Palatka City Commission Debates City Manager’s Employment

The Palatka City Commission convened in a contentious meeting to discuss the employment status of City Manager Troy Bell, with discussions ranging from time-off policy to calls for independent investigations into alleged misconduct. The meeting, which featured a divided commission and public opinion, centered on the need for transparency and accountability within the city’s administration.

The city manager’s employment was the focal point of the meeting, sparking discussion among commissioners, city staff, and community members. Some community members, like Algra Kitchens, called for Bell’s termination over alleged policy violations, while others, including Shelley Shanker, defended his community involvement and accused detractors of dishonesty. Attendees like Tara Givens also raised concerns about procedural issues surrounding the meeting itself.

Further complicating matters, commissioners deliberated the necessity of an independent investigation into the assistant city manager for potential ethics violations and personal gain.

The commission tackled the city manager’s time-off procedures, questioning the transparency of the policy and scrutinizing past requests. The debate underscored the need for a clear and consistent protocol for time-off approval, highlighting discrepancies between actual days off and the records presented.

A point of contention arose over who should authorize the city manager’s time off—Human Resources or the City Clerk. Commissioners also grappled with whether Bell’s community engagement should influence his compensation and how to handle emergency situations that may affect the approval process.

Amidst these discussions, a motion was passed to add an emergency item to the agenda, which triggered a debate on whether an independent investigation into the city manager’s practices was warranted. Concerns were voiced about the work environment and absenteeism under Bell’s management. Legal counsel advised seeking guidance from an outside employment law firm, and a second emergency motion was approved to proceed with this investigation.

The commission also addressed the need for a formal policy to define the process for notifying commissioners of the city manager’s time off and the subsequent approval or denial of these requests. Suggestions included codifying current practices and giving notice to the clerk when the city manager is unavailable. Discussions pointed towards a meeting scheduled for the 25th to deliberate the city manager’s future direction and performance before the end of his probationary period on August 7th.

During the meeting, the city manager defended his leave, stating it adhered to his contractual terms and was taken for family reasons. Despite his defense, the commission decided to press forward with plans for independent investigations into various concerns raised about his administration.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Robbi Correa
City Council Officials:
Tammie McCaskill, Justin Campbell, Will Jones, Rufus Borom, City Manager (City Manager)

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