Griffin BoC retirement vote in accord with city charter, state law

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The city of Griffin Board of Commissioners (BoC) has approved a resolution that provides for the inclusion to the city’s retirement plan for individuals who serve eight or more years on that governing body.

Originally discussed early this year at the BoC’s annual Goals Workshop, the second and final vote took place during the Nov. 28 meeting.

Commissioners Rodney McCord, Cora Flowers and Cynthia Reid-Ward voted in favor of the resolution, and Doug Hollberg, Ryan McLemore and David Brock opposed.

Commissioner Dick Morrow said he initially opposed the measure before agreeing to vote to approve the elected officials’ retirement plan. Morrow ultimately said he was “split down the middle” on the issue and “conflicted,” and no longer wanted to vote on the measure, but rather abstain.

City Staff Attorney Jessica Whatley O’Connor addressed the Board, explaining that according to the city of Griffin Charter, Morrow’s abstention would be counted as an affirmative vote.

Section 2.7(a) of the Charter states in part, “An abstention, except when based upon the member’s disqualification for announced conflict of interest or other legal grounds, shall be counted as an affirmative vote.”

The Charter, in Section 2.7(b), addresses announced conflicts of interest, stating, “No commissioner shall vote or act upon, or seek to influence the approval or rejection of, any ordinance, resolution, contract or other matter within the official jurisdiction of the city in which that person is financially interested. Any commissioner having a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any ordinance, resolution, contract, or matter pending before or within a department of the city shall disclose such interest, in writing, to the commission at the earliest opportunity and disqualify himself or herself from participating in any decision or vote relating thereto.”

Although the commissioners’ vote on the retirement plan did pertain to a financial interest, City Manager Kenny Smith said Section 2.7(b) does not apply, as elected officials do cast votes regarding salaries and benefits.

While the city Charter may not specify the manner in which those processes will be carried out, Georgia law does.

§OCGA 45-10-25(a)(2) specifies there is no prohibition on transactions “involving the purchase by the public official or employee of any health or life insurance, disability benefits, or retirement or pension benefits offered as a part of a public official’s of employee’s service or employment.”

Furthermore, §OCGA 36-35-4(a), which covers compensation and benefits for employees and members of governing authority; conditions and requirements governing increases for elective members of governing authority, states, “The governing authority of each municipal corporation is authorized to fix the salary, compensation, and expenses of its municipal employees and the members of its municipal governing authority and to provide insurance, retirement, and pension benefits, coverage under federal old-age, survivors and disability programs, hospitalization benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits for its employees, their dependents, and their survivors and for members of the municipal governing authority, their dependents, and their survivors, when such benefits are provided to municipal employees.”

The retirement plan for city commissioners will provide $25 per month per year of service. This benefit will be provided at the age of 65, and commissioners, who will not contribute to the plan, will be vested after eight years in office.

The actuarial cost of the Board of Commissioners retirement plan has been calculated at $23,745, which Smith said amounts to .14 percent of the city’s $110 million annual budget.

The commissioners’ vote also approved an increase from 1.5 percent to 2 percent for the city’s retirement plan for regular employees. Ω

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Comments

  1. Steven w Stroup says:

    We all know the the US congress vote for their own pay and compensations but there is a rule in the US congress says the people who voted for the increase must complete their current term and be re elected to Qualify for the increase in compensation. If this rule was applied to all local government no one should complain. If the people do not agree with it they can vote those who voted for the increase out of office.

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