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Auburn city clerk resigns

AUBURN - The city's clerk submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday, saying Auburn's management is dragging the city "into an abyss of failure."

Terry McElwee, who has been Auburn's city clerk for about a year and a half, sent his page-long letter to Mayor Harold Money and members of the City Council.

According to the letter, his resignation is effective March 31.

"It happens year after year. They hire professional management, Council interferes, they get personal, and people leave," McElwee said. "All you have to do is drive over to the city and see it's a crummy little city. There's no pride. Nothing good is coming out of it."

McElwee said his resignation - and that of his accountant, Dee Hickman - stems from controversy regarding a city administrator position the city created last summer.

The past five mayors have been in favor of the position, McElwee said, but members of council have stymied their efforts to bring a full-time manager into the city. When the measure finally passed last summer, Mayor Harold Money wanted to wait until after November's election to put someone in the position. The position remains vacant, McElwee said, and a move to repeal it is now on the city's agenda for Thursday's council meeting.

In a letter, Councilwoman Dorissa Shackelford said she had often stated she would repeal the ordinance at her first opportunity. She called McElwee a "remarkable and hardworking individual" and said she would be in favor of the position if it was approved by voters.

McElwee said the fact that repealing the ordinance is on the agenda indicates that Auburn is unable to progress.

"There's a very negative, a very hateful element in this community," he said. "They despise success."

Money said he would be sorry to see McElwee leave but understood why he no longer wanted to work for Auburn.

"He thinks we're going backward instead of forward," Money said. "It kind of gets you down when there's a positive direction you want to go, and people are taking a different avenue. We'll miss him. Terry does a lot of work."

McElwee left open the possibility that he would return to the city, if Auburn created a city administrator position and restored the mayor's powers, which he said had been stripped over the years.

McElwee, who does not live in Auburn, said he and his wife were building a house in Texas and would be leaving the area at the end of March. In his letter, he said he is not the person to run the city in the long term but that he has a plan and a vision for the next several years.