Nepotism, raise policies on Warner Robins council agenda

chwright@macon.comJuly 13, 2013 


Warner Robins City Council Post 3 Candidate James "Paul" Shealy

JASON VORHEES — Jason Vorhees

WARNER ROBINS -- A raise for city employees may soon require a majority vote, and just about anyone may soon be able to work for the city, according to two amendments City Council is expected to vote on Monday.

One measure could require approval from mayor and council for all raises, eliminating the mayor’s right to unilaterally give raises. The other would eliminate the remaining part of the city’s nepotism policy, allowing relatives of elected and appointed officials to work for the city.

Councilman Paul Shealy said he has spoken with state experts who say eliminating the nepotism policy is part of a statewide trend. He said the biggest consideration for the change is for family members of appointed volunteers on city boards and committees.

“We’ve got over 100 of those positions,” Shealy said, “and they joined these boards and didn’t know (it meant) their family couldn’t get jobs.”

Shealy said the majority of those board and committee members are also long-standing residents who were around at the founding of Warner Robins and whose families have multiple generations living in the city.

In 2011, City Council amended the nepotism policy to allow relatives of department directors to work for the city, as long as they weren’t supervised by the director to whom they are related.

Shealy said the state’s nepotism policy would still maintain some rules against favoritism, such as the mayor’s relatives not being able to take department director positions.

Councilman Mike Daley said the other amendment has been considered since last summer, when council learned of a policy that allows the mayor to give up to 10 percent raises to any city employee without council approval.

The Telegraph reported last month that Mayor Chuck Shaheen has exercised that right in several raises over the past year, including raises for two department directors council had previously declined. Most council members said they did not know about some of the raises.

“I just feel that a single politician should not have the ability to give people raises,” Daley said. “If I was that single politician, I’d rather not have that ability.”

The amendment would require a majority vote among mayor and council for raises, the same as promotions. The language suggests raises that are woven into the existed pay classification plan could still be given. Bryan Fobbus, human resources director, could not be reached for explanation.

Daley emphasized the mayor is part of “the group that has all the powers vested” to run the city. The mayor casts a vote in the event of a tie and is considered a part of City Council.

Also Monday, council will consider a contract with Special Olympics Georgia. According to a memo from the Warner Robins Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group’s board needs an additional $6,250 to pay an annual $19,250 contract for the event. It’s unclear whether the funds are needed to pay debt from a previous event or for the next event.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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