Mayoral ordinance repealed

Published 8:39 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

Atmore City Council members on Friday officially rescinded an ordinance that would have given certain former mayors — including Howard Shell — deferred compensation in retirement.

They had already attempted to rescind the ordinance on Monday but did not pass a separate ordinance to do so, a move legal experts said was incorrect for municipal government in Alabama.

Alabama League of Municipalities attorney Tracy Roberts said Wednesday that cities must pass a separate ordinance to amend or repeal a previous ordinance.

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Ordinance 05-2004, which was approved in 2004 and allowed for a deferred compensation for former Atmore mayors who have served in the office for at least 16 years and are at least 70 years of age, was deemed unneeded by the council on Monday; however, a new ordinance authorizing the law to be rescinded was not made.

Atmore City Clerk Becca Smith said the council decided to call a special meeting after having city lawyers examine the ordinance and in an effort to ensure the validity of the rescinded item.

Smith said the council suspended the rules and regulations for immediate consideration of the topic and unanimously adopted city ordinance 12-2012, dissolving ordinance 05-2004 entirely.

Earlier in the week, Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said the decision to repeal the item was due to budgeting concerns.

Staff said the “deferred compensation” was not a pension plan and was never paid into by former mayor Howard Shell, who would be eligible for the funds under the then-current ordinance.

Staff said the payments would have come directly from the city’s budget and could be better utilized. Staff also said the payments were not part of this year’s budget.