usually reserved for housekeeping-type matters. But Lenox had the matter taken off the consent agenda for discussion.
Council plans to review its city charter in the upcoming weeks. If any changes are sought, they must be approved by the Georgia Legislature. After March, Brooks said, council will know whether any potential changes to the charter are approved.
"I think it will clear up a serious structural problem and give us the flexibility we need when we enact the new charter changes to take whatever action is appropriate without being locked in to where we are today," Lenox said before recommending Basinger be appointed as clerk.
Lenox added that he felt Basinger would resign as city clerk in two weeks when council meets again if deemed necessary.