LAWRENCEVILLE - Mayor Rex Millsaps said he was only guilty of saving the city money in reports he participated in votes involving his employer.
But he said Lawrenceville City Council members had made their own poor decisions, calling out the board for a controversial executive session vote as they voted for an investigation into the conflict of interest.
Millsaps, a certified public accountant, has been on the payroll of Lawrenceville-based architectural firm Precision Planning for more than two decades.
While he says he has avoided any votes involving the firm and had the mayor pro tem sign contracts with Precision, two occassions where he voted to break ties involving contracts with the company recently came to light.
"For us to do nothing, that casts a cloud that remains," Councilman P.K. Martin said in pushing for an investigation.
The first vote in question happened in 2007, involving a sidewalk along Callaboose Alley. Millsaps, who said he did not realize the Precision link when he voted, said he found out upon further investigation that the monetary arrangement had already been made by city staff and checks had already been issued.
In 2008, City Attorney Tony Powell pointed out that the mayor voted to break a tie on a contract involving the city's well system. That vote was voided and another was later taken, in which the mayor did not take part.
"The whole time I've been in (office), I've tried to never vote on a Precision contract. I've never signed a Precision contract," Millsaps said. "We redid that one. Nobody caught the other one."
Millsaps said he has not had a raise in more than 20 years of doing the books for the firm. He made nearly $12,000 in 2008, but Millsaps said all of the money was either directed to taxes or retirement.
"I think the allegations are serious," Councilman P.K. Martin said prior to the meeting. "As a council, we need to further investigate to see what's true.
"It's only fair that we do something," he said, when asked if the mayor would be reprimanded. "(Residents) deserve open and fair government."
Councilman Mike Crow, who as acting mayor pro tem lead the discussion and did not vote on the investigation, defended the mayor, while at the same time asking that an impartial attorney such as the district attorney look into the matter.
Millsaps recused himself of the conversation about the investigation, but said afterward that he would cooperate.
"This body has already affirmed the mayor's actions by our approval of the minutes," he said, adding that the investigation by the city attorney would "fuel the fire of political adversity."
Millsaps said the majority of the city's current dealings with Precision Planning relate to contracts executed before he was elected to design the city's new police department facility.
He called out council members for taking a vote on a personnel matter in executive session, saying that while deliberations can be held behind closed doors, votes must be made public.
Millsaps contends that Council members Martin, Bob Clark and Marie Beiser voted three weeks ago to move Brad Leonard, the city's long-time planning director, to a position dealing with risk management. The vote also called for a new planning director and a newly created economic development director position to be answerable to the council instead of the city clerk.
Councilman Mike Crow reportedly abstained, and Millsaps said he vacated the decision the next day.
"We'll see what the public thinks about that vote because it's clearly in violation of state law," Millsaps said before the meeting. "We all make mistakes."
During Monday's session, the council delayed a vote on the executive session's minutes, after Clark sought to remove references to the vote from the minutes.
The council voted to create a job description for an economic development manager and to change the risk management description to include city revitalization and building matters.
Clark presented a motion to search for a person to fill the economic development and planning and zoning director position, but Crow said that would be "putting the cart before the horse," as the city currently has a planning director.
After the meeting, Clark said he believed the city could find "a better match" for the planning role than Leonard.