The city council unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment to the Roswell Code of Ordinances, altering an administrative section outlining the compensation of elected officials.
“This amendment to the ordinance will allow for the judge to be approved into a position where he can be paid on a per session [basis] rather than a salary,” said Deputy City Administrator Michael Fischer. “The compensation of the judge will be set by resolution by the mayor and the council, which is actually what’s in the charter.”
Fischer said a paid-per-session judge could handle the court’s workload at a savings to the city. Pending a sizable increase in cases, he also said sessions could be moved around and, if need be, more money could be procured through a budget amendment.
“If there’s a judge that would have to fill in because the elected judge could not be here,” he said, “it would be the same amount of money, regardless of whether or not it’s a substitute judge.”
Councilwoman Betty Price asked about the extent of the Roswell municipal judge’s duties.
“There’s some questions from a number of people whether or not the chief judge is permitted to practice law if this is a full-time position,” Price said.
City Attorney David Davidson said the ordinance amendment does not change how the chief judge’s position is “characterized.”
“I know our current elected judge has talked to the Judicial Qualifications Commission judges throughout the state,” he said. “They’ve said ‘it doesn’t say anything in your charter, it doesn’t say anything in the ordinance … you’re free to practice.’”
Mayor Jere Wood weighed in. “The way it currently reads is if he’s not in court or not over here in City Hall, he can practice law,” he said. “Whether it’s the chief judge or the other fill-in judges, this does not limit their practice of law to serving the city through City Hall.”
A second reading of the ordinance amendment, followed by a resolution vote, is set for an Aug. 25 council meeting.
A slate of transportation agenda items were also approved at Monday’s meeting.
As part of the Sun Valley Road project, a $200,000 change order for the design contract with McGee Partners was given unanimous approval. As part of the Historic Gateway Project, another $200,000 change order was unanimously approved for a Parsons Brinckerhoff design contract.
Also given unanimous approval was a change order to add 2014 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant roads to an existing Blunt Construction Co. contract for $910,000. With Price as the sole dissenter, the council voted 5-1 to approve a $296,000 change order to a RJ Haynie and Associates contract to add a half-dozen intersections to the SR140/SR92 Advanced Transportation Management System.