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Gainesville council set to OK qualifying fee for elected mayor, other posts
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Council retreat
What: Gainesville City Council retreat
When: 9 a.m. today
Where: Fair Street Neighborhood Center, 715 Fair St.

Gainesville City Council is set to approve qualifying fees for the newly established elected mayor’s post as well as for Ward 1 and 4 seats.

Council members talked about the fees, which also affect Gainesville City Board of Education Ward 1 and 4 seats, at their work session Thursday morning.

According to a resolution that goes before council at its Tuesday voting session, residents would have to pay a $621 qualifying fee for either of the council seats, $35 for mayor and $165.87 for either of the school board seats.

“The state election code pretty much dictates how we calculate the fee, which is 3 percent of the salary paid in the previous year,” City Clerk Denise Jordan told the council.

Because the city hasn’t had an elected mayor, “we had to fall back on state law, which says that fee can’t be any higher than $35,” she said.

Georgia law explains the 3 percent calculation, plus states that the highest amount that can be charged is $35 if it pertains to an office where the salary hasn’t been set.

The state legislature passed a law last year enabling the new government makeup — one mayor and five council members — but doesn’t say when or how the salary should be set, only that “the mayor and council members shall receive compensation and expenses for their services.”

City Manager Kip Padgett told council members they “would need, before next January, to set the salary for the mayor.”

“We (need to) get some ideas about what you all are looking at, sooner rather than later, because we need to plug that into the budgeting process,” he said.

The new mayor, as well as the Ward 1 and 4 council and school board members, would begin four-year terms on Jan. 1.

The Tuesday meeting is set to start at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville.

The council hasn’t set qualifying dates yet.

“That will be addressed later this year,” Jordan said in an email after the work session. “Generally speaking and assuming no changes are made to the election code during the General (Assembly), the qualifying period will be no less than three and no more than five consecutive days commencing on the last Monday in August and ending no later than the ... Friday (of that week),” she said.

The new mayor plan keeps the council’s current election structure intact, calling for the citywide election of five council members from each of the city’s wards, and a continued two-year rotation of mayor pro tempore.

But it adds a sixth seat to the council: a mayor elected from any of the five wards. That person, when elected, would have the same powers and duties of other council members, except when it comes to voting.

With the new addition, any council action would require the approval of four council members, rather than the current three.

The election is Nov. 5.

Current Mayor Danny Dunagan, who is in the second year of a two-year term, represents Ward 1, and Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem George Wangemann represents Ward 4. School board member David Syfan serves Ward 1 and Delores Diaz, Ward 4.

 

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