Ordinance challenges mayor’s authority
by David Lazenby
Oct 31, 2010 | 3483 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oakman attorney Charles C. Tatum discusses an ordinance being considered by the town Council. It would take away the mayor’s authority to make hires.
Oakman attorney Charles C. Tatum discusses an ordinance being considered by the town Council. It would take away the mayor’s authority to make hires.
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OAKMAN — Town Councilors were prepared on Saturday to vote on a city ordinance that would transfer a portion of the mayor’s authority to the Council. However the unanimous vote needed to suspend a rule that would allow the vote was thwarted by Mayor Joyce Todd.

Despite Councilor Dennis Welch’s promise to call for a special meeting for Monday if the ordinance was not voted on Saturday, Todd held out, saying she needed more time to examine the ordinance provided to the board on Saturday morning by town attorney Charles C. Tatum.

The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday to vote on the ordinance that removes the mayor’s power to appoint city officers such as Oakman’s certified town clerk, the police chief, the fire chief, the street superintendent and department heads.

Welch, a 14-year veteran of the Council, said in the past, having this authority rest in the hands of Oakman mayors has resulted in in-fighting and costly lawsuits.

Ordinance No. 2010-10-30-1 also gives the head of each department the exclusive right to hire, dismiss and discipline their employees subject to the Council’s approval.

The Council did take action Saturday on employee insurance plans, which are being changed to help the struggling city cope with recent financial woes.

Effective on Dec. 1, city employees will receive a $150 stipend for them to buy insurance in lieu of the city’s contribution to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance policy for the regular full-time workers.

“This stipend will be considered a non-taxable fringe benefit to be used by the employee for health insurance,” stated the resolution, read aloud by Welch at Saturday’s called meeting.

Welch said employees who sign up for a Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance policy suggested by the city will be paying about $150 more per month out of pocket for about the same coverage they currently receive.

Officials said they regretted the move, but felt it was necessary as a result of the city’s financial struggles.

“We’re going from week to week to see if we’ve got money to pay salaries,” said Councilor Pat Blackwell.