Organization tops Euharlee council debates
by By Jason Lowrey,
Feb 24, 2014 | 523 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Debates concerning Euharlee’s organization chart continued Tuesday night, with two council members expressing themselves at length.

During the Euharlee City Council’s work session, Mayor Dennis Thayer brought a revised organization chart for city employees to the council’s attention. The only change, he said, was the inclusion of the court clerk, which had been omitted from the previous proposed chart.

Council member Steve Worthington then stated he did not support the idea of department heads reporting to the city manager rather than the city council.

“Maybe, and you’re right, that slipped through when we redone our charter. I don’t know how I missed it, because I would never have [voted] with that being put back in our city charter like that,” Worthington said. “They’ve done a great job, but that slipped by me. My problem, my argument, is that I do not understand why and everybody’s where they belong at, and we spend hours interviewing candidates for different department heads to make sure we get the right person to manage that particular department and you’ve got somebody standing over their shoulder, going micromanage the person we hired.

“If you going to let whoever micromanage it, why go through all the [work] and put somebody in there because they’re going to be micromanaged anyway?”

Council member Craig Guyton pointed out the city manager does not operate each department on such a level of detail.

“The city manager’s position, as I would see it, would be to make sure, help the teamwork atmosphere so these departments get along together to get everything done for the city. ... But as it functions inside of the entire city, our city manager manages our city as a whole. ... But it’s got to be running in the same direction,” Guyton said.

Worthington responded, saying city employees’ morale had dropped.

“Oh, I know about the same direction. ... I’ve seen this city right here, in this city of Euharlee, employees’ morale went from where it was the epitome of anybody — every city and municipality in the county of Bartow was envious of the way it run,” Worthington said. “Now it’s at an all-time low and a laughingstock.”

“Currently?” Guyton asked.

Thayer stated that if the council was going to have a discussion about personnel, an open forum was not the circumstance to have such a discussion. Worthington disagreed, saying the people in attendance needed to know what was going on inside of the city.

Thayer stated a policy needed to be put in place to allow employees to air grievances.

“Now, we need to have a policy in place that if there is issues, [if] employees have issues that they have an established way, a grievance process for those issues. ... I think everybody’s in agreement with that. That’s just not done yet. That’s the next step to be done,” he said.

City Manager Trish Sullivan said she was working on a grievance policy, but it was not yet complete.

Council member Joseph Turner later took the opportunity to remark on some thoughts that had been on his mind since the beginning of the year.

“If you all remember on ... whatever our first meeting this year was, I came in here and sit down and the first thing I seen on a stack of papers was something somebody had went off the Internet and published, starting off with a description of an old city that called their mayor Bubba and the last four lines of the paragraph ... anyway, it basically said, ‘Welcome to Toiletville USA,’” Turner said.

Sullivan said she did not know where the document came from. Thayer said he did.

“I know exactly where it came from. I’m the one that printed it off and it was a comparison from an organization out there that gave examples of good cities and bad cities,” he said.

“That’s beside the point,” Turner later said in the work session. “I considered it highly improper. It was an insult to me. Now maybe it wasn’t the way it was meant to come across, because most of our employees have been here for an extended amount of time. ... This city is not broke, and I don’t mean that in money-wise. ... The attitude that it appeared to me the way I took this was this city was just so screwed up, the employees was so incompetent, everything had to be fixed and changed by somebody’s personal idea of what they’d like to see.

“... We have done an excellent job with this city over the years and all of these things that have been thrown out here this first month of being here is like we’ve all been incompetent. Even the employees have been insulted if that’s what the attitude was. That’s what got my buttons pushed.”

Thayer responded.

“If you’re done, I’ll comment on it. This has all been directed at me, but you don’t look at me. ... First of all, you didn’t read the document. The document was a comparison of some of the things that make good quality cities and some of the things that make poor quality cities,” Thayer said. “It had no ... correlation to the city of Euharlee at all. It was just things that look good and things that don’t look good, and it comes back to the whole point that the rating the city of Euharlee is an ‘F’ on amenities.

“This is a great place, we all love living here, but if you think for a second there’s not things that can be improved on or things that don’t need to be fixed, you need to pull your head out of the sand. All right?”

Thayer cited the organizational structure of the city as one example of what needed to be fixed. He said it was unclear who employees are supposed to report to. Turner said he has never had a city employee say they did not know they reported to the city manager on a day-to-day basis. Thayer said he had.

Following the debate and discussion on organization, the council turned toward having what the agenda named “Food Truck Fridays,” a program intended to invite food trucks into downtown Euharlee with accompanying live music. Thayer suggested the council allow for three Fridays over three months to allow the program the chance to bring people to downtown Euharlee. Though the council discussed how the food trucks would be permitted to sell food in the city — whether it was through purchasing a temporary or annual permit — the entire council indicated it supported the idea.

“I think the idea is to get people to come out downtown and mingle,” said council member Ronald Nesbitt.

While discussing the city’s proposed mission statement, the council decided to hold two town hall meetings on the subject. The meetings are scheduled for March 13 at 7 p.m. and March 22 at 9 a.m., with locations to be announced. The proposed strategic plan for the city will likely be discussed during the meetings as well.

In other business, the council:

• was updated on the adoption of international building codes.

• tabled discussion of the proposed city strategic plan.

• had the first reading of a new purchasing policy and procedure.

The next Euharlee City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, at 7 p.m. at city hall.