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Does Canton's Mayor Need A Staff?

Cities around Canton don't have mayoral staffs. Why should we?

Over the past three months I have interviewed various staff and officials from neighboring cities, from our county, and from the Georgia Municipal Association’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to determine how local governments handle their elected official’s administrative support.

I have learned that local government is structured very differently from State and Federal Government. Local government does not have separate Executive and Legislative Branches. Local Government, meaning cities and counties, consists of a single Governing Body. A handful of exceptions include extremely large or extremely small cities but the overwhelming majority of cities and counties consist of a single Governing Body. Canton is no exception. Canton’s Governing Body consists of a Mayor and 6 Council Members.

Below are the results of my research. Just like Canton, all 12 of these Local Governments consist of a single Governing Body. The elected official’s titles vary such as Mayor, Chairman, Council Member, Commissioner, or Alderman but the basic structure is the same; a single Governing Body.

In all cases shown here the elected officials are part-time. The smallest city that I could find where a part-time elected official has full-time staff was Marietta (pop. 58,000). In addition to having almost 2-1/2 times the population of Canton, Marietta has it’s own school system and power company. Marietta has 720 employees compared to Canton’s 115.

The other two cities researched where the part-time elected officials have full time staff were Johns Creek and Roswell. As you can see these two cities are even bigger than Marietta and exceed Canton’s size several times over.

No cities in Canton’s size range employ any Mayor’s staff; absolutely none except Canton. The fact is that this is simply an unnecessary luxury. The almost $65,000 that Canton spends every year for this position can be put to much better use elsewhere.

 

City of Woodstock

Donnie Henriques, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 23,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Manager

City Clerk and City Manager’s assistant is administrative support to all elected officials

 

City of Acworth

Tommy Allegood, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 22,000

Mayor, 5 Aldermen, City Manager

City Clerk is administrative support to all elected officials.

 

City of Cartersville

Matt Santini, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 20,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Manager

City Clerk and City Manager’s assistant assists all elected officials  

 

City of Milton

Joe Lockwood, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 33,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Manager

City Clerk and City Manager’s assistant assists all elected officials

 

City of Kennesaw

Mark Matthews, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 30,000

Mayor, 5 Council Members, City Manager

Assistant City Clerk and City Manager’s secretary assists all elected officials as needed

 

City of Holly Springs

Tim Downing, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 9,200

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Manager

City Clerk and City Manager’s assistant assists all elected officials  

 

City of Alpharetta

David Belle Isle, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 58,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Administrator (Manager)

City Clerk and City Administrator’s assistant assists all elected officials

 

City of Sandy Springs

Eva Galambos, Mayor

NO MAYOR’S STAFF

Population: 95,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Manager

The City Manager’s Administrative Assistant assists all elected officials as needed.

 

Cherokee County

Buzz Ahrens, Chairman

NO CHAIRMAN’S STAFF

Population 220,000

Commission Chairman, 4 Commissioners, County Manager

The County Manager’s assistant assists all elected officials as needed

 

City of Marietta

Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, Mayor

STAFF – 1 ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SHARED BY ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS

Population: 57,000

Mayor, 7 Council Members, City Manager

720 employees

City School System & City Power Company

 

City of Roswell

Jere Wood, Mayor

STAFF – 1 ASSISTANT TO MAYOR & 1 ASSISTANT TO ALL COUNCIL MEMBERS

Population: 90,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members, City Administrator (Manager)

600+ employees including 2 full time attorneys, 2 full time legal assistants

 

City of Johns Creek  (from website)

Mike Bodker, Mayor

STAFF – 1 EXECUTIVE AIDE

Population:  77,000

Mayor, 6 Council Members

240 employees.  The city outsources everything except Public Safety and Finance.

Median Family Income: $150,592

It is Interesting to note that Johns Creek's Charter was created by the same “consultant” that was involved in bringing “Mayor’s Staff” to Canton’s Charter.

In conclusion, there are two ways to correct this problem. Option #1 is to simply eliminate funding of this position from the budget. This is the easy way out and is only a temporary band-aid that will have to be revisited every year. It can also be easliy slipped back into the next budget without proper public scrutiny. Option #2 is to change the Charter. This is a more difficult, deliberative and ardurous process but it is clearly the responsible thing to do. The City Council began this process last month with the First Reading and Public Discussion. The Second Reading and Public Discussion was last week. The Third Reading and Public Discussion will take place on December 20th. The law only requires two readings but we are doing three.

