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November 13, 2013

Quinlan council debates organizational chart

QUINLAN — There is one thing that supporters and detractors of Quinlan Mayor Donny Brock can agree on: his term has certainly been interesting.

Shortly after he was elected, the Quinlan City Council introduced an ordinance that Brock said would have stripped him of much of his power and consolidated it with then-city consultant Billy Green. Some city council members denied this, calling it a “housekeeping item.” The ordinance was later tabled.

Days later, the entire city staff, including Green resigned, and thousands of city documents were removed.

Recently, a fiscal audit commissioned by the city alleged that Green misappropriated more than $60,000 in city funds for his benefit, and more than $30,000 of those funds was not reported to the IRS from 2005-2008.

It is clear that tensions between Brock and many members of the council remain. In a two hour city council meeting on Tuesday, the council debated accepting an organizational chart that Brock said once again would strip him of power, something council member Jacky Goleman, who introduced the chart, disagree with.

“The city has the right to hire an administrator to run the city,” he said. “Nothing is going to change.”

Council member Charlie Thompson agreed with Goleman.

“This won’t change a cotton-pickin’ thing,” he said.

“Then why are we doing this?” Brock asked.

“We’re doing this to show all the people who their boss is,” Goleman said.

“I am their boss,” Brock replied.

“You are not their boss,” Goleman responded.

The chart, which features Quinlan voters at the top, put all department heads and city officers under the city administrator, who reported directly the council. The mayor was left off to the side, with no direct line of command. That, according to city attorney Brent Money, is not in accordance with city ordinances.

“You can not have a chart that places a city administrator above or around a mayor,” he said.

A second chart, which was prepared by Money based on existing city ordinances, the city’s personnel policy manual and state law, placed the council and mayor side by side, with the city administrator and officers on the same level and department heads answering to the city administrator.

“I’m saying this is the way it is, not this is the way I want it to be,” Money said. “This is based on the laws on the books at this time.”

According to the chart Money provided to the council, the council is allowed to take legislative actions, approve the hiring of subordinate officers appointed by the mayor and remove employees and officers for cause or lack of confidence.

The mayor recommends the legislative action, inspects the conduct of subordinate officers, causes negligence, carelessness and other violations of duty by subordinate officers to be prosecuted and punished and hires new subordinate officers subject to council approval.

There was some confusion when it came to vote on the chart. Goleman voted for it, while council members Carolyn Strickland and Brandon Frazier abstained. Thompson asked council member Tommy Underwood how he would vote before voting himself.

“I’m going to abstain as well,” Underwood said.

The measure failed to pass.

Money also noted that accepting the chart wouldn’t change the current city ordinances, and that the first step toward establishing a command structure would be to approve a new personnel policy manual.

A first draft of the manual was given to the council for review by city administrator John Adel.

The council approved a professional services agreement with Scott Singleton Fincher and Co. to perform the city’s fiscal year 2013 annual audit. The firm has performed the last several audits for the city.

A 25-year franchise agreement was reached with Atmos Energy. The franchise fee, which Atmos pays to the city, was increased from two to four percent.

The city is also working on establishing a Zoning Board of Adjustment, and is requesting interested citizens apply to serve on the board, or any other of the city’s boards, by filling out a form available at city hall.



 

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