Jun. 11—A plan proposed by Mayor Tab Bowling that would have reorganized sanitation, streets and city garage employees was tabled by the Decatur council this week amid claims of a lack of transparency and limited time to understand the proposal.
With Street & Environmental Services Director Rickey Terry's announcement that he plans to retire Sept. 30, Bowling proposed moving the Street Department to fall under Engineering's responsibilities. A director would be hired for an Environmental Services Department that would include the city maintenance garage. The pay range for the new director would be $70,854 to $107,813 annually.
Bowling said the proposal is meant to create efficiency in city operations, but the council voted to table his reorganization plan and his proposal to begin a search for an Environmental Services director.
Councilman Billy Jackson was the most vocal against voting on the mayor's proposal Monday evening.
"This is not just a run-of-the-mill change. It's a major change that impacts the everyday city operations, and this is the first discussion we've had," Jackson said. "There's been no public discussion. No discussion among the council members, and this impacts the city budget. In my mind this completely lacks transparency."
The council voted 4-1 to table the mayor's proposal.
Council President Jacob Ladner said he voted against tabling the motion because the agenda had been available for a week. He said council members could have called a director or the mayor if they had questions about the proposal.
The departmental changes were presented in April to the Personnel Board and received a unanimous recommendation from this board.
Jackson said he got a number of calls from employees "fearful" of the changes after they read a news report outlining the proposed changes.
"With Rickey Terry leaving, regardless of how you feel about that, we don't have to rush into this," Jackson said.
He said a temporary supervisor over sanitation, streets and city garage employees worked well for a year and a half in 2014-15 when a previous director's layoff led to another departmental reorganization.
Jackson said after the meeting that he doesn't understand why the mayor wants to change Street and Environmental Services when they've worked well together for years.
Bowling said he believes the Engineering and Street departments work so closely that they fit well together. City Engineer Carl Prewitt would manage the two departments and answer to new Director of Development Dane Shaw, who starts Monday.
Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin told the council that the changes were discussed internally between the mayor, department managers and Terry for months, "but I understand why the council might feel it hasn't had enough time to look at the changes."
Jackson replied, "But with all due respect, the mayor, Rickey Terry or you aren't voting members of the City Council ... "
Bowling then cut him off. "I did everything you've talked about. Everything was slowly reviewed before we presented this to Personnel and before we brought it to the council."
Jackson said all he wants is for the council "to have a chance to thoroughly and adequately review" the proposal.
Councilman Hunter Pepper said he also would like to have more time to review the mayor's proposal. He said he didn't think presenting the plan in the short work session just prior to the meeting was long enough.
"I don't feel comfortable voting about something I have no clue about," Pepper said.
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