Originally created 08/01/98

Todd: Hicks unqualified to be director of utilities



Augusta Commissioner Moses Todd called for the resignation of Utilities Director Max Hicks on Friday on grounds he does not have the educational requirements to hold the job and for what Mr. Todd called other "management deficiencies."

The city's current job description for the utilities director calls for minimum requirements of a bachelors degree in civil or environmental engineering, which Mr. Hicks does not hold, Mr. Todd said.

Mr. Hicks has been a licensed professional engineer in Georgia since 1972, but a college degree is not a requirement for that.

Mr. Hicks declined comment Friday on Mr. Todd's request.

But Mayor Larry Sconyers said Mr. Hicks does meet the requirements, no matter what Mr. Todd said.

"Max has everything required," he said. "The (commission) minutes will tell you he's grandfathered in. Max meets all the requirements or else he wouldn't have been appointed the director."

Mr. Todd, however, said commissioners agreed in a work session shortly after consolidation they would allow interim department heads to apply for their jobs permanently even though they did not have college degrees but never officially voted on that agreement.

"My position is without a resolution or a ordinance changing that, it's not legal," Mr. Todd said. "Therefore, it don't apply -- what was discussed in a work session or what was discussed between commissioners outside the setting of a legal meeting and majority vote."

Mr. Sconyers said Mr. Todd's resignation request was "probably a campaign ploy" and "ridiculous."

Mr. Todd plans to run for mayor this fall and has given notice he will resign before qualifying starts at the end of this month.

Mr. Sconyers said that Mr. Todd was instrumental two years ago in delaying repairs to the 42-inch water line that could have averted the crisis.

"If you check the commission records for May 16, 1996, you will see a recommendation was brought to the Engineering Services Committee to do a study on the line, and Mr. Todd was instrumental in the committee receiving it as information.

"And anyone knows that's an effective way to kill it. They did it twice. So Max Hicks is not to blame. It falls back on the people who were at that meeting."

Mr. Sconyers said Mr. Hicks helped design the water system and probably knows more about it than anyone in the government.

"Max is an asset," he said. "He's not a liability."