Adel Mayor Buddy Duke called the Monday, May 16, 2022, meeting of the Adel City Council to order.
Council Members present were Terry McClain, Walter Cowart, Celestine Hayes, and Jody Greene. Councilman Greg Paige was absent.
Others present were City Manager John Flythe, City Clerk Rhonda Rowe, City Attorney Tim Tanner, Officer Katelyn Nitschke with the Adel Police Department, Community Development Director Randy Lane, and members of the public and press.
Councilman McClain gave the invocation, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of minutes Councilman McClain made a motion to approve the minutes of May 2, 2022, as presented. Councilman Greene seconded. The decision was unanimous.
Ordinance establishing salaries for Mayor and Council
Ordinance #22-02, amending Section 2-37, Salaries of Division 1 Generally of Article II, Mayor and City Council of Chapter 2 Administration of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Adel, Georgia, was read for the second time.
This ordinance establishes the annual salaries of the Council at $13,500 and Mayor at $18,900, effective with the first meeting in January 2024. The ordinance also provides for the method of payment for salaries as well as for reimbursement of expenses.
Councilman Cowart made a motion to approve the ordinance. Councilman McClain seconded. All were in favor.
Nepotism policy discussion
City Manager John Flythe discussed the shortage in the City of Adel’s workforce. He noted the City is down from close to 100 into the 80s as far as number of employees.
Following advertisement for positions, they are hard to fill or even get applications, Flythe said. “We have some individuals that have been interested, but have a family member employed with the City; and we have a nepotism law on the books that says we can’t hire immediate family members.
“We have researched policies of some surrounding communities. One does not have a policy, and others have a law that says if you hire family members, the supervisor of one family member cannot supervise another.”
Flythe is recommending that the City be able to hire family members, but not work in the same department; thereby eliminating any supervisory control over potential family members.
Flythe also reminded the Council that the City has already relaxed the nepotism policy for the hiring of volunteer firefighters; “so we do have family members working in that department now.”
City Attorney Tim Tanner said the issue is that “if a family member works for the Sanitation Department, another family member cannot work in the Police Department. It is prohibited and is a very strict rule.”
Tanner had copies of the nepotism policies from the cities of Valdosta, Moultrie, Blakely, Cairo and Tifton, which are all essentially the same. They allow family members to be employed, just not in the same department, if it results in one supervising the other.
Tanner also read the language contained in a couple of those policies from other cities. He said he can make a recommendation on the language if the Council wants. He recommended that the City needs to relax Part V, Section I, of the Recruiting and Hiring Policy Nepotism Rule and get rid of the very first sentence; that sentence being “employment of members of an employee’s or elected official’s immediate family is prohibited.” In its place put “relatives shall not be employed in the same department if such employment will result in an employee directly or indirectly supervising, or having supervisory control, over a relative. Supervisory relationship notwithstanding, relatives shall not generally be employed in the same division of a department.” Mayor Duke asked if this would satisfy the ultimate goal, which is to hopefully help the City come back to fully staffed.
Tanner added, “You want to prevent favoritism, but you also have situations negative with that, which could be harassment or something.” So, he would add a fraternization policy. It refers to people dating and working in the same department. He didn’t think this was in the City’s personnel policy.
Mayor Duke suggested “taking these one at a time.”
Flythe said, “We have a situation now that involves a kin person willing to work, but we can’t hire them.” He was hoping the City Council could do something that night because it would be three weeks before the Council meets again. “This particular instance is for a grass cutting situation where we are needing someone,” Flythe explained. Councilwoman Hayes asked if the City had advertised and what kind of advertising was involved.
Flythe responded, “We do standard advertising. We’re hiring street and sanitation workers from the temp agency now. They are not really our employees.” He added that the City is having a hard problem hiring CDL drivers and that is affecting the workload.
Councilwoman Hayes confirmed that the City had advertised in the newspaper and then suggested the possibility of having a job fair.
Councilman McClain asked what the City’s normal numbers are at full staff. He was advised at full staff it used to run close to 100 employees. The City’s staffing is now in the low 80s.
Flythe discussed the number of employees out on any given day, and not having enough people to pick up trash, limbs and leaves, etc. and having to move employees around to get it picked up. “That adds to the problem because you have those that don’t know the routes,” he said.
Mayor Duke asked the city attorney to repeat his recommendation of the language to amend the current nepotism policy for clarification.
Tanner said the Council would delete the first sentence in section 1 of the current nepotism policy that reads: “Employment of members of an employee’s or elected official’s immediate family is prohibited.” It would be replaced with, “Immediate family members shall not be employed in the same department if such employment will result in an employee directly or indirectly supervising, or having supervisory control, over an immediate family member. Supervisory relationship notwithstanding, immediate family members shall not generally be employed in the same division of a department.” Councilwoman Hayes asked if the Council could table the matter until all the Council Members were present. Mayor Duke said he had tried to contact Councilman Paige two or three times that day, but had not heard back from him.
Councilman Greene made a motion to approve the language of the city attorney’s recommendation to amend the nepotism policy. Councilman McClain seconded. Members Greene, McClain, and Cowart voted in favor. Councilwoman Hayes opposed. The motion passed 3-1.
The Council was advised that Governor Brian Kemp has signed the de-annexation bill proposed in the state legislature by Rep. Penny Houston. This bill will de-annex the property of DCOM Motorsports, Inc., located at 2521 Highway 41, and place it back into the county.
Adel Daylily Festival success
Mayor Duke reported a huge success with the Adel Daylily Festival and reported there were over 20 new vendors this year. There were probably 10,000 people in attendance, and he spoke with individuals there from Florida and Alabama.
Main Street Director
The Council was advised that interviews have been completed for this position, and hopefully there will be an announcement coming forth soon. (There were a total of 10 applicants, with one application withdrawn.)
Work session Councilwoman Hayes asked if the Council could set a date for another work session. The city manager said that negotiations on sales taxes are coming up, so that is an item the Council needs to discuss. Mayor Duke planned to contact everyone for an agreeable date and time.
There was no further business, and the meeting was adjourned.