Letter to the Editor: I will ask Keyser City Council to rescind their motion
I have hope that my future efforts to act accordingly to the procedures set forth in the City Charter/Ordinance, Policies and Handbooks will be met with understanding within the council and among the city residents.
I firmly believe in the need for a full-time city administrator, because we have a part-time mayor and council that has limited authority in certain matters. It is vital that the City of Keyser have an official that can oversee all operations of the city government on a daily basis.
To support the need for a full-time administrator I will address the mayor and the council’s role and some pitfalls.
The mayor and city council members are in charge with serving the public’s interest. The City Charter, Section 10, and Personnel Policy, specifically gives the mayor appointing authority in “Hiring Procedure” and over city officials that will answer to the city governing body. Only when the mayor fails to appoint a city official or fill a vacancy the mayor will ask the council for recommendations.
The council may only act through duly called meetings that are open to the public to conduct city business “in full view of the public.” A city council can conduct closed meetings to discuss certain personnel matters.
City council members are to act as a single governing body, not as individuals.
The city council members must refrain from taking actions that become involved in any supervisory role as to employees. Thus, when an individual city council member takes an individual action, his conduct could lose certain protections and immunities from liability. When city council members act as a governing body, they have absolute immunity, but that immunity can be lost when the governing body takes action outside the council’s authority.
Actions also taken collectively by the council might lack immunity if they relate to specific individuals instead of furthering city policy. Also, actions with regard to individual employees may be considered suspect and employees can argue an improper review or disclosure that could result in liability and invasion of privacy.
This is where the need for a city administrator is vital. It is in the city’s best interest.
The city administrator is a vital part of the operations that provides overall supervision to the city human resource functions, including but not limited to the tasks in reviewing employee personnel files, gathering information from supervisors, overseeing and providing instruction to department heads and overseeing the city employment structure.
If a city resident has a complaint on the conduct of a particular employee, the council can respond by asking the city administrator to investigate and take appropriate action regarding the resident’s complaint.
The Policy: The city administrator is an appointed official by the mayor. He is evaluated twice a year by the mayor and one council member. An administrator has a right to appeal his/her evaluation to the mayor and council.
This policy is in the best interest of the city. The evaluation’s intent is to provide a record that supports keeping a quality worker and the removal of an official failing to meet the criterion of the evaluation.
Therefore, once I’m sworn in to the city governing body, I will discuss with the council a “Motion to Rescind Previously Adopted Motions” on Sept. 9, 2020 as the motions that were passed were tainted and therefore null and void.