New approach ahead for governing Stockbridge

The City of Stockbridge is in the process of transforming the way it conducts its business.

A major step in that process, Mayor Lee Stuart has told the Henry Daily Herald, is asking the county's legislative delegation to the Georgia General Assembly to seek a change in the city's form of government to allow for a city administrator.

The mayor and council have filed a notice of intent to get legislative approval for the change in how the city is governed, which will more clearly define the duties of the mayor, and other city administrators.

Stuart said he expects the legislation to "be more specific about whose duties are what."

The request to hire a city administrator, as well as changing the city's governance structure from that of strong mayor, to one featuring a city administrator, comes in the wake of a dispute between Stuart and the city council.

The disagreement led to the mayor filing a lawsuit, last year, regarding his veto power. "My lawsuit has been settled," emphasized the mayor.

"Typically, veto power the mayor is an indicator that it is a strong mayor form of government," said Amy Henderson, public information manager with the Georgia Municipal Association. She said it is difficult to determine how long it will take to make the change in the Stockbridge charter.

"We are making changes; its slow, there are some things getting done behind the scenes," said Stuart.

Stuart said there will be an announcement soon for a city administrator, and he said the city would be seeking "someone with at least 10 years experience in budgeting, project management, planning and zoning."

When the mayor and council met Monday, it was unanimously decided to authorize the advertising of a "notice of intent" to introduce local legislation, allowing the city to request the county's legislative delegation to change the city's structure.

The notice of intent was submitted Tuesday to the county's legal organ, the Henry Daily Herald. It is scheduled to be advertised in the paper on Friday.

Under Georgia law, "No local bill shall become law unless notice of the intention to introduce such bill shall have been advertised in the newspaper in which the sheriff's advertisements for the locality affected are published one time before the bill is introduced."

If the members of the local delegation agree to Stockbridge's proposed charter change, "It can move through [the Georgia General Assembly] fairly quickly and easily," said the GMA's Henderson.