Even though at least two Augusta Commission members are calling for the resignation of Fred Russell, the city administrator said Thursday he does not plan to step down.
"They're going to have to fire me," Russell said. "I'm not going to quit for doing something they told me to do."
Commissioner Alvin Mason demanded Russell's resignation Wednesday after learning that the administrator had approved pay increases for 44 employees during the ongoing reorganization of city government. Russell approved the raises last week. Commissioner Bill Lockett also has called for Russell to resign.
The salary increases come at a time when most Augusta employees, including those supervised by elected officials, have endured furlough salary reductions, done without cost-of-living pay increases for two years and watched vacancies remain unfilled.
Those cost-cutting measures were spurred by this year's $9 million operating deficit. Russell said the raises were, too.
"We didn't give raises; we compensated people for additional duties," he said.
The pay increases added up to about $350,000, with the bulk of them in the city's Engineering Department, where 12 people received raises totaling $137,986.
Mason has placed discussion of the raises and reorganization on Tuesday's 5 p.m. commission meeting agenda. Mayor Deke Copenhaver has called for a closed legal meeting to discuss personnel at 4 p.m.
Russell has cited his authority to make salary adjustments of up to 15 percent and reorganize government as outlined in the personnel manual and reorganization plan approved by six of 10 commissioners earlier this year. Mason and Lockett opposed both actions and claim such authority requires an eight-vote majority because it is a change in the city's form of government.