WARNER ROBINS — Residents asked City Council at its Tuesday meeting for answers regarding an investigative audit on city functions but received few.
Among their questions: Has the audit commenced? Who is conducting the audit? Why does former City Clerk Stan Martin appear to have a contract for services with the city?
The answers to the questions depended on who was asked. Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen was the only one who responded to the questions during the meeting. He said he had not spoken with Martin or signed a contract with anyone to conduct the audit.
Following the meeting, City Clerk Alton Mattox said “a gentleman who (residents) named,” has been asking for public records from the city. However, the resolution authorizing the audit did not name a specific person, and he could not say whether anyone had been hired by council.
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Also following the meeting, City Councilman Mike Daley said Martin is working, and he was hired when the vote for the audit was taken.
When reached by phone, City Attorney Jim Elliott said Martin brought a contract down to City Hall, and it was sent to Shaheen’s office. But Elliott said he hasn’t seen the contract.
It’s unclear whether the mayor and council both have the powers to enter into a contract.
“You’re not missing anything because it’s not clear to anybody,” Elliott said.
Martin was fired in December after an investigation into an October 2009 incident in which he and another employee were said to have peeked above ceiling tiles of the mayor’s office looking for guns and money rumored to be kept by the late Mayor Donald Walker. Nothing was found, and although a GBI investigation ensued, no charges were filed.
Two residents at the meeting, Donnie Powell and Dick Walden, said during the comments from the floor portion of the meeting that they had seen a copy of a proposed contract for services from Martin. They said the contract stated the city would be billed $100 per hour, or $800 per day.
Powell said the contract allows Martin to extend it whenever he wants.
“I think there are a number of questions regarding this proposed audit, if it does exist and if it will exist in the future,” Walden said.
Walden also questioned whether there would be two audits. Earlier in the meeting, Shaheen brought up the idea that the University of Georgia’s Carl Institute of Government conducts audits on policies and procedures to see where governments can improve.
“It’s just options,” Shaheen said in response to the question. “I’m not sure about the first audit.”
Also at the meeting, Shaheen addressed the public’s perception of mayor and council.
“We’re going to get better, and it starts with me,” he said.
Shaheen said he and council are working together behind the scenes, unseen by the public eye. For example, the mayor and council have been working closely on a new law enforcement center.
They are close to making an announcement, possibly as soon as Friday, some council members said.
Councilman Bob Wilbanks was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Also at the meeting, City Council:
n Gave the first reading of the millage rate, which is to be set at 9.261 mills. The millage rate is expected to be adopted at the next council meeting;
n Approved two annexation ordinances for unincorporated islands contiguous with the city;
n Reclassified positions within code enforcement and the fire department;
n Approved a laundry list of purchasing bids; and
n Approved renewing the contract of Gallagher Benefit Consulting Services, which works with the city’s benefits.
To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.