The city of Ludowici hired Luke Moses as the new city attorney and appointed Billy Tomlinson as the city’s new municipal court judge Thursday during a special called meeting.
Tomlinson was sworn into his new position immediately following the meeting by Ludowici Mayor James Fuller.
Moses, from the law firm of Jones Osteen and Jones, was put right to work as the city asked for his guidance on several issues.
Fuller asked Moses to review the law regarding the appointment of Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem Bobby Harrison Smith III.
Fuller said Smith has served as judge pro tem since May, but a city resident has questioned whether Smith is legally qualified to hold the position.
James Wasdin of Ludowici wrote a letter to the mayor dated July 18, asserting that state law requires municipal court judges to be, “licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia and (be) an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia.”
“We have a judge pro tem that is the probate judge; he is also the magistrate judge,” Fuller said to Moses. “He is not a lawyer and we need some kind of definitive answer by the time we meet (Aug. 14) on whether he can or he can’t serve.”
Fuller said he has heard compelling arguments for and against, and asked Moses to provide the correct answer as soon as he could.
“We just want to know for certain on whether yes he can, or no he can’t, so we know what we need to do,” Fuller said.
Fuller also requested that Moses review and draft a possible new disciplinary policy covering harassment and sexual harassment. The mayor and council also requested that Moses help them draft a possible new ordinance for wrecker services. There are two services tht the city rotates between. However, Fuller said more often wrecker services from outside the immediate area are being used. Fuller said that means residents have to make arrangements to retrieve their vehicles that are towed out of the city and county. He said he would like wrecker services to have a lot or facility in the community, thereby making it easier for people to retrieve their cars.
The mayor said he would like to be placed on the agenda for an upcoming Long County Commission meeting to go over SPLOST funds. He said he thinks the city is not receiving the correct amount, noting a decrease in the amounts they’ve received from the county despite recent growth in business and population.
“The amount should be going up, not down,” Fuller said.
The council approved using OTCS, a testing lab, for drug testing. As the city prepares to implement its new drug testing policy, OTCS will randomly draw the names of city employees and handle the testing procedures.