SNELLVILLE -- Less than six months and two city attorneys later, Tony Powell is back as the lead lawyer for the city of Snellville.
Mayor Kelly Kautz said she made the decision a few days ago, after a long discussion with Powell about potential conflicts with his role as a Lawrenceville councilman.
Kautz said Powell's support of Barbara Bender, her competitor in last year's mayoral campaign, did not play a role in his firing late last year, but after conflicts with the council over the city attorney since her arrival in office, she said she decided to reappoint him city attorney to provide some stability for the city.
"I do think this is the best decision for the city at this time," she said. "It's best for our city to focus on legal matters and not have to build relationships."
The move comes just a month after the council unanimously approved the naming of Kevin Tallant as city attorney, after months of conflicts over Kautz's first pick, Stuart Oberman.
In recent days, Kautz said she learned that Tallant was not able to handle real estate transactions and had been hesitant to share information because of troubled relationships among the city council.
Since the city council had hired Powell to represent them in city matters -- bringing a second lawyer's expense -- and Powell continued to work on real estate matters, Kautz said her move would cut about $2,000 a month in expenses.
The decision also helps provide stability, with the recent departure of Russell Treadway as the city manager, she added.
Kautz said she had hoped the move, along with recent apologies to council members, would help to smooth public rifts that have plagued her tenure.
But on Friday, an anonymous press release contained harsh words from an unnamed city council member: "This whole situation is absolutely unbelievable. The mayor has created tremendous problems for the council and burned up a lot of taxpayer money with her City Attorney games. I'll make a formal statement next week, but for now, I just want Mr. Tallant to know that many council members offer their apologies for the shoddy and unprofessional way he was treated. This is an embarrassment and not the way the city of Snellville should operate."
A message left for Powell late Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts said he didn't appreciate learning about the change until after it was complete.
"I'm glad to see Tony back," he added. "Had he not been let go in November, it would have saved a lot of grief."