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ATA supervision, trips for Town topics at FBMA


A discussion concerning who the associate town administrator position should answer to in terms of discipline as well as authorized town business trips highlighted the meeting of the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday, May 24.

While discussing updates to the town personnel manual, Vice Mayor Mike Haynes pointed out how the manual indicates Board members are authorized to travel on town business or training. He suggested the addition of a phrase in the clause to state any other travel would have to be approved by the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Alderman Tom Rosseel, who earlier in the meeting told of results of a trip he and associate town administrator Gary Palmer took to a conference on international shopping center development, reacted to the comment.

“Mike, what are you suggesting in terms of what other travel would be and what would not be conducting town business?” Rosseel said.

“I don’t know,” Haynes said. “There may be some activities that fall outside of conducting town business and professional activities. I don’t think we can sit here and name them all.”

“Let’s take an example of the international conference on shopping centers, where we were promoting the town,” Rosseel said. “I would certainly consider that conducting town business, wouldn’t you?”

“No, I would have thought that probably should have been approved by the Board, but I’m not particularly dealing with that here,” Haynes said. “I just think as a safety valve it makes sense before any individual Board member could have specific travel that’s not T-M-L [Tennessee Municipal League], N-L-C [National League of Cities] or something clearly conducting town business that it come back before the Board. If it’s legitimate travel, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Rosseel said he followed town procedure and checked with Dan Olson, town administrator, to see if his trip qualified as town business and funds were available for it. He said if others felt as Haynes, he wouldn’t agree to such a change in the policy manual.

Haynes said he wasn’t referring to Rosseel’s trip, and that such a clause would act as a safety valve to assure the public town money wasn’t going to be spent on things that clearly weren’t tied to the town

business.

Rosseel said the authorization of town administrator acted as a safety valve.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said a motion had been made to add the phrase into the manual and called for a vote by seconding Haynes’ motion.

Board members Rosseel, Dorothy “Dot” LaMarche and John Williams voted against adding the phrase while Haynes and Ford voted for it.

Haynes then brought up a suggestion by town attorney Tom Hale to make the associate town administrator position subject to discipline and termination by the town administrator. Haynes said the only exception he would have to that is if the ATA becomes town administrator, then he or she would be subject to discipline and termination by the FBMA.

Haynes made a motion to that effect and Ford seconded it.

Hale said he drafted some language for the Board to look at. He said the associate town administrator position was a difficult one in that the ATA serves at the pleasure of the Board, but also answers to the town

administrator.

“He doesn’t know who to pay attention to,” Hale said.

Hale suggested a solution similar to what Haynes suggested.

“I couldn’t disagree with you both more,” Rosseel said. “A position such as that, which includes our department heads, is categorized as Classified Service / Exempt staff employment. Exempt employment means exempt from certain labor laws. Mr. Palmer was offered the position without clearly informing him that it was not the normal Classified Service / Exempt staff employment and that it did not include an employment contract. Without an employment contract, or without recourse to the town’s Personnel Committee like Classified Service employees, Mr. Palmer has been left in a precarious position.”

Rosseel said the stated purpose of Board’s action was to provide a seamless transition from ATA to town administrator in the event the town administrator left or was terminated.

“This, in my opinion, circumvents our town charter, which clearly states that the elected Board is empowered to name the acting town administrator, which may or may not be the associate town administrator, until that time that Board fills the position,” Rosseel said.

Rosseel made a substitute motion to Haynes’ motion that:

1. The associate town administrator’s employment status be changed from Exempt Service, or General Service as it’s now called, to Classified Service and he serve solely at the discretion of the town administrator.

2. That because the current ATA has been employed by the town for more than one year, the probationary period for Classified Service be waived.

3. That by no later than July 1, 2008, the town administrator assign each of the three remaining departments to report to the ATA and through the ATA to the town administrator.

4. In the absence of the town administrator, the associate town administrator serves as the acting town administrator until the next Board meeting at which time the Board confirms the acting status or appoints another individual as acting town

administrator.

5. All future ATAs or deputy town administrators be hired only by the town administrator, but with the advice and endorsement of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Rosseel, LaMarche and Williams voted in favor of the motion with Ford and Haynes voting against it.

 

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