Things were not business as usual when the met for the first time in 2012 on Tuesday. By the end of the night, the mayor had resigned, the city clerk was replaced, and most in attendance—including other council members—were struggling to catch up with what had happened.
Usurping an item to approve the minutes from the council’s December meeting, Kathy Bookout, , launched into a series of seven motions, which left Mayor Jack Paris on the sidelines and visibly agitated.
Most of the motions sought to reduce and/or consolidate staff positions and called for the installation of a time-clock system of accounting for city employees.
Councilman Prather Rollins, , and Councilwoman Teresa Philyaw joined Bookout in passing all seven motions on 3-0 votes.
An agenda item that appointed a mayor pro tem, city clerk, treasurer and chief of police was moved up to be the first agenda item. According to Bookout, the appointments were moved up because city charter guidelines called for the positions to be appointed after Dec. 31.
Cynthia Geyer, executive assistant to the mayor, was also sworn in and will take over city clerk duties from Terri Graham, among other tasks.
Paris, who refused to participate in the process, said it was “the first he’d heard of any of it,” and after a few minutes he told those in attendance, “I apologize for what’s going on here, but I will not be a part of this.”
He then resigned as mayor, rose from his chair and left the building. It was the second time in seven months that Hiram saw its mayor resign.
After the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Derrick Battle echoed most others, saying he had not expected Paris to resign. According to City Attorney Glen Stinson, the city will probably need to hold a special election within 60 days to replace Paris.
Exiting City Clerk Terri Graham at the end of the meeting addressed the council, outlining her conflicts within the current administration and with .
Graham read from a prepared statement and told the council she worked hard for both Rollins and Paris.
“It is important for all of you to understand that my loyalty does not lie with the individual that holds that office, but rather with the city and its ethical operation,” Graham said.
Hear Graham’s full comments in the attached video.
Earlier in the meeting, the council also heard an audit review from Lloyd Williamson of Williamson & Co.
Williamson told the council that the city depleted its reserves to the tune of about $1 million in 2011 and is projected to drain another $1 million over the next fiscal year at current spending levels.
The council voted in favor of the renewal of contracts for Oak Street and Alexander Street lease agreements for Family Alliance of Paulding.
The council then voted to table an item to renew Georgia Municipal Employees Benefit System without changes and another to enter into a contract with Paulding County Economic Development for 2012.
The council renewed alcohol licenses for Rite Aid Store 11, Phoenix Bar & Grill and the .