How much power does 1 commissioner have?

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

News 12 First at Five / Monday, March 11, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Can an Augusta commissioner order a city employee to do something? That's the question commissioners discussed in Monday's committee meeting.

Some say this is not a new issue, but definitely one that needs to be discussed.

"We have to be very cautious on how we deal with this. You don't want to hamper a commissioner's ability to get answers and get things done," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

"It's always been a question and something we need to firm up on one way or the other," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

"When you're talking about drafting codes and those types of things," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

This agenda item follows right on the heels of three commissioners being officially reprimanded for doing business with the city. Some commissioners took issue with Commissioner Grady Smith asking City Attorney Andrew Mackenzie to draft a new ethics code.

"No one commissioner has the authority to tell one department head, especially the attorney's office, to change anything," Williams said.

It's the commission's job to approve the budget, set the tax rate and provide oversight to county departments. Commissioners say sometimes they need more information to do that.

"We can get information. We can request information from a department head. You can also request information through the clerk's office," Williams said.

"I really don't see any issues with that. You don't want to hamper, at the end of the day, the ability of the commissioner to represent his constituents," Mason said.

Still, city leaders are looking to set boundaries so they won't be crossed again.

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