PTC headed to lawsuit over mayor’s pay cut
City’s risk management group won’t cover cost of council majority’s defense, potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook
It appears that Peachtree City taxpayers are on their way to paying thousands of dollars for a legal battle between Mayor Don Haddix and his fellow city council members.
The continuance of a steep cut to Haddix’s pay was adopted as part of the city’s upcoming budget Thursday night, despite a letter to the city last week threatening a lawsuit if the mayor’s pay isn’t fully restored.
The potential liability to taxpayers has been increased because the city’s risk management company will not cover the defense of council in such a lawsuit. That means the city council will not be able to cap its costs for the legal action at $25,000, which is the city’s deductible.
The letter from attorney Michael Bowers gave council 30 days to restore Haddix’s pay and compensate him for missed back pay. Haddix’s pay was cut in May from $750 a month to just under $75 to recoup money the city spent to indirectly reimburse Haddix for his legal defense in a libel lawsuit filed by former Mayor Harold Logsdon over an email Haddix sent to a city employee.
If Haddix initiates a suit seeking reinstatement of his pay and lost wages, the city may perhaps also be on the hook for his legal fees, along with any damages approved by the court, should he prevail.
In the notice letter to the city, Bowers notes that the city charter requires the salary of mayor and council to be set during the previous term of mayor and council. Council’s solution to get around that language was to pass the pay cut as a “budget adjustment.”
None of the four city council members would answer The Citizen’s questions after the meeting about whether taxpayers could be expected to foot the bill for council’s defense if a lawsuit were to be filed by Haddix.
The Citizen also inquired if the council members would be willing to pay for the lawsuit out of their own salary, in the same way they have forced Haddix to pay the city back for its expense defending him in the libel lawsuit. Again, there was little reply from council members as they walked out of the room, save for a comment from Councilman George Dienhart, who said “That’s a good question!”