The Hinesville City Council calmly discussed several proposed ordinance amendments during a regular meeting Sept. 7, ahead of last weekend’s mandatory city-wide hurricane evacuation.
The council voted unanimously to amend a section of an ordinance dealing with pensions and retirement, a move necessitated by the severance package given to former city manager Billy Edwards, according to Interim City Manager Ken Howard. The amendment ensures that severance payments to Edwards are included as earnings under the retirement benefit plan for the purpose of calculating the former city manager’s final average earnings.
Mayor Allen Brown was authorized by the council to sign the GMEBS Defined Benefit Retirement Plan Adoption Agreement.
A provision to increase the benefit formula for elected or appointed city officials from $40 to $60 per month per year of service beginning on Oct. 1 was added.
Council members also discussed a model ordinance from the Georgia Municipal Association as a guide for the hiring and firing of a city manager.
GMA’s model ordinance states the city manager, "Is employed at will and may be summarily removed from office at any time by the city council."
Council members agreed the mayor should have a voice in recommending the hiring of a city manager.
Council Members Diana Reid and Keith Jenkins remarked the mayor’s input was important in the hiring process, as the mayor would be working with the city manager on a day-to-day basis. Jenkins added the mayor would make a recommendation for hiring a city manager, but it would take three council members to confirm the recommendation.
Council members also reviewed a proposed revision to the city’s personnel policy, regarding the appeal process when an employee wants to appeal a recommended disciplinary action by the city manager.
"Upon the acceptance of a request to appeal, the City Clerk shall fix a time and place for a public hearing. Individual notice of such hearing shall be given to the employee, and notice to the general public shall be given by publication of notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the City. In the event that the City Council denies a request to appeal the City Manager’s decision, notice of such denial shall be delivered to the employee in person or by certified mail within ten (10) business days of such denial. Any person aggrieved by any decision of the City, its officials, employees or agents pursuant to this article, may seek review of such decision by filing an appropriate pleading in the superior court of Liberty County," reads the proposed amendment to the ordinance.
In other city business:
• The council approved two bids in the total amount of $75,000 to A 3 Communications to purchase security cameras for the city hall and Hinesville Police Department buildings.
• Council members accepted a $118,250 bid from Coastal Solar for a solar project at the water reclamation facility on JV Road. A system consultant with Coastal Solar addressed the council on his company’s bid and product, and their intent to subcontract local and minority-owned businesses. The low bid was in the amount of $112,503 from Hannah Solar and the high bid was from Alternative Energy Southeast in the amount of $142,628. The city attorney confirmed that the council is not required to approve the lowest bid; they can consider other factors when awarding a bid. The city applied for and received funding for the project in April.