The pay of Ludowici Municipal Judge Larry Fowler was questioned at the February Ludowici City Council meeting.
Local resident Janis Goode claimed that the council’s recent approval of a $250 raise for the municipal court judge’s position was not right. According to Goode, Fowler asked for an increase from $500 a month to $750; however, she said, the section of the state charter that addresses municipal judge pay states that it has to be between $300 and $500. Goode said that an increase that puts the pay above $500 has to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly.
City Attorney Joe Kitchings said that the matter is being looked into at the state level to ensure that the city is able to approve the increase. He said that if it is found that the city is not capable of approving the raise, the judge’s pay will be adjusted back.
Mayor James Fuller told Goode that the city will continue to pay Fowler $750 until the matter is resolved. If it turns out that the raise is not allowed, Fowler will be required to pay back the additional money.
Also at the meeting, Councilman Mark Chesser brought up the matter of city hall staying open on Fridays. Chesser asked why the office had been closing at 2 p.m. on Fridays when a change to extend the hours from noon-4:30 p.m. on Fridays was approved at the January meeting.
Fuller said that he had approved the move, feeling that it is a minor issue, until it could be brought back up at the February meeting. Chesser said he does not think it is a minor issue.
After a brief discussion, the council voted unanimously to keep city hall open until 4:30 p.m. on Fridays, which is the same time it closes on other weekdays.
In other business, the council:
• approved, 3-2, a resolution for a Coastal Development Block Grant for improvement to the city’s sewage system. Mary Hamilton, Gwen Davis and Frank McClelland Jr. voted in favor, while Chesser and Johnny Manning voted in opposition.
• unanimously approved a four-year contract extension to Debbie Bolick for providing meals to the city jail for inmates at the cost of $6.50 per meal for the first two years, with a rate increase to $7 for final two years.
• approved, 3-2, a contract for Kadee’s Korner to provide polo shirt uniforms to all city employees for no more than $500. Hamilton, Davis and McClelland Jr. voted in favor, while Manning and Chesser voted against.
• approved, 3-2, the appointment of Davis to the Coastal Regional Development Commission and increased her pay $100 for serving on the panel. Hamilton and McClelland Jr. voted in favor of the motion, with Manning and Chesser voting in opposition. Davis abstained from the vote, and Fuller cast the deciding vote in favor.
• approved, 3-2, renovations to city hall for several offices for $2,037.79.