PTC Council cuts mayor’s salary
4-1 vote trims monthly pay from $750 to $75 to recoup legal fees from libel suit
To help recoup what has become more than $12,000 in legal fees spent to defend Mayor Don Haddix from a libel lawsuit, the Peachtree City Council voted to give him a significant pay cut.
It means that Haddix will be paid just under $75 a month for the last three months of the fiscal year, a reduction of approximately $650 a month. There was no discussion about a similar reduction for Haddix's salary for the upcoming budget year.
Haddix was the lone vote against the motion, arguing that he was legally reimbursed for the fees, and that no council approval was needed for that to occur. Councilman George Dienhart said the matter could have been addressed had Haddix agreed to repay the money.
The lawsuit in question was filed by former Mayor Harold Logsdon against Haddix as a private citizen and not in Haddix's role as mayor. Logsdon alleged that Haddix libeled him in an email to a city staffer in which Haddix claimed that Logsdon formerly showed up to council meetings "part drunk." The dispute was settled in December with a written apology and an agreement for Haddix to pay Logsdon $3,000.
Councilwoman Kim Learnard said her job is to protect taxpayers and that she never imagined she would have to protect them from the mayor. The payment was not approved by council, rather it was authorized by the city's risk management carrier. That company cut the check to Haddix for just under $10,000 and the city had to reimburse the company because the expense was under the city's $25,000 deductible.
In other business, council agreed to pursue a dredging option for Lake Peachtree instead of creating another island in the lake. It was noted that the overwhelming amount of public input received prior to the meeting favored the dredging to make sure the lake's volume isn't reduced. There is some question as to whether the project could be delayed until 2014 when the Rotary Dragon Boat International Festival and two triathlons could perhaps be moved to the new Lake McIntosh. The project almost certainly could not begin prior to the Dragon Boat International Festival, scheduled for September of this year, according to city staff.
Council also approved $75,000 for a design to renovate the former recreation administration building at the Shakerag complex off McIntosh Trail so it can be utilized for senior citizen services. Construction of that project, estimated at over $500,000, and the design would be paid for by the city's facilties authority bond revenues. The nod for design does not require council to encumber the construction funds as of yet.
Council also gave a nod of approval to the first phase of the Peachtree CIty History Timeline Project, which is privately funded. The project will build a founder's corner at City Hall Plaza that includes the busts of city founders Joel Cowan and Floy Farr along with historical plaques. Fundraising is still ongoing for the initiative.