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Mayor, council still at odds over staff issues

By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
An ordinance that would create a chief of staff position within the mayor's chain of command has been put on hold while Mayor Jan Wells continues to work out a personnel reorganization plan she is comfortable with.
Councilman Marc Jacobson and Councilwoman Cynthia McCollum brought the ordinance they drafted to the most recent city council meeting for first reading. However, the ordinance was withdrawn following debate of Wells' request to delay creation of the chief of staff position.
Not sure there's a need for a chief of staff, the mayor has said she prefers to improve city operations efficiency by using the new performance measurement system that is under implementation.
It was Councilman Ray Stubblefield who first introduced an ordinance a few weeks ago that would have created a position for a city manager reporting to the city council. The proposal was withdrawn because of opposition from the mayor and the public.
About a week later, the mayor submitted an organizational chart that included a position for chief of staff. She later made revisions to the organizational chart she submitted, which no longer included the chief of staff slot.
Between the mayor's initial reorganization plan and the revision, Jacobson and McCollum drafted the ordinance to create the chief of staff position.
Council members expressed confusion over the mayor's change in plan.
Jacobson said the ordinance matched the mayor's organization chart in regard to the chief of staff position.
Councilman David Buschmann said the council's intent was to help the mayor by creating the new chief of staff position.
Although very different in verbiage, the mayor said the ordinances Stubblefield and Jacobson proposed are essentially the same. She said she was trying to find the middle ground.
The mayor indicated a need for more effective communication between her and the council, which some of the council members acknowledged.
The council agreed to Jacobson's request to withdraw the ordinance he proposed.
Councilman Larry Vannoy asked that a date be set to bring the ordinance back to the council, but no date was set.
A Madison resident at the meeting questioned what would happen if the mayor fails to name a chief of staff, should the council eventually pass an ordinance to create the position.
City Attorney Anne-Marie Lacy said she would seek opinion from the state attorney general.
Among comments from residents at the meeting was a suggestion by Bruce Tucker to put the city administrator issue to public vote. Tucker told the council it is his perception that the council is attempting to change the city's form of government.
Several council members were quick to respond that changing the form of government is not their intention.

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