Let me start this opinion by saying that I have the utmost respect, appreciation and confidence in East Ridge Fire Chief Mike Williams.
With that said, the action taken by East Ridge City Council at the June 10 called meeting removing Deputy City Manager responsibilities from Thad Jablonski and placing them on Chief Williams, I believe was a violation of our City Charter.
The charter states in Section 5- H, “In the temporary absence or disability of the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager, if such position is established or other officer designated by the city manager and approved by the council shall serve in this capacity.”
Current City Manager Andrew Hyatt had previously designated City Treasurer Thad Jablonski as the Deputy City Manager. This decision was approved by council.
During a meeting of June 10 Councilman Larry Sewell, not City Manager Andrew Hyatt, made a motion to remove deputy city manager responsibilities from Mr. Jablonski and move those responsibilities to Fire Chief Mike Williams.
In this citizen’s opinion, that is in direct violation of our City Charter.
I do think council has the authority to make changes in the organizational chart of the city; however, that would be by ordinance requiring two votes 13 days apart. The reason for this item being addressed in this particular meeting was because the meeting was a workshop on the budget for fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 and tagged on to Mr. Sewell’s motion was an extra $1,000 for Fire Chief Williams when he has to assume the duties as Assistant City Manager.
There was no clarification as to whether a day, a week or a month would trigger the extra compensation. With the organizational chart being a part of the budget and a money issue being addressed as part of the budget, that is why I believe it would have to be done by ordinance.
While I have no objection to Chief Williams being assigned these extra responsibilities, I do not believe it was done properly or legally. Therefore, I think it brings into question who is legally in charge of the day to day operations of the City of East Ridge today when Mr. Hyatt is out of town