State reps await word on Warner Robins proposal to create city manager

Telegraph staffFebruary 14, 2013 

ATLANTA -- State representatives say they aren’t moving on a possible change to Warner Robins’ city charter, which would create a city manager and make the mayor part time, until they hear from City Council.

“We’ll wait for a resolution from City Council,” said House Minority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, who represents part of Warner Robins.

O’Neal and Warner Robins Republican state Rep. Willie Talton said council members need to first decide among themselves whether to request the change. But they differed on how many council members need to agree to the idea.

Councilman Mike Brashear, backed by Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins and Councilman Mike Daley, proposed this week to change the city charter to include a city manager responsible for day-to-day operations. Brashear and Robbins said they would make the mayor’s position part-time in that case.

The state Legislature ratifies dozens of city government rule changes every year touching municipalities all over the state. Usually, such bills are subject to little debate and are filed and passed at the request of local governments.

But if Warner Robins is divided over the change, it can make passage in Atlanta slow or impossible.

“I kind of let them know I expect a unanimous resolution,” O’Neal said. “My policy has been to honor unanimous resolutions.”

That may not happen unless Councilmen Mike Davis and Daron Lee change their minds. They both said this week they’re not in favor of changing the charter this year. Councilman Paul Shealy has not been reached for comment on the subject.

Davis said he’d only vote for the resolution if residents overwhelmingly agree with the idea.

Brashear said town hall meetings will be scheduled this coming week and the following week. He wants council to vote on a resolution at its March 4 meeting to have a decision before the November mayoral elections.

The Legislature’s annual session will run until a date yet to be set, likely in April. If nothing has passed by then, Warner Robins must wait until January 2014 for another try.

Talton said he’s willing to accept a majority vote.

“I don’t feel like we need a unanimous decision,” he said.

Mayor Chuck Shaheen has said he agrees the city needs a manager. However, he wants it to be a city operations manager on the mayor’s staff and for the mayor’s position to remain a full-time job.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685. To contact writer Maggie Lee, e-mail her at mlee@macon.com.

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