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Augusta Commission approves budget resolution, personnel policy changes

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Commissioner Bill Lockett’s “disgust” at the way an agenda item to amend Augusta’s new personnel manual was presented turned to outrage Tuesday when General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said the motion also included a supplement handed out at the start of the meeting.

Lockett, who immediately called to adjourn, and Commissioner Alvin Mason stood up and left the commission meeting, with Commissioner J.R. Hatney following as a vote to adjourn failed. The remaining commissioners then voted to approve the amendments, as well as a resolution authorizing the 2012 budget.

Toward the end of the meeting, the commission approved a budget resolution that, among other things, would eliminate about 34 positions for a $1 million savings.

Calling himself the “nitpicker-in-chief” during a work session last week when most of the personnel manual changes were discussed, Lockett wanted them to pass through the Administrative Services Committee he chairs before they went to the full commission, but Commissioner Joe Jackson requested they go on Tuesday’s meeting agenda instead.

“I can’t legislate the behavior of grown folk,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said to Lockett when the commissioner asked why the amendments appeared on Tuesday’s agenda. Copenhaver later broke a 5-5 tie to pass the changes.

“There is no controversial items in this agenda item,” Jackson said.

The changes approved include adjustments setting the rate by which firefighters accrue and use sick and annual leave, and a rule against employees making contact with personnel board members prior to their employment hearings before the board.

They also remove the “generational careers” exception to the city’s nepotism policy from the fire department, and limit the amount of severance pay awarded to top city staffers who are fired without cause.

The maximum amount of severance, which in the document approved by six commissioners in March had been two years’ salary for an employee employed 24 years, drops to a maximum of six months’ pay in the changes approved Tuesday.

All the late additions presented by MacKenzie on Tuesday deal with employee driving, including standards of review of motor vehicle records and policies for dealing with vehicle accidents and driving violations.

Probably more controversial, but receiving no discussion before its approval at the tail end of the tumultuous commission meeting, was a 2012 budget resolution requiring all departments, excluding law enforcement, to make 2 percent to 8 percent cuts on a sliding scale based on their sizes.

The cuts would hit the largest city departments such as recreation and E-911 the hardest, requiring each to trim more than $300,000 during 2012.

The plan also calls for the elimination of approximately 34 positions whose salaries and benefits total $1 million. The 34 positions, discussed during last week's work session, make up about 1.3 percent of the city workforce.

The approved plan dips into savings and capital outlays as it also authorized the addition of a new mayor’s economic development position, three public defenders and a deputy coroner, requires no employee furlough days and gives all city employees a small raise.

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404Law
226
Points
404Law 11/15/11 - 11:01 pm
0
0
blatantly corrupt and plainly

blatantly corrupt and plainly rogue. the good ole boys pulled a fast one tonight. i give augusta a 50/50 chance of filing bankruptcy by june 2012.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 11/16/11 - 01:08 am
0
0
9-1-1 is understaffed,

9-1-1 is understaffed, underfunded, does not have an adequate number of incoming emergency lines, is not properly handling emergency call outs to citizens when emergencies occur, etc. Those who do work there can not handle the call volume...listen to the tape of Deputy JD Paugh or the recent fire on 9th Ave. instead of 9th Street - these cuts will costs lives, period.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/16/11 - 02:10 am
0
0
If they could weed out all of

If they could weed out all of the stupid people calling for non-emergencies would it help?

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 11/16/11 - 06:20 am
0
0
Oh me oh my...what fools can

Oh me oh my...what fools can do with a little power....Augusta NEEDS & wants more tax paying citizens BUT with every stroke of the pen they send them running away.........more crime will send decent law-abiding people into another county...why is that so hard for some to grasp....

wcr250
71
Points
wcr250 11/16/11 - 06:51 am
0
0
Good Job, Finally getting

Good Job, Finally getting smarter

Brad Owens
4429
Points
Brad Owens 11/16/11 - 07:03 am
0
0
It is funny how all the

It is funny how all the powerful white folks were saying the "fears" of the "Black" community were unfounded when Matt was elected. They assured them that things would not be shoved down their throats by the six vote white majority.

These guys are setting back racial trust and relations in our county 20 years with this non-sense.

What is wrong with putting changes back through the process?

Why did these changes have to be made NOW NOW NOW!?!?!?!?

I also know that if you take something down there, they DEMAND it goes through committee to be considered, but now that Bill Lockett (he is "black" in case you did not know) is the Chair and would not make it easy for them, that seems not to be the case on these items.

How soon we all forget that it was these very changes that allowed Fred to give all those retro raises.

I am glad to see that Deke has spoken up and shown the African-American community where he stands at last, which is where he has always stood...with the CABAL, and not with them.

