Just three months after granting them, the Rhome City Council has limited the powers of its mayor.
Without Mayor Louis Godfrey in attendance, the city council met in closed session for more than three-and-a-half hours Monday to discuss his authority.
At the suggestion of City Attorney Walt Leonard, the council by a vote of 4-0-1 approved five changes to the mayor’s powers. Councilwoman Michelle Pittman abstained.
Those changes include:
- The hiring and firing of department heads “or those above” will be done by the city council. “Persons below that will be by mayor, in conjunction with department heads,” Leonard said.
- Discipline and firing decisions may be appealed to the city council at the next regular session. “Whether that person remains on the job in the interim is at the discretion of the mayor and department head,” Leonard said.
- Staff is to prepare proposed job descriptions for all employees as part of a general review of the personnel manual.
- Overtime for all employees will be as authorized by the department head.
- Each department head “may utilize their own resources as per the budget and in conjunction with the mayor and council.”
At a June 16 meeting, city council members approved amending an ordinance to give Godfrey the authority to hire and fire department heads without the council’s approval.
Although discussion to revoke that power took place behind closed doors, Councilman Ronnie Moore spoke with the Messenger during a phone call Monday afternoon.
“We gave him the power to fire and hire, not to abuse that power,” he said. “We are doing this to slow him down on his abuse of power.”
Moore also claimed that a statement Pittman made in an article in the Sept. 27 edition of the Messenger was incorrect.
“We never told that man [Mayor Godfrey] to fire anyone,” he said. “Every person he has fired he has done on his own. We gave him that permission, and what he did, he took on his own … But when you start picking on the chief of the police department, that is abuse of power.
“We are taking it away because that man was abusing his power – that is why.”
Also during Monday’s meeting, the council extended by six months the probationary period for Police Chief Brandon Davis.
Davis, who has lived in Rhome for 14 years, was named interim police chief June 24 after Police Chief James Rose resigned the day before.