Augusta Commission to discuss raises, Russell

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Augusta Commission members will examine the possibility of taking back the retroactive pay increases awarded to 44 city employees by City Administrator Fred Russell as they consider whether to keep Russell employed during a meeting at 5 p.m. today.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

Last week, the 44 employees’ paychecks included not just their new salary amount, but also the amount they would have earned had the raises gone into effect May 2, according to Human Resources Director Rod Powell.

The raises infuriated several commissioners, who called for Russell’s job upon learning about the pay increases last week.

“I do know what has been done is illegal,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said of the retroactive pay increases. “If general counsel found a way around that, I don’t know. I expect to find out tomorrow.”

Lockett, who joined Commissioner Alvin Mason in demanding Russell’s job last week, said he received numerous phone calls and e-mails from constituents outraged by the increases that Russell approved.

“I’m disappointed with his performance, and especially disappointed that the only people they feel are relevant are those that are close to him,” Lockett said.

The pay increases – some as much as 15 per­cent – affected 12 employees in the city’s Engineering De­partment; 14 in Finance; seven in En­vironmental Services; 11 in Rec­reation, Parks and Facilities; one in Administration; and one in Utilities, and included raises for four department heads.

Russell has said that each department head negotiated the pay increases with him and that all were associated with the ongoing government restructuring previously approved by the commission.

“That’s what they were promised when they took over the new jobs,” Powell said. “They went into the job and started doing the work and weren’t being compensated.”

Russell offered little comment about whether he would remain employed after today’s meeting. Mayor Deke Copenhaver has requested a 4 p.m. legal meeting to discuss “personnel,” and Mason has placed a discussion on the rationale and methodology used for the pay increases on the agenda.

“I think I’ve got a lot to continue to offer the community,” Russell said.

Commissioner Joe Bowles said he expected the commission to evaluate each of the 44 employees given raises to determine whether the raises were warranted, and that his decision on Russell’s future hinged on showing actual savings from the reorganization plan.

“We’ve seen the increases; it’s just time to see the savings,” Bowles said. “We’re going to have to get something very, very soon because this hurrying up and waiting is getting old for a lot of us.”

Commissioner Matt Aitken said the raises remain a “morale killer” but said he hadn’t decided about Russell.

“It seems like our city, we’ve stalled, and I don’t know the real reason why we’ve stalled our progress. Is it the commission, the administrator? I’m still trying to sort some of this out.”

Comments (34) Add comment
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Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 08/15/11 - 08:07 pm
0
0
Matt Aitken, I wouldnt be

Matt Aitken, I wouldnt be admitting that you have no idea whats wrong with the city. Free PR advice. Dont mention it.

404Law
226
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404Law 08/15/11 - 08:13 pm
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I’d be interested in knowing

I’d be interested in knowing the general counsel’s plausible account interpretation for awarding retroactive pay increases. Talk about pulling a rabbit out the hat. Everyone here is closely following this…

Riverman1
110693
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Riverman1 08/15/11 - 08:30 pm
0
0
I'm still tryin to figure how

I'm still tryin to figure how which Commissioners will vote to fire Russell. Bowles and Aitken appear uncommitted.

jackrussell
219
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jackrussell 08/15/11 - 08:36 pm
0
0
The article the other day

The article the other day stated county employees haven't had a cost of living increase since 2008. Seems like Russell could have FIRST taken care of that, maybe a 3% cola raise for ALL employees before doling out such outrageous raises to a few people. On top of no cola increases in those years, each year the county has raised our insurance costs. Employees are making less now than they did 3 years ago for the same job! Maybe county employees should STRIKE. Let's see what happens when Russell and his big wig friends making big bucks have to do REAL work!

404Law
226
Points
404Law 08/15/11 - 08:43 pm
0
0
I was told earlier today that

I was told earlier today that the votes aren’t there right now (6 to 4 on racial lines). A lot of this has to do with Brigham reaching out to a ‘special someone’ on Friday evening to express his worry about the implications of all this with respect to reorganization and pending litigation. Sadly, the gang of six have decided to double-down.

