Jul 29, 2014

Snellville City Attorney: Sanders Is Still City Manager, Mayor Is Incorrect

Mayor Kelly Kautz released a statement saying that City Manager Butch Sanders' seat is now vacant since his old contract expired last year.

Snellville City Attorney: Sanders Is Still City Manager, Mayor Is Incorrect
This article originally posted at 7:10 p.m.

City officials in Snellville seem to be in disagreement on whether City Manager Butch Sanders is still employed with the city. 

Mayor Kelly Kautz released a statement saying that the city manager's seat is now vacant since Sanders' old 16-month contract expired Dec. 31, and his new three-year contract has not been executed. In a letter to Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, she asked 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 sent an email to Sanders regarding the issue Friday (Jan. 3).

"As Mayor, I have not nominated you to fill this vacancy due to the actions of Council at the last City Council Meeting; therefore, it is my belief that you no longer have the authority to act on behalf of the City as city manager," Kautz said in the email. "I would request that at this time you cease to do so."

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But Snellville City Attorney Tony Powell has shed some light on the issue and says the mayor is incorrect in believing that Sanders is no longer with the city.

"I am afraid you have made a terrible mistake," said Powell in an email to the mayor. 

In the message, Powell highlighted Section 3.14(e) of the City Charter: "The city manager shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor and city council and may be suspended or removed by a vote of four members of the city council."  

Therefore, without three other members of the city council voting with the mayor, the city manager cannot be terminated, according to the charter.

Powell has personally contacted Sanders to assure him that he is still employed with the city and under contract for the next three years. But "any ultra vires attempt to terminate him would trigger the penalty provisions of that contract," Powell continued. "Because this provision is clear and unambiguous, the Attorney General would not be authorized to give an informal advisory opinion on this subject."

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 earlier Saturday (Jan. 4). 

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