Translucent at Best
The Georgia open meetings act can be found at O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 through 50-14-6. I start this way because I was caught a little off guard when I read that the City of Flowery Branch hired a new Finance Director. In looking back at the past several agendas, including the agenda where the new person was hired, I did not see any notice of discussion. In browsing through the minutes from all the meetings in 2012, I never saw any discussion of a Finance Director.
Let’s be clear, this is a new position. In order to create this position, the council had to address it as a budget issue; however, the law is clear as to what can be discussed in executive session (closed meeting) as “personnel”: “Meetings when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee…” This would seem to fall into that category, but does the creation of the position fall into executive privilege? This would seem to be a budget item. While the discussion on who to hire and the pay would seem appropriate, the discussion of the need to have this position and the budget requirements doesn’t seem appropriate to me.
In looking at the budget for the City of Flowery Branch, there doesn’t seem to be a line item for Finance Director. I see a big ole line item for City Manager, $136,133 all in. According to city-data.com the median house value in 2009 was $199,634. With the Flowery Branch milage rate set at 2.837, the tax revenue for the median home in Flowery Branch comes out to $226.55 per year. At this rate, it takes about 600 homes just to pay the salary of the City Manager. 600 homes is about the size of Sterling on the Lake.
Now the council, in a closed meeting, has added a new budget item for a new Finance Director. Considering their propensity to try and keep things secret, I am not surprised.
Hugh Hall County Akston