Houston & Peach

City administrator issue draws large crowd to council meeting

Mayor Randy Toms talks about chain of command problems

A discussion on whether the city needs an administrator promoted Mayor Randy Toms to talk about issues with chain of command in the city.
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A discussion on whether the city needs an administrator promoted Mayor Randy Toms to talk about issues with chain of command in the city.

An issue that was not on the agenda drew a large crowd to Monday’s Warner Robins City Council meeting.

More than 100 people showed up for an impromptu public hearing on whether the city should have a city administrator.

Councilman Tim Thomas began the discussion by stating there had been a lot of talk in the community about what the council was considering and he wanted to clear it up.

He said the council is not looking at reducing the power or the salary of Mayor Randy Toms, but he said the city has grown too large not to have a city administrator. He explained that unlike a city manager form of government, which does take power away from the mayor, a city administrator form of government would provide a full-time person to assist the mayor in running the city.

“We are not reducing anybody’s powers,” he said.

Thomas also said he wants to make sure the city can pay for it before he will support it. He said he hopes the council will vote on the issue by July 1, when the fiscal year begins.

Councilman Chuck Shaheen said Warner Robins is the largest city in the state without a city administrator.

“We need a city administrator to help us run our government more efficiently,” Shaheen said.

Toms said the current problem with the city is that it does not follow “unity of command,” which means that each person reports to one supervisor.

“When they have to answer to seven, they don’t know who to answer to,” he said. “That’s one big problem we have in Warner Robins is that nobody knows who to answer to.”

Toms said the job of the council, which has six members, is to set policy and that the “day-to-day operations are to be run by the mayor.”

Toms said if the city does not fix that issue, then having a city administrator will make no difference.

He opened the floor to the audience and many spoke. Several were pastors. Some comments were supportive of the mayor and protecting his powers, and some expressed support for a city administrator.

“I believe having a city administrator would help us focus on reducing crime and increasing our enterprise fund,” said Harvey Bee, bishop of Christian Fellowship Church. “It would help us run a more efficient administration for the citizens of Warner Robins.”

Some spoke against the fact that the city planned to vote on having a referendum in November’s election asking people whether they favored allowing backyard chickens. The speakers said the council should be focusing on more important priorities.

When that issue came up in the council meeting, a motion to approve it by Thomas died for lack of a second.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1