The Mayor will then have the opportunity to veto the City Council's decision. If he vetoes, there will be a Fourth Reading and Public Discussion. The council will then have the opportunity to override the Mayor's veto.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Walsh Family December 09, 2012 at 06:26 PM
"An Informed Public Is the Greatest Weapon of Democracy." Erwin Chemerinsky - Professor of Constitutional Law, Duke University Thank you Mr. Bryan for always doing your due diligence as it gives the public the undisputable facts! As the public decries the decisions of the council, these facts and your tireless work obtaining these facts serve the public with the information they may not otherwise have. My hope is this information will provide that "eureka effect" needed to move this Great City forward as they are indisputable. Lets all pull together, both sides of the "aisle," and support the board including the Mayor for the greater good of the city, not the greater good of the few that make the most noise.
Change For Canton December 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
These "facts" can be disputed as I don't see any sources listed. Mr. Bryan please provide all phone numbers and documentation. This is merely "your" research. Why don't you form a public committee to conduct this research. I am certain people will see you facts only support YOUR purpose. Kind of like saying that a "part-time" mayor does not need staff then why should a "part-time" council have staff.
Jeff Brown December 10, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Why did you not list all cities in the surrounding areas Bill? i.e.- Jasper, Ball Ground, etc???
Jeff Brown December 10, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Furthermore, the City Charter should not be amended bit by bit. If you want to make this change, then do it through budgets. The Charter document needs to be respected as the council voted unanimously to approve it 7 months ago. The Charter should be reviewed periodically but it has been less than a year since the new Charter was adopted. Changing the Charter to fit council's "mission" each time the Charter challenges the beliefs of a councilman should not be allowed. Why have a Charter at all?
Bill Bryan December 10, 2012 at 08:05 PM
It's not difficult to find this information. But it can be time consuming. I personally talked with the City Clerks or City Managers in all cities cited except Johns Creek where I got it from their website. Their Clerk, Ms. Joan Jones and I played some phone tag but never connected. Beileve it or not Joan Jones used to be the clerk in Jonesboro! :) I used most if not all the same cities the Charter Committee used. Maybe you should make some effort instead of just taking potshots at me. Do your own research. Just be sure to use cities that are orgainzed similar to Canton. Again MOST cities are organized similar to Canton. In a few cities our size you may find a rarely used system still in place where the Mayor position is a full time job with full time pay and benefits including staff. His duties include City Manager functions and there is no City Manager. This is a completely different form of government than Canton's.
Jeff Brown December 10, 2012 at 08:21 PM
No "potshots" Bill. Just factual questions. I have done some research and it would appear the Mayor of Ball Ground does have staff and so does the Mayor of Jasper. That is why I was questioning your exclusion of them. Canton is unique and therefore can have a unique government structure. Should we interview the Charter Committee and ask them why they decided to let the Mayor keep staff? Also, why did council unanimously approve the Charter 7 months ago? All fact based and important questions.
Bill Bryan December 11, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Where you getting your "information" Jeff? Better check their reliability............... :) Mayor John Weaver of Jasper (pop. 3,684) is the City Manager AND Mayor. One guy - two jobs. Of course he has staff; he hires and fires everybody and is full time - as City Manager. Ball Ground (pop. 1,433); are you kidding me? Who would think to check them? They are a great town and have done some wonderful things but to compare them to Canton (pop. 22,958)? Why not Nelson? Why not Tate? Anyway, there are a grand total of 3 full time employees at Ball Ground City Hall; the City Manager, City Clerk, Finance Director. There are 3 part time clerk/admin. folks who answer the phone, work the desk, and help the full timers and elected officials. This info. came from Councilman Mickey O'Malley.
Bill Bryan December 11, 2012 at 01:32 AM
To address your other questions: 1. Canton cannot have a"unique" government structure unless the Legislature grants it. And good luck with that. The Charter Committee briefly looked at that option and quickly dropped it. Canton has the most popular and most successful government structure in the United States - It is called Council/Manager. 2. Please feel free to ask the Committee anything you want to. Not being smartassey but it's your right to ask. I'd like to see their factual research on the staff issue besides just saying, "because Gene wants it that way". 3. I can only speak for myself on the Charter vote. I voted for approval because I knew it was going to pass anyway and I saw no need to not be agreeable. Much new information has come to light since then.
Jeff Brown December 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
So I am correct...both Mayors have staff...Also, the Mayor of Ball Ground has the ability to higher and fire and he is part time. I have a better idea, why don't we research how much City Managers make based on population size. Think they are all in the range of $150k plus car allowances etc.? (like Scott Wood) Maybe we cut the pay of that position and higher someone for economic development with the rest. That would save the City money-- solve some issues-- and get a person to head up economic development. Sounds like a win- win!
