Even after the city attorney's input, Mayor Kelly Kautz expressed Monday (Jan. 6) that she still doesn't want City Manager Butch Sanders to continue working for Snellville.
“I do not believe that you have the authority to act on behalf of the city nor do I believe that you have a valid agreement for compensation at this time,” Kautz wrote to Sanders in a letter obtained by the
Gwinnett Daily Post.
The situation began last Friday (Jan. 3) when Kautz sent Georgia's Attorney General Sam Olens a letter asking for an advisory opinion on whether the city council's approval of Sanders' contract in December conflicted with the city charter and contract law.
She also sent Sanders an email the same day asking him to remove himself as city manager because his 16-month contract had ended Dec. 31 and she had not nominated him for the position.
On Saturday (Jan. 4), City Attorney Tony Powell responded by saying that the mayor had made a "terrible mistake" and the only way to suspend or remove the city manager is by four votes from the council, according to the city charter.
In the Dec. 9th city council meeting, Kautz had originally sponsored an agenda item that would lengthen Sanders' contract through Jan. 26 for his evaluation. She decided to remove her sponsorship during the meeting, so Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts brought forward Sanders' three-year contract, which he and Powell had drafted the week before. The council approved the contract 5-1, with Kautz voting against it.
“I am disappointed in your recent failure of [communication] and transparency,” Kautz wrote in Monday's letter. “I find it disturbing that you participated in closed door conversations with members of council to attempt to secure a contract for yourself which included a 25 percent raise in salary and benefits. … This is not the open and equal communication that I expect or that you have promised when we hired you as city manager.”
Kautz told the GDP that she has not authorized payment for Sanders, so things could possibly result in liability for the city when pay checks are issued. Kautz has recognized Assistant City Manager Roy Whitehead, who's also the police chief for Snellville, as the acting city manager.
While Powell said the attorney general would not be authorized to give an informal advisory opinion because of the provisions of the city manager's contract, Kautz reiterated in Monday's letter to Sanders that he should stop working until the attorney general can offer his input.
A statement from the Attorney General's office should be released later this week, a spokeswoman told the GDP.
Despite all the controversy,
Sanders said he will continue as city manager.
"I do not like being a pawn in anyone's personal game or caught in the middle of this continuing intrasquad battle, but I am comfortable continuing to do my job and carry out the commitment I made to this community until a higher authority rules, hopefully definitively and with finality, otherwise," he said in a statement from Saturday (Jan. 4).
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts also supports Sanders and Powell.
"I believe that all the members of council will agree with me that there is no controversy concerning Mr. Sanders competency or employment," Witts said in a statement Saturday.