Not surprised at all,

Brad

blues550
376
Points
blues550 11/16/11 - 08:28 am
0
0
Just plain comical.
Unpublished

Just plain comical.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 08:36 am
0
0
Susan McCord reported: The

Susan McCord reported:

The [budget] plan also calls for the elimination of approximately 34 positions whose salaries and benefits total $1 million. The 34 positions, discussed during last week's work session, make up about 1.3 percent of the city workforce.

Are these 34 living, breathing bodies or are they merely vacant positions? In theory, abolishing 34 positions that are not filled will help make a budget look good, but it does nothing to trim actual fat, to reduce actual expenditures. Hopefully the department heads will not start sneaking new positions back into their departments.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 11/16/11 - 08:38 am
0
0
Cut spending does not mean

Cut spending does not mean cut spending here and create new spending there. Cut spending. Cut spending. Cut spending. This is not about race or cabals or ignorance.....it is about the business of doing as much as you can with less. The departments are filled with jobs that are redundant and purposeless. Make the departments fit and fill a need, don't create another make work job for the rest of us to support. Spending is a culture and it has got to show restraint NOW. Yesterday your taxes were due and most have been paid. Add it up, and that is all you get to spend.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 08:46 am
0
0
Paragraph 2: Lockett, who

Paragraph 2:

Lockett, who immediately called to adjourn, and Commissioner Alvin Mason stood up and left the commission meeting, with Commissioner J.R. Hatney following as a vote to adjourn failed. The remaining commissioners then voted to approve the amendments, as well as a resolution authorizing the 2012 budget.

Paragraph 5:

Copenhaver later broke a 5-5 tie to pass the changes [presumably changes to the personnel manual – LL].

I guess the three members who left the meeting had a change of heart and snuck back in to vote NO, NO, NO.

Now Little Lamb has no problem with a legislator voting NO. In fact, I disagree with most new laws and I would vote NO also. But here the five commissioners plus the mayor righted a wrong in voting to make changes to the personnel manual, especially in the matter of the severance packages.

I would like to know why Bill Lockett, Corey Johnson, Alvin Mason and Johnny Hatney wanted to keep the golden parachutes in the manual?

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 11/16/11 - 09:42 am
0
0
"I would like to know why
Unpublished

"I would like to know why Bill Lockett, Corey Johnson, Alvin Mason and Johnny Hatney wanted to keep the golden parachutes in the manual?"

...............LL many could reply to that, but would most likely be censored. ...ahhh I long for the good old days when PC was not destroying our right to speak the truth.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 11/16/11 - 10:29 am
0
0
I hear the word'" cabal"

I hear the word'" cabal" brought up very often. I wonder if such a thing exists or if it is thrown out just to stir the pot. Maybe someone who is more knowledgeable that I am can tell me who makes up the cabal and give me some evidence that it really exists.

vbost
0
Points
vbost 11/16/11 - 10:33 am
0
0
It doesn't matter what color

It doesn't matter what color you are when all you see is red!! These people were elected to serve in the taxpayers best interest and they storm out without voting on the budget. PATHETIC!!! To make matters worse, one of the other news outlets interviewed Aitken and he was "surprised" that the budget called for layoffs. SERIOUSLY!!!! Did he sleep through the committee meetings or miss all the talk in the media? The Mayor and the commissioners need to be kicked out of office so we can end this reign of backward ignorance that has shackled us for so long.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 11/16/11 - 10:41 am
0
0
Didn't read where they said

Didn't read where they said Lockett or the other commissioners wanted the golden parachutes to remain. I think the issue was following the procedures. Brad's comments were on point trust goes a long way and after watching Aitken's comments on news 12 he's just clueless.

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 11/16/11 - 10:55 am
0
0
The numbers will soon change

The numbers will soon change and we can hear the line already "two wrongs don't make it right." One of the key issues here is that the committees can be rendered null and void when those with the six desire to bring an item to vote. I am sure Lockett and the desenters are not opposed to striking done the severance package but why could it not go to committee.
I have seen a lot of deer in my headlights but none like I saw last night when Chris Thomas asked Matt Aitken if he realized he had voted to eliminate 34 jobs. He was totally bumfumbbled. Classic case of go along with the THEY tell you to do.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 11/16/11 - 11:20 am
0
0
Vbost I find it interesting

Vbost I find it interesting that you state it was pathetic. Policy and procedure weren't followed to allow these things to happen but why aren't you people questioning the fact these items should have been addressed when the manual was brought fourth for the original vote.

Brad Owens
4429
Points
Brad Owens 11/16/11 - 11:48 am
0
0
Bill and Al were the only

Bill and Al were the only ones in the room that questioned the entire process and exactly WHAT was trying to be accomplished by it. Seems they were vindicated by Fred's actions, I mean why is anyone questioning their judgment now?

