By DOUG NURSE / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Published on: 08/07/07
Indecision comes at a cost. In Milton's case, the bill could be approaching $11,000.
The Milton City Council's prolonged and inconclusive executive sessions on "personnel matters" over the past week have cost the taxpayers in attorneys' fees and paid "vacation" for the city manager.
"There's been some legal costs, but I feel it's an important matter to the city and its citizens," said Mayor Joe Lockwood. "All the articles have talked about the time spent, but we're trying to take our time and make the best possible decision. We are not taking things lightly."
Some members of the council have been upset that City Manager Aaron Bovos didn't tell them for four months that the city probably has forfeited $900,000 in tax revenue because of a missed Jan. 1 deadline with the state.
The council convened July 30 for 14 1/2 hours behind closed doors to discuss personnel. Accompanying the city council were two lawyers, city attorney Mark Scott and another member of his firm, Angie Davis. Together, they bill at $300 an hour.
Scott said that Davis attended as well because he has occasionally locked horns with Bovos, and Davis could bring some objectivity to the discussions. Also, having advised Forsyth County and Cherokee County and other governments, Davis brought experience dealing with personnel issues, he said.
But the July 30 discussion failed to yield definitive action, and the city council reconvened again in executive session last Thursday for another 4 1/2 hours. And again, the city council came to no resolution. It is tentatively scheduled to take up the issue again on Thursday.
At 19 hours of executive sessions, the attorneys' bill comes to $5,700, although Scott said the firm may give the city a break.
"There was a very good chance that if it hadn't gone on so long, we would've eaten it [the bill]," Scott said. "But given that it's taken so much of her [Davis'] time, we'll have to bill for it."
In the meantime, Bovos has not been to work since July 30 but he is continuing to be paid his weekly salary of $2,788. Officials are calling it a vacation even though it isn't coming off his accrued vacation time. Lockwood declined to comment, except to say, "He's taking some personal time off."
Bovos could not be reached for comment. If he continues to be on paid vacation through Thursday, he will have accrued approximately $5,000 since he last showed up at City Hall.