Mayor Ray Jenkins’ days as top banana in Doraville may be numbered.
The City Council voted Feb. 16 to ask residents in November whether Doraville should hire a city manager and significantly diminish the responsibility and power of the mayor’s office held by Jenkins since 2003.
Council members, including, several, elected in November, have expressed an interest in revamping City Hall to deal with high-profile projects such as the redevelopment of a defunct General Motors factory in the city. An Orlando developer announced its intentions this month to purchase the factory after more than a year of negotiations with the car company.
Jenkins was quick to say he thought residents should have an opportunity to weigh in on whether the city’s vision and management in the future should be guided by a mayor or a city manager. But he said residents were OK with things as they currently stand.
“I’ve always thought the citizens of Doraville liked the full-time mayor system of government,” he said.
The council vote asks the General Assembly to approve a referendum that would appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot in Doraville. If residents vote in favor of a shift in governance, changes would take effect in January 2012 after Jenkins’ term expires.
The council did not sort out the details of what a new city manager would be paid and what, precisely, his or her job duties would be. Jenkins and council member Brian Bates said voters should simply consider the concept of a city manager-run government against the mayoral system. Once that’s decided, the council would address the nuts and bolts of a new governance system.
The decision to wait to finalize details frustrated two council members. Council member Maria Alexander said she wanted residents to know what a “part-time” mayor’s responsibilities would be.
“I want the citizens to fully understand… before they go to the ballot box,” Alexander said.
Pam Fleming was the only council member to vote against the resolution for the same reason.
Council member Bob Roche said the council should hire a part-time city manager immediately to revamp City Hall as soon as possible. Roche and Jenkins have butted heads over city planning and development and growing frustration between the two was on full display at the Tuesday meeting.
“You can take action a lot quicker to get something done quicker,” Roche said.
In other council news, the board delayed consideration of hiring a new director of planning and development after it approved the referendum. Roche has said the city is ill-equipped to deal with the GM factory redevelopment.
“I think we need to bring in someone of a high stature,” he said.
Almost immediately after the issue was raised, other council members shot it down.
“I think this is a great topic for a retreat,” Bates said.
Council member Karen Pachuta agreed. Alexander said she wasn’t sure whether the city could afford to hire one.
Jenkins protested the proposed hiring.
“I think we’ve got a good (planner) if you’d give him a chance,” he said.
No further action was taken.