In a called meeting Monday night, Michael Haviland was sworn in as Nelson’s new mayor.
Haviland will be Nelson’s first mayor in a year and a half, since David Leister abruptly resigned last May leaving the position vacant. Following Leister’s departure, the city reorganized her government, establishing a strong council-weak mayor structure. Additionally, last week council approved an amendment to the city ordinance giving City Clerk Brandy Edwards city manager duties in addition to her city clerk responsibilities, which is part of the governmental structure as well.
The move to make Edwards city manager caused contention in the community due to the authority granted by the new position. As city manager, Edwards has the authority to make day-to-day decisions without council approval. Major decisions, though, such as hiring and firing of employees, still require council approval.
Edwards also took her oath of office for city manager Monday night, but the oath was given before the official start of the meeting. Later in the meeting, council approved a motion to send the updated charter changes to the Cherokee County delegation for approval by state legislature, which convenes in January. During the discussion of the updated charter changes, Council Member Jackie Jarrett questioned the move. Responding, Council Member Duane Cronic said that sending the changes—including the creation of the city manager position—would ensure that all changes made in the last two or three years are legal. Council passed the motion to send the changes unanimously.
Later in the meeting, council also approved a budget amendment to clear up an issue for the city’s end-of-the-year audit, which took place from November 7th to the 26th.
Last December, mold was found under the entire floor of city hall. At the time, the city only allocated $1000 for the repairs, but the total cost was approximately $40,000. Following the transfer from the reserves fund for the repairs, the reserve fund retained approximately $40,000. Nelson was over budget $39,000 due to these repairs from July first to June 30th.
“This is not a physical transferring of money,”
“There is not $40,000 coming out of our budget right now…We just have to allot to the auditors that we accounted for that, even though it was paid for at the time.”