Hiring City Employees

SEC. 21-9-31. Control of manager and his subordinates by council.

Neither the mayor nor any of the members of the council or committees of the council shall direct or dictate the appointment of any person to or his removal from office by the manager or any of his subordinates. Except for the purposes of inquiring or receiving information or advice, the mayor and council and the several members thereof shall deal with the administrative services solely through the manager and neither the mayor nor any member of the council shall give orders to any subordinate of the city. The city council shall have the power to investigate any part of the city government and for that purpose to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence.

The first sentence in the above law is very clear, yet I read in the paper that a committee has been appointed to choose the next Community Planning Director. Who appointed this committee, how was it established? The law quoted above says it can’t be the Mayor or Council or a committee of the Council that tells the City Manager who to hire.

If it was the City Manager that created and appointed this committee, we have gone down this road before in 2006 when the City Manager wanted to create a committee to evaluate the applicants for the Chief of Police opening. There was an AG’s Opinion sought and here is a portion of it:

A city manager in a municipality operating under a council-manager form of municipal government lacks the authority to create an alternate method for the selection or examination of applicants for positions under the coverage of the civil service system. To do so would run afoul of the specific requirement found in Section 21-31-7 that any examinations for covered positions be conducted under the direction of the board of examiners appointed by the civil service commission. To answer your specific question, the City Manager must choose the new employee from the list of those eligible candidates or applicants who have completed the requirements and meet the criteria set forth by the Civil Service Commission Rules and Regulations.

Unless the new position is not covered under Civil Service the above ruling should apply. At least back in 06 the committee was going to be made up of law enforcement professionals from OUTSIDE Gautier. This newly formed committee is made up of Gautier businessmen who the new director will have to oversee when it comes to planning and development. Talk about putting a new employee in a difficult situation.

One last cut and paste:

SEC. 21-9-29. Duties of city manager.

The city manager shall, subject to law:

(d) appoint and remove all department heads and other employees of the city, except that notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the council shall appoint the city attorney, the auditor, and the police justice, if any, and the council may, in its discretion, appoint the city clerk and treasurer;

I left out all but (d) to save space.

I belive we need this new position, but if the City Manager feels he needs help evaluating the applicants, he needs to bring in help from outside Gautier possible getting help from  The Mississippi Economic Development Council or from the Mississippi Development Authority.


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