BAKER — The newly seated City Council nullified Mayor Harold Rideau’s appointments to key city positions Tuesday, but the effect of the council’s votes remains unresolved.
Rideau appointed Ken Fabre as city attorney and Monise Scott as city treasurer on June 26, with the approval of three council members who were leaving office when their terms ended June 30.
The council, in its first meeting, declared the offices of city attorney, city treasurer and city prosecutor “vacant,” although Fabre, giving legal advice based on the city charter, said the “declarations have no legal effect.”
The city charter gives the mayor the authority to appoint the three, with the concurrence of the council, Fabre said.
The five members starting new terms objected to the departing members approving the appointments instead of themselves.
“You know what brought all this on? We got our feelings hurt,” Councilman Pete Heine said. “We need to get beyond this.”
The council also voted to approve contracts for an interim city attorney and interim city prosecutor, although Fabre said the council has no authority under the charter to enter into contracts.
“A declaration is like a resolution,” Fabre said, but told the council members, “I understand your beef.”
The council members said they want to get the issues resolved by Aug. 14.
Council members Joyce Burges, Robert Young, John Givens and Charles Vincent joined Heine in voting for the personnel items, while Burges voted for all but one, the declaration that the city attorney’s job is vacant.
The council agreed with Fabre’s suggestion “to declare a truce” and that he remain as both interim city attorney and city prosecutor until the issue is resolved by the council concurring with Rideau’s choices.
“Whatever it takes to move on,” Fabre said.
The mayor, who did not appoint a prosecutor June 26, said he is taking applications from lawyers interested in the job. The prosecutor must be a resident and registered voter of Baker.
The charter gives the council the authority to hire its clerk and select a certified public accounting firm to audit the city’s finances each fiscal year.
The outgoing council named Angela Canady the clerk last month and selected Mary Sue Stages to audit the books for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The new members said they will leave Canady in the position until Aug. 14 but also look at other people for the position.
The council also asserted the city auditor’s position is vacant, but the vote on that issue does not change the decision to hire Stages for the last fiscal year’s audit, members said.
The city does not have an internal auditing position, and the outside auditor is hired near the end of the fiscal year. State law requires a governing body to engage an auditor within 60 days after the end of the year.
Vincent said Stages made an error in last year’s audit pertaining to a city department, and said the council should take its time in making the decision “if you find Mrs. Stages not quite appealing to you.”
Heine said he wants Baker’s council clerk to double as a public relations person, saying the city’s image is portrayed negatively and Baker residents help perpetuate that image.
The council also voted with Burges to repeal the former council’s ordinance limiting use of the council chambers, but the action may require a formal repeal ordinance.