GodisSoGood
892
Points
GodisSoGood 11/16/11 - 11:49 am
0
0
I take issue to the removal

I take issue to the removal of the "generational careers" exception for the nepotism policy. Augusta needs to do some research on fire departments further north, where many of the departments employee generation after generation of firefighters in the same family.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 12:48 pm
0
0
Sure, the normal way

Sure, the normal way ordinances and resolutions get introduced in a commission meeting is by way of committee. But there is no violation of the city "charter" nor of any ordinance to have a single commissioner introduce a matter on the agenda. Lockett is just throwing a temper tantrum.

Lockett's NO vote on Jackson's motion to amend the personnel manual (which was a package that included decreasing the severance payments to a more reasonable level than the golden one that Russell and MacKenzie put in the original manual) might have been a "protest vote" in his mind; but it had the effect of saying he was in favor of Russell's golden parachute.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 12:51 pm
0
0
double standard wrote Why

double standard wrote

Why aren't you people questioning the fact these items should have been addressed when the manual was brought fourth for the original vote?

Maybe it's like the Obamacare bill. You have to pass the bill to find out what's in it!

Sweet son
10406
Points
Sweet son 11/16/11 - 01:07 pm
0
0
When Lockett and the three

When Lockett and the three amigos don't get their way they just take themselves out of the game and even off the field. Hope their constituents are proud of them for walking out. Real manly thing to do, especially for an elected official!

Brad Owens
4429
Points
Brad Owens 11/16/11 - 02:30 pm
0
0
LL, It should have come

LL, It should have come through the committee process.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 11/16/11 - 02:31 pm
0
0
You can play dumb and turn a
Unpublished

You can play dumb and turn a blind eye to the "white majority rules" in Augusta, or you can THINK RATIONALLY and not "RACIALLY" and see that the white power structure in Augusta is the REAL PROBLEM HERE. Who the heck can trust these men anyway? History tells us otherwise.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/11 - 02:44 pm
0
0
There may have been a

There may have been a time-critical aspect to Jackson's motion, Brad. I don't know and the commissioners are not talking. With the holidays coming up, there won't be too many chances for complex ordinances and resolutions before the New Year.

It is interesting to see how Jackson is moving up in stature. He appears to be learning that you go out and get your six votes, then introduce your motion.

Alvin Mason has not learned that yet. He ended up with egg on his face when he moved to fire Fred Russell (two times) and didn't have the six votes.

Bill Lockett is still trying to figure out what the motions mean. Maybe when he gets the hang of that he might move on toward making his own motions.

By the way, your 10:48 post above is a good one. You are correct that Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett asked questions when Fred (What, me worry?) Russell was strutting his new Policies, Personnel, and Procedures manual. But their questions sounded like those lame questions asked in Senate hearings — all fluff and no backbone.

Riverman1
84007
Points
Riverman1 11/16/11 - 02:47 pm
0
0
LL, I'm not sure that

LL, I'm not sure that analysis of Comissioners as if they were Congressmen or something works. There are other, real, forces at work in Augusta, Georgia, River City, USA.

Riverman1
84007
Points
Riverman1 11/16/11 - 02:53 pm
0
0
ILove makes a good point.

ILove makes a good point. White government in a majority black county creates problems. Keep in mind, Richmond Cty is much more black than most realize because the Ft. Gordon population figures are included in the census and most of these folks don't vote or pay taxes.

But to turn things around, it is the big white factories out in south Augusta that are really throwing lots into the revenue pot. Whatever black person who finally emerges as the leader needs to protect those businesses that pay the bills.

belle
307
Points
belle 11/16/11 - 02:55 pm
0
0
Congratulations to Bill
Unpublished

Congratulations to Bill Lockett for continuing to hold the commission accountable for following proper procedure. He doesn't vote no because he isn't necessarily against the item on the table, just the inadequate way it is processed. We expect our children to follow the rules, why not our representatives??

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 11/16/11 - 03:10 pm
0
0
Scooby...the CABAL is a well

Scooby...the CABAL is a well known group of individuals (and families) who either own or control most of what happens in this city. Generally from the background and in some cases from within city government. And it seems they "own" certain people as well.They consider themselves to be "above" the rest of us, the great unwashed and would love nothing more than to be able to continue business as usual as they have for so very long in this city. I won't mention names but if you keep up anything relating to "developers" or public policy you already know the names of the major players. Usually they are the ones decrying the lack of "progress" . Which means they aren't able to hide shady deals that benefit them and their pals.

Riverman1
84007
Points
Riverman1 11/16/11 - 03:16 pm
0
0
Scooby, in regards to the

Scooby, in regards to the Cabal, there was a reason Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman, hanging out on the SC beach, was made to shake the sand out of his shorts by his inlaws and come here and be mayor.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 11/16/11 - 03:32 pm
0
0
Shake the sand out of his

Shake the sand out of his shorts? I wish I could have been a witness to that. As skinny as he is what kept his shorts from falling to his knees?

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