Riverman1
110693
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Riverman1 08/15/11 - 08:49 pm
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0
404Law, that's what I

404Law, that's what I figured. So this is much ado about nothing?

Riverman1
110693
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Riverman1 08/15/11 - 08:53 pm
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404Law, be careful for what

404Law, be careful for what you wish. If you are successful in getting rid of Russell it's going to have to be with one of the slash and burn commissioners helping. They are going to bring in someone who is going to cut Augusta government in ways the Democrats there don't want.

You know how the talk now is a temporary outsider should be brought in to rape and pillage county government like Atilla the Hun. Do the Democrats want that?

404Law
226
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404Law 08/15/11 - 09:00 pm
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Well stated, Riverman1

Well stated, Riverman1

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/15/11 - 10:15 pm
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If you are against secret

If you are against secret meetings behind closed doors and a renegade city administrator handing out raises to "select" employees like there were candy then show up tomorrow at the commission meeting at 5pm in Green.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/15/11 - 10:20 pm
0
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Did anyone hear Matt Aitken

Did anyone hear Matt Aitken on the radio this afternoon? Did he think he was going to a Dodgeball tournament? Because he sure was dodging a lot of questions. He didn't answer not one question directly. Not one. 45 mins on the radio and I still could not figure out one position that Mr Aitken held on anything.

Privy
106
Points
Privy 08/15/11 - 10:25 pm
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0
What about the employees that

What about the employees that were dismissed that were doing more then their job duties required that were never compensated?

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/15/11 - 10:26 pm
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I say the public needs to

I say the public needs to call Commissioners Brigham, Smith, Bowles, Aitken, Guilfoyle, and Jackson and express their displeasure. There is NO excuse for this, unless they are trying to play politics. Just a few days ago Bowles was calling Russell's actions "outrageous" .. how quickly they change their tune. This is your cabal politics at work Augusta. Are you happy?

SlapShot2
0
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SlapShot2 08/15/11 - 10:27 pm
0
0
Fred will still hold his

Fred will still hold his position of City Administrator at the end of the day on Tuesday. I cant wait to see these boards go crazy tomorrow night and all the off base comments and less than accurate remarks.

Privy
106
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Privy 08/15/11 - 10:29 pm
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The reason the city has

The reason the city has stalled is that the commissioners, administartor, human resources, department directors, assistant directors are not working together for the city but for their own agendas.
It is not just the one person but all of the above fault.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/15/11 - 10:50 pm
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slapshot2.. spoken like a

slapshot2.. spoken like a true member of the cabal.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/15/11 - 10:56 pm
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Thanks Joe for your

Thanks Joe for your perspective

showboat
413
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showboat 08/15/11 - 11:53 pm
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The gang of six lead by Jery
Unpublished

The gang of six lead by Jery Brigham, if they think that Russell is right he willo be in augusta a long time. Don't want the black gang to prove that the were wrong to vote for Russell plan to save money. JERRY WILL SIT IN TWO CHAIRS TOMORROW AND VOTE NO!!!!

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/16/11 - 12:04 am
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0
showboat... Jerry could take

showboat... Jerry could take up all six chairs.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/16/11 - 12:54 am
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0
wear your Green!

wear your Green!

Little Lamb
53073
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Little Lamb 08/16/11 - 07:56 am
0
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Privy wrote: What about the

Privy wrote:

What about the employees that were dismissed that were doing more then their job duties required that were never compensated?

Well, in Fred (What, me worry?) Russell's world, we should mail them severence checks as raises on their back pay. It's not Fred's money. It's someone else's. They won't mind.

fastz28girl
7
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fastz28girl 08/16/11 - 08:27 am
0
0
I SAY GET RID OF FRED

I SAY GET RID OF FRED RUSSELL...HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GONE A LONG TIME AGO....THAT CUT IN PAYROLL COULD MEAN A GREAT INCREASE FOR THE PEOPLE THAT ARE REALLY DOING THE WORK.

