All city pay raises need council approval, Warner Robins officials decide Monday

Relatives of board members may now work for city

chwright@macon.comJuly 15, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The mayor can no longer give raises without council agreeing to them first, according to a Monday night vote.

“Now we’re getting to be more and more a council form of government, taking more authority away from the mayor,” said Mayor Chuck Shaheen. “Mayoral candidates need to know that.”

City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance changing a policy that allowed the mayor to unilaterally give raises. Council also approved an ordinance to allow relatives of city board members to work for the city, as well as the purchase of a new armored truck.

Until the change, the mayor was able to give up to 10 percent raises to any city employee without council approval. The Telegraph found Shaheen had exercised that right at least 10 times over the past year, but he said he never abused his power.

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

Shaheen said the new policy will “slow down progress.”

“Now you’re going to have to get four votes every time someone wants a pay raise,” Shaheen said.

On the nepotism policy change, council approved an amended version of what was originally proposed. Councilman Paul Shealy had wanted to eliminate the policy altogether.

Last year, City Council amended it to allow department directors’ family members to work for the city. Shealy wanted to now allow relatives of boards, authorities and elected officials.

“We’re looking at more than 100 people who have volunteered (on boards) to do things for our city, to commit themselves to our city,” Shealy said. “Well, the nepotism says that none of their relatives can work for the city, just like elected officials.”

The city has more than a dozen boards and authorities. Shealy’s colleagues agreed relatives of all those board members should be able to work for the city but not relatives of elected officials.

“We just don’t need to open that can of worms,” said Councilman Mike Davis.

Shealy said he agrees with council’s decision but still thinks the nepotism policy no longer serves a purpose.

Council has nothing to do with hiring anyway, he said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, council unanimously approved a $250,000 armored vehicle for the police department, though it was not approved in the fiscal 2013 budget.

Shaheen said during his comments that the truck allows Warner Robins to work on “a different strategy to fight crime.”

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

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