Fu­ture un­cer­tain for two key Por­terdale city ap­point­ments

City clerk, Bet­ter Home­town man­ager jobs hang in bal­ance

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Jenny Thompson

The po­si­tions of Por­terdale’s city clerk and Bet­ter Home­town man­ager have faced un­cer­tainty since the be­gin­ning of the year.

At the Jan. 7 Por­terdale City Coun­cil meet­ing, as all other city of­fi­cials were newly ap­pointed or reap­pointed and sworn into of­fice, Coun­cil­man Robert Fox­worth moved to de­fer the reap­point­ment of City Clerk Shari Steven­son un­til the Mon­day meet­ing.

“ My nerves are com­pletely shot,” Steven­son said. “ I haven’t had any sleep in a cou­ple of days, and any­thing I eat just goes right through me.”

Fox­worth cited dis­crep­an­cies on ex­pense re­ports as the rea­son for de­fer­ring her ap­point­ment. Mayor Bobby Hamby said the in­con­sis­ten­cies were the re­sult of a com­puter er­ror and could be eas­ily ex­plained.

De­spite Hamby’s ex­pla­na­tion, all the board mem­bers, with the ex­cep­tion of Kay Piper, voted to de­fer her ap­point­ment.

“ The city of Por­terdale is very for­tu­nate to have a city clerk as qual­i­fied as Shari is,” Piper said at the Jan. 7 meet­ing.

Steven­son has worked as Por­terdale’s city clerk for five years and is cer­ti­fied for the po­si­tion. Be­fore work­ing for Por­terdale, she worked with the United States Border Pa­trol at the Cana­dian boarder.

Thurs­day, Fox­worth and Coun­cil­man Mike Harper called a spe­cial meet­ing to dis­cuss a “per­son­nel mat­ter” as part of the coun­cil’s reg­u­larly sched­uled work ses­sion.

Be­cause Coun­cil­woman Piper did not at­tend Thurs­day’s work ses­sion, the coun­cil did not have quo­rum and could not vote to move into ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion to dis­cuss the mat­ter or vote on any mea­sure.

Por­terdale’s Bet­ter Home- town Man­ager Patti Bat­tle may not be reap­pointed at Mon­day’s meet­ing as well.

Thurs­day, Coun­cil mem­bers dis­cussed the idea of com­pletely cut­ting the Bet­ter Home­town pro­gram to de­crease the city’s ex­pen­di­tures in a tight econ­omy.

At the coun­cil’s De­cem­ber meet­ing, a heated di­a­logue took place about the costs of the three com­mu­nity events planned by Bat­tle.

Fox­worth and Harper took is­sue with the fact Bat­tle did not seek coun­cil ap­proval for the money she spent on the July Fourth Pa­tri­otic Day, Yel­low River Jam and Christ­mas in the Vil­lage events.

Bat­tle be­gan work­ing as Bet­ter Home­town man­ager in the late spring of 2007, so the city’s bud­get did not in­clude line items for the pro­gram.

As the dis­cus­sion in­ten­si­fied at the De­cem­ber meet­ing, Fox­worth moved to go into ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion to dis­cuss Bat­tle’s po­si­tion. Noth­ing was re­solved at the De­cem­ber meet­ing.

At the Jan­uary meet­ing, the Bet­ter Home­town is­sue came up again. Hamby and Piper came to Bat­tle’s de­fense.

“ There are sev­eral key in­gre­di­ents to Por­terdale’s re­vi­tal­iza­tion and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Bet­ter Home­town is part of it,” Piper said. “There should be a line item in this year’s bud­get, so she knows the con­straints within which she is work­ing.”

Bat­tle re­cently grad­u­ated from the Ge­or­gia Academy of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

“We know there have been some mis­takes made in the six months we’ve had a Bet­ter Home­town pro­gram,” Hamby said. “ Now is the time to make al­lo­ca­tions in the bud­get and poli­cies to guide the di­rec­tor.”

The coun­cil will vote on the city clerk and Bet­ter Home­town di­rec­tor reap­point­ments at their 6: 30 p. m. meet­ing Mon­day.

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