Little Lamb
53073
Points
Little Lamb 08/16/11 - 08:33 am
0
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Those who have read my posts

Those who have read my posts know I think Russell should have been let go long before his arrogant abuse of his newly-granted authority. That being said, I can understand the reluctance of some commissioners to fire him today.

But I cannot understand why the Commission will not revoke or rescind the raises today!

It should be a no brainer. Stop the bleeding first. Worry about the cause of the bleeding later.

Riverman1
110693
Points
Riverman1 08/16/11 - 08:35 am
0
0
LL said, "But I cannot

LL said, "But I cannot understand why the Commission will not revoke or rescind the raises today!"

Now THAT I totally agree with.

showboat
413
Points
showboat 08/16/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
Jerry could take the full
Unpublished

Jerry could take the full room and let the comm.it in the hall way!!!!

JohnScott213
10
Points
JohnScott213 08/16/11 - 08:48 am
0
0
I'm not sure Mr. Russell did

I'm not sure Mr. Russell did anything illegal. He was simply using the power given to him by the commission. It sounds like typical micro-managing by the commission, as far as their review of each of the pay raises and whether or not they were warranted. I mean, seriously, why give someone that kind of power if you're going to act all perturbed at his decisions and then call for his resignation once your constituents start raising sand? How he does his job should be addressed in a yearly performance review, and then determined at that time whether or not to continue with his service (exceptions should be made for egregious or criminal acts, of course). Don't get me wrong, I completely disagree with Mr. Russell's wisdom (or lack thereof). It is the wrong time for raises, and with the way the economy is looking, the right time is not in the near future. The raises should be rescinded, in my opinion, but Mr. Russell needs to man-up and make that decision.

Pandalover
0
Points
Pandalover 08/16/11 - 08:48 am
0
0
I remain outraged at this

I remain outraged at this whole situation. It makes no sense and is highly unfair to the rest of the employees who have not had a raise in years and continue to have furlough pay reductions taken out of their pay. Its a slap in our faces. If they have money for raises then the rest of us need a little something too. It should be a no brainer for all the commissioners and mayor. Then again this is Richmond County.

bubbasauce
32545
Points
bubbasauce 08/16/11 - 09:04 am
0
0
That's right, Augusta and

That's right, Augusta and Mr.Russell seem to think they are in Washington, D.C. with an unlimited expense account on taxpayers expense. Way to go Augusta, bankrupt us too.

Willow Bailey
20606
Points
Willow Bailey 08/16/11 - 09:27 am
0
0
Take Back the Day. If the RCC

Take Back the Day.

If the RCC doesn't rescind the raises and work towards balancing the city's budget, they all need to be tossed out of office along with Russell.

Brad Owens
5200
Points
Brad Owens 08/16/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
Fred will not be fired and

Fred will not be fired and this will not end up being about much at all.

I said on here last week that he was not going anywhere because there was not six votes to fire him.

The votes just are not there, besides, they cannot allow Mason a win now can they?

Slapshot., I would like you to verfiy what I just wrote, you know the votes are not and have not been there for firing Fred.

When I use to take stuff down there to get passed for the DAP, we had to count our six votes first.

I think what we are seeing is the begining of the next mayoral campaign really.

Anyone agree?

I see Mason running, does anyone else see that?

Brad

harley_52
30740
Points
harley_52 08/16/11 - 11:45 am
0
0
Unfortunately, Willow,

Unfortunately, Willow, "tossed out" could cost millions of dollars. It seems the RCC is in the habit of cleaning up their ineptitude by paying huge "packages" to employees to get them to resign. That is a very bad (and very expensive) way to exercise leadership and management. As in the case of most government expenses, however, since it's your money (not theirs) they will use to pay off their mismanagement, they're all too happy to do it.

If Fred broke the law he should be FIRED. If he didn't break the law, but did something the RCC doesn't like, they should warn him, change his job description, or whatever is necessary to make sure he doesn't do it again.

I don't know all the facts yet, but it seems to me he did something they had given him permission to do and now they don't like it.

As for the raises, they can probably be rescinded, I'm not sure of the law, but as for taking back money already legally paid (if that's what it was) they're asking for law suits if they try to get it back.

Just my two cents.

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