Euharlee council debates organization issues
by Neil B. McGahee
Feb 05, 2014 | 1313 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After a smooth takeoff, newly-elected Euharlee Mayor Dennis Thayer encountered a bit of turbulence at his second City Council meeting last night.

At the January meeting, Thayer said it was time to rebrand — update how the city looks and the way the city presents itself.

“We have the covered bridge and there’s no reason to change that, but our signage, website, stationary, you name it, needs to be updated,” he said.

Thayer suggested the city send a request for proposals (RFP) to marketing firms to get an idea of the cost involved and what type of rebranding they had in mind.

Council member Joseph “Jo-Jo” Turner still seemed skeptical of the idea.

“I’m still not really sure where you’re going with this rebranding,” he said. “I try not to be stuck in the past. This is a new idea and a lot of cities are doing it, but it seems to me that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The council OK’d issuing RFPs for rebranding as long as it didn’t cost anything.

Despite Thayer’s enthusiasm to outsource landscaping crews from private business, he demurred from his previous position and recommended hiring extra city personnel as needed.

But it was a proposal for an organization chart that brought the most pushback from council.

At January’s meeting, Thayer had recommended a new organization chart be revised to better discern which employees answered to which supervisor.

Council member Craig Guyton said he felt the new chart was “directly in line with our city charter,” and made a motion to accept a new chart.

But a second never came.

“Are you talking about day-to-day operations?” council member Steve Worthington asked. “Because according to the charter this ain’t the way it’s set up. It says the employees work at the discretion of the mayor and city council, not the city manager.”

Thayer said that was not the way he read it.

“I think it means that the department heads report to the city manager who in turn answers to the mayor and council,” he said.

Turner said he was concerned that City Manager Trish Sullivan would get lost in the shuffle.

“Trish has always had budget control and control over daily operations,” he said. “And this sounds like it would take it away from her.”

“No, no,” Thayer exclaimed. “That’s not what I just said. Who are they supposed to answer to?”

“They answer to Trish,” Turner replied.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Thayer said. “They answer to Trish. I don’t understand what your argument is. ”

Turner seemed flummoxed and groped for an answer.

“I’m just saying we have a system that works. Why do we want to change it?” he asked.

“But it’s not working,” Thayer said. “You told me yourself that it wasn’t working. One day we sat in your pickup truck and you said it wasn’t working.”

Turner said he was concerned that if an employee had an issue that was bothering them, he didn’t want them to feel that they can’t come and talk to us about it.

Thayer said he didn’t want that either, but that there needs to be a proper process on who to go to in case of a conflict.

“If a person has a problem and goes to anyone on the council and that council member intervenes, it’s not right,” Thayer said. “It undermines the whole process and it borderlines on illegal.”

Council voted to table the issue until the next work session to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. at Euharlee City Hall.