LEESBURG, Ga. -- A recommendation by the Georgia Municipal Association that the city of Leesburg consider hiring a city manager drew quick attention from the City Council.
The council agreed even before it received the formal assessment papers to begin the search for a city manager and hired a consultant to help find viable candidates.
However, the operational assessment by GMA also outlined several other steps that the city should take. Those steps have not been acted upon yet.
City Councilwoman Judy Powell said the council plans to take a close look at the GMA recommendations, but that likely will occur after a chief administrator is hired.
For example, the city of Leesburg's charter was enacted in 1973 and revised in 1977, 1981, 1995 and 1996. Ordinances were codified in 2002 but have not been updated since, a recent study found.
The assessment was done by Tom Berry, a city manager consultant and previous city manager in Thomasville, and Pam Helton, local government marketing manager for GMA and previous city administrator in Sandersville.
Helton and Berry said all ordinances adopted by the council since 2002 should be incorporated into the ordinance books as soon as possible
They also noted that Mayor Jim Quinn appoints council members to serve on committees. However, the committees do not meet on a regular basis and are "not utilized in a formal process," Bell and Helton reported.
Bell and Helton suggested a more formal process for committee meetings with reports provided to the full council.
"Organizational development will lead to a clearer understanding in the role of each elected official and department heads," the report states.
Bell and Helton also suggested that the city's latest strategic plan be included in a notebook and made available to the public.
The review panel looked at the city's Revenue and Finance department and found the city has "numerous practices and controls in place for good financial management."
The study panel did report some findings and recommendations including:
- The city does not currently impose the additional 3 percent excise tax on liquor by the drink. In the city limits, that would impact just one restaurant and the income would be minimal.
- The city does not follow through in the collection of outstanding taxes through the sale of property.
- The city does not have a system in place to collect delinquent fines.
- The city does not have a system in place to collect outstanding utility bills and other debt owed. It was recommended the city use GMA's debt collection service.
- Inventory of all assets from each department should be maintained and kept current as purchases are made and assets are sold or salvaged.
Bell and Helton recommended that Leesburg adopt written financial management policies for revenue administration and internal control.
In terms of city purchasing, the study found that the city has a written policy on purchasing, but that it is often not followed or monitored for compliance.
The report to council members said, "Creating a purchase-order system with a sound purchasing policy will help to adhere to the city's budget and ensure compliance with the city's findings in the audited financial statements."
The assessment indicates the city needs to shore up its employee handbook, review job descriptions, develop a pay plan and initiate performance reviews. These are tasks likely to be initiated by a city manager.
Public Works is a key part of the city's mission, as it is in most small towns. The study recommended that an office person be hired to handle Public Works calls and complaints and to document all work requested and performed.