The Georgetown City Council approved creating a chief administrative officer (CAO) Monday, passing an ordinance on its second reading by a 6-1 vote, with one abstention. Councilwoman Karen Tingle-Sames voted against it, while Councilwoman Polly Singer-Eardley abstained.
Shortly after the ordinance was passed, Mayor Tom Prather announced by executive order that he was promoting City Attorney Andrew Hartley to CAO, and Devon Golden is being promoted to City Attorney. Hartley’s executive order was approved by the same 6-1 vote with Tingle-Sames voting against it and Singer-Eardley abstaining, and the executive order promoting Golden was approved 8-0. The executive orders are effective Feb. 16, and they were sworn in on Feb. 12.
“This is a big step for the City of Georgetown, and I appreciate the confidence the council has given us as we take this step,” Prather said. “I pledge to use this position as responsibly as I can to add depth to the city’s management and get more done.”
Hartley’s salary will be $118,000, while Golden’s salary will be $65,000. Golden’s current position will not be filled.
Tingle-Sames has not questioned the mayor needing assistance but has questioned if this was the right step to take.
“I just think we are putting the mayor’s authority in someone else and feel we are creating a position and giving a raise to an employee you want to keep,” she said. “I can understand feeling you need that someone to help, but I think we could do that with something like a project manager.
“I think we are setting up a bureaucracy level without any accountability to the people who elect a mayor to make these decisions. I remember past history where executive authority has been taken from the mayor by another appointed position. I don’t want to go down that path again.”
During public comment, Amy Dewes questioned the cost to the city and the promotion of Hartley from city attorney to chief of staff to now CAO. Prather explained that the chief of staff was a designated title given to the city attorney, and that for the balance of this fiscal year, the combined increase for the approved promotions will be $15,000 from current salaries. For an entire year, that combined increase is $60,000.
At a swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Hartley said there is a great team in place leading the city and he looked forward to working together.
“I love being here and am excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I look forward to sitting down with the department heads to see what you need from me, and what I need from you.”
Golden, who is from central Ohio and attended Georgetown College, appreciated the support.
“I look at all of you as my family and I have felt that since day one,” she said.
The action the council took in creating the CAO position also added a police officer to the City of Georgetown to bring the force to full complement after one officer was assigned as a school resource officer.
“Last year we made a commitment to the schools for another school resource officer,” Prather said.
“We looked at doing it with a retired officer, but when that could not be worked out, we felt we had to honor that commitment and moved one officer to the schools. But we promised the police department that when we did our mid-year budget amendment we would replace that officer.”
The schools reimburse the city and county for the first resource officer from each department, but the city and county are responsible for paying for the second resource officer.
In other action:
— Now that the Scott County Fiscal Court has passed a needle-exchange ordinance, the Georgetown City Council will be hearing from Dr. Crystal Miller, director of WEDCO Health Department, at the Feb. 25 council meeting. There will not be any kind of vote taken at that meeting on approving or reading an ordinance, Prather said;
— The council approved a resolution approving a partnership with the Scott County Fiscal Court on a grant application for funds from the Department of Local Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grant. The resolution was approved 8-0;
—Approved a municipal order approving surplus vehicles by the Georgetown Police Department;
— Held a first reading of the budget amendment ordinance that approved all changes to the budget from last July 1 through now. These actions include the purchase of a new rescue boat by the Georgetown Fire Department to replace an older boat; additional funds for code enforcement, although Finance Director Stacey Clark said the city would recoup some of those costs from other jurisdictions in the county; and various adjustments to capital projects;
— Clark also gave a quarterly financial update, looking at revenue streams compared to budget expectations. She said net profit taxes is one area that will need to be watched closely as it may not make budget, but property taxes and insurance premium taxes will meet or exceed budget.
Steve MCClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.