Jeff Brown December 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
1) Apparently the Legislature has no issue with our Charter as it is therefore, I do not see any reason to change it. 2) I have asked several on the committee, including some that spoke at the last council meeting, and they don't agree with an amendment. 3) What is the "new information" you are speaking of?
Change For Canton December 11, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Dang! What does the City Manager do to make half as much as the President of the United States?!? Please someone tell me he does not get a car allowance on top of the $150K! Please someone share his qualifications and comparisons to other City Managers salary wise.This is crazy.
Change For Canton December 11, 2012 at 08:13 PM
The City Manager of SANDY SPRINGS makes the same amount! Am I missing something here? The City of Canton is no Sandy Springs. http://www.mercergroupinc.com/pdf/ssprings44.pdf The average salaries of a City Manager is $116,666. That is from the very biggest city to the smallest. http://www.averagesalarysurvey.com/range/city-manager-salary/001-0018.aspx Jeff: It looks like this is an area we could cut and create a new position with some of the funds.
Change For Canton December 12, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Why so silent Bill? Maybe this is a topic that needs to be heavily explored!
Bill Bryan December 12, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Reasonable people accept defeat with grace & dignity; unreasonable people just change the subject. Since you guys are changing the subject why don't you write your own blog complete with your own research? The best place to start would be with Mayor Hobgood. Mayor Hobgood found Scott Wood. Mayor Hobgood recruited Scott Wood. Mayor Hobgood introduced Scott Wood to Councmembers Tanner, Goodwin, and Bryan at Trader Vics Restaurant in Atlanta in January 2009. Mayor Hobgood lobbied for Council approval of Scott Woods's salary and benefits package. I agreed with and followed Mayor Hobgood's advice and recommendation in hiring Scott Wood and with Mayor Hobgood leading the way, I assisted Mayor Hobgood in negotiating Scott Wood's entire compensation package. Mayor Hobgood was clearly in charge the entire time. I continue to believe that Mayor Hobgood made an excellent choice.
Change For Canton December 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Well Bill Bryan.....First of all, "defeat" never happened. Secondly, it makes no difference how Wood got here or who did what. He is a terrible City Manager complete with-probation's, etc....and he is grossly overpaid for the quality of his work. Does the council not manage Wood now? Could Council not vote to lower Wood's pay? So, you can write Hobgood as many times as you want...he is everyone's problem. What happened to wanting to save the city money Bill? This looks like an excellent place to trim the fat! Surely we can find a more qualified and capable person for that amount of money..don't you think?
Jeff Brown December 12, 2012 at 08:10 PM
No Bill, I did not change the subject. I offered you a reasonable solution to some of our issues while promoting your want for an Economic Development person. Is this not one of your "new goals"?
Username December 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I grew up in Canton and recently moved back so I attended the City Council meeting. Frankly I was shocked at how unorganized this meeting was, and how much self promotion was dribbling out of the councilmen's mouths. For many years the towns makeup was mostly law offices, and small retail shops. It has not ever really been a city that offered much, and everyone shopped at the mall. We need to hire a city planner that can make better use of our infrastructure to provide VISION and an experience that anyone can enjoy. We need better parking, and design standards for new and existing buildings. We need walkable paths so that we can connect the downtown loop with our green space near the Etowah river. This area could be used for concerts, and events. And what is it with the old retail buildings that border the Etowah river. Has anyone even dared to buy something there? This is a prime location for art galleries, music instrument stores, collectibles, cafes, and eateries. There is a lot that can be done to put Canton on the map, but the councilmen seem to be more interested in lining their own pockets and personal agendas.
Change For Canton December 18, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Wow...go over and read this one! I am not sure who Jay is but he is right on. Mr. Bryan..what do you think? http://canton-ga.patch.com/blog_posts/back-to-elementary-school-for-many-canton-city-councilmen
Bill Bryan January 10, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Jay's mindless rantings, deviod of facts, will come back to haunt him. He should be writing for the National Enquirer. His pen name could be "Gene's Boy".
Change For Canton January 10, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Oh my....well to me (and many others), Jay's articles seem to be well articulated and fact filled...much like his new one: http://canton-ga.patch.com/blog_posts/opinion-some-canton-citizens-want-three-councilmen-to-resign
Etowahwah January 10, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Pardon me, but is Bill Bryan actually complaining about "mindless rantings"? We've had to put up with his for quite some time now, and as proven, "facts" are not his strong point either! I applaud Mr. Saro and remind him of a saying I once heard: "The only people who are mad at you for speaking the TRUTH are those people who are living a LIE."

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