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Rules rejected, but Snellville council retreat to go on

Kelly Kautz

Kelly Kautz

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Tom Witts

Snellville’s city officials will participate in a strategic planning retreat Friday despite the council rejecting rules that would have put discussions on the city manager and city clerk dispute off the table.

The retreat comes a week after the mayor filed a lawsuit against the city council involving the dispute.

While Kautz created a stir when declining to discuss the upcoming retreat during a city council work session Monday, the next day she forwarded proposed rules for the retreat from a Carl Vinson Institute of Government moderator. The proposal primarily focused on keeping the discussion between the elected officials and said current City Manager Butch Sanders and City Clerk Melisa Arnold would not participate.

Kautz asked Sanders to cease working earlier this month, saying she did not nominate him to continue in the job he has held for more than a year, and the mayor later surprised the council by naming a new city clerk, saying Arnold would return to a purchasing position. But the five council members voted to acknowledge the two will continue in their position, leading to the lawsuit.

“The council has decided that we will not proceed without the valuable and necessary input of the city staff,” Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts said in an email to Kautz. “We have called for a specially called work session/strategic planning session to be held on Friday and Saturday (at) City Hall. This facilitated ‘retreat’ will include the city manager, clerk and attorney.”

Witts invited the mayor to attend, and Kautz said Wednesday she will do so.

“As mayor, I have a duty to attend and to chair the meeting, so I will be there,” Kautz said, adding that she was disappointed that the council would not agree to the rules. “This meeting will be open to the public like all of our meetings and I expect city staff including the new city clerk will attend,” she added, referring to the woman she appointed to the position earlier this month, Phyllis Richardson.