Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan was not in attendance at tonight's city council meeting when Gainesville City Attorney Abbott Hayes presented findings that point to city code and charter violations by Grogan.
In the report Hayes delivered to the city council, Grogan was found to have made seven decisions that Hayes and the council agree are grounds for Grogan to be removed from office.
The items Hayes discussed were the mayor's "unilateral" decisions to reduce rezoning fees for five property owners who applied to annex land into the city without council approval; signing off on charging Rep. Kevin Tanner a reduced rate for water, sewer and garbage for a commercial building in the city; approving payment to nonprofit organizations for golf tournaments in which Grogan participated as player; using a city credit card to purchase alcohol and gas while traveling on city business; submitting and approving payments for meetings that were not pre-approved for compensation by the council; and purchasing alcohol for door prizes at a Georgia Mountain Regional Commission meeting.
All of the offenses were found by Hayes to be in violation of Section 5.15 of the city charter, which provides that the mayor "shall be subject to removal from office for any one or more of the following causes: (1) Incompetence, misfeasance, or malfeasance in office; (5) Abandonment of office or neglect to perform the duties thereof; or (6) Failure to for any other cause perform the duties of office as required by this Charter or by law."
When Hayes finished his presentation, City Council Member Caleb Phillips asked City Attorney Dana Miles what the next step was in light of the findings.
"I think you've got a couple of choices under your charter" Miles said. "First, you can do nothing, or choose to do nothing. Second, you could begin the process for removal of the mayor from office. Under Section 5.16 of the charter, basically what would happen is that would require a vote from this body tonight to begin that process."
Miles further explained that the mayor would then be given written notice of the grounds for removal, which could be the written report by Hayes of exactly what is being claimed. A hearing date and time would have to be scheduled no less than 10 days from the time the mayor received the written notice.
"At that time, Mr. Hayes would present his findings like he has this evening, and the mayor would be entitled to present whatever he wanted in response to that," Miles said. "This council would then take a vote, and by a two-thirds or larger majority to remove him from office he is removed. Under the code, he has the right to appeal that decision to the Dawson County Superior Court."
Phillips made a motion to begin the removal of Grogan from office, with a hearing set for May 15 at 3 p.m. Council Member Angie Smith seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.
The council voted April 3 to hire Hayes after discrepancies with fees that the city previously charged constituents were brought up in March.
The mayor's decision to charge reduced zoning fees brought up the issue of there being no set annexation fee, and the council has been working with Miles to create a new annexation fee as well as make other amendments to the city zoning fee schedule.
The council also voted tonight to table any decision on new annexation rates until the June 5 meeting, and have scheduled an additional work session for May 22 to address concerns of some Gold Creek homeowners who have contacted the city about annexing.
This story will be updated. Check back later and in Wednesday's edition of the Dawson County News.