The Hinesville City Council decided to further discuss amending a section of city code regarding the appointment and removal of its city manager during a regular meeting Aug. 3. District 2 Council Member Jason Floyd suggested the council hold a workshop prior to the next meeting before voting on the proposed amendment. The workshop will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 17; the regular meeting will begin at 3 p.m.
The proposed change to city code Section 2-282 regarding the appointment of a city manager would effectively remove the mayor from any such vote for appointment, and leave the decision with a majority of the city council only.
The proposed change to section 2-286 dealing with removal of a city manager, if approved, would read, “The city manager may be removed by a majority vote of the city council for good cause at any time.” Again, the word “mayor” was red-lined in the draft ordinance.
Tension between several council members and longtime City Manager Billy Edwards has been brewing since June 1, when Edwards was suspended two weeks without pay by a 3-1 vote by the council. No reason was given for the suspension. The Coastal Courier filed an open records request for a recording of the June 1 executive session, seeking answers to Edwards’ suspension. The request was denied.
During the July 20 council meeting, as seen on the city’s posted video of the meeting, District 1 Council Member Diana Reid publicly accuses Edwards of insubordination for not replying to an email in a timely fashion.
Darden informed the council he has been in contact with an expert on municipalities. He recommended the council meet with the expert for a training session in late September, to focus on relationships between elected officials and city staff, and proper procedures for executive sessions.
The mayor and council entered into executive session Thursday afternoon to review Edwards’ job performance evaluation. No action was taken when the council reconvened in open session. The council will meet with Edwards in closed session on Aug. 17 to present their findings to him. Edwards was on vacation last week and did not attend the meeting.