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.

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.”

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showboat
336
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showboat 08/16/11 - 01:14 pm
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0
Willow u are right on!!!!
Unpublished

Willow u are right on!!!!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/16/11 - 01:31 pm
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Well if the gang of six keep

Well if the gang of six keep Fred around after this outrage then Mr Mason should have tons of ammo to blaze right into the mayor's chair. I believe the public will side heavily with Mason on this and Russell has already said he plans more raises. I suggest everyone call the Gang of Six. Commissioners Bowles, Brigham, Jackson, Guilfoyle, Smith, and Aitken and ask them how they can justify keeping Fred Russell around after this? We have two deputy city admins making over six figures, surely one or both of them could step up and take the reins while a serach for a permanent replacement is conducted. These commissioners need to answer to the people.. they act like they are above the public. The real reason for their change of heart is that they couldn't get Steve Szablewski (sp) to come in and take the job.. last week they were for firring but now that they can't get the guy they want to replace him immediately they have changed their tune. I guess principles don't matter. It's your call Augusta. Are you going to hold these commissioners' feet to the fire?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 08/16/11 - 01:34 pm
0
0
and isn't it ironic that this

and isn't it ironic that this same gang of six voted in favor of tasking Fred Russell to create a "creative" public financing package for Deke's ballpark. So I guess these commissioners don't have much of a problem with wasting the taxpayers money anyway. I'd especially like to hear how Mr Libertaian Joe Bowles can justify his about face from last week.

TheOneJustice
52
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TheOneJustice 08/16/11 - 01:37 pm
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I say if the city does not
Unpublished

I say if the city does not rescind the raises, I think the city workers who did not get a raise will go on strike. Fred Russell needs to go he has nothing to show for in Augusta, but screwing the budget up and increasing health care cost for employees and furlough days. If people on here new how it felt to have that happen to you and find out that other city workers were getting raises up to half their salary then you'd be upset to. Fred Russell was the wrong person for the job now stop taking up for him.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/16/11 - 02:14 pm
0
0
Harley 52, IF Russell used

Harley 52, IF Russell used the "gift" money to pay for gastric by-pass for an employee after Steve Sheppard told him it was illegal and to give it back, he has broken the law. As to the raises, he may have the authority to do many things, but it doesn't make it right to do so, when it is totally against the goals of the city and what makes financial sense.

Furloughing and raising, is like cheating and tithing, they don't match up.

As to pay offs with the golden packages, RC either has an inadequate legal department, lazy management or a lot of people with serious skeletons in their closet.

P.S.Let us also remember retro raises are illegal.

harley_52
23465
Points
harley_52 08/16/11 - 03:10 pm
0
0
Willow Bailey, if he broke

Willow Bailey, if he broke the law he should be fired. No package, no resignation. Fired. If he didn't break the law, it's another matter. As to the retro-raises the only other thing that might mitigate that charge is if ARC routinely awards retro-raises, he can't be singled out for what amounts to ARC "policy," even if it is technically illegal.

Bottom line....It sounds like the Commission is more the problem than Fred. They hired him. They set the rules for him. They are responsible for oversight of his job performance.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/16/11 - 04:00 pm
0
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harley52, we aren't far apart

harley52, we aren't far apart here. As to Commission hiring him, agreed. Rules set; there are never enough rules to offset someone bent on doing their own agenda. Responsible for overseeing his job performance, I think that is what Mr. Mason and Lockett are trying to do now.

They continue to reek of "cronyism".

hockeymann
226
Points
hockeymann 08/16/11 - 06:12 pm
0
0
No worse than the JB Arena

No worse than the JB Arena Coliseum Authority pushing to spend money
on skyboxes, a worthless venture if there ever was one, second only to
building an unneeded baseball stadium. The Coliseum Authority needs to
repair the JB Arena equipment we already are supposed to have..Start w/ the woeful sound system, the broken scoreboard overhead that's gone now, and the shaky steps at each end with no handrails.Heads need to roll at the JB Arena. Start w/Monty Jones,
who seems to ignore maintenance.

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