City commissioners express concern that he exceeded powers of office
By Legion Taylor
St. Marks Mayor Paul Sheddan was removed from office at the city commission meeting last week, as a result of a 3-0 vote from the members of the commission who were present. They selected Steve Remke to take over as Mayor of St. Marks in a following vote, which also passed 3-0.
Commissioners Dan Albers and Sheddan were absent from the meeting, leaving Mayor Remke, Commissioner Paula Bell, and Commissioner Sharon Rudd to decide on these issues.
Rudd in particular spoke to the crowd of people who came to the meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, stating that she and the commission as a whole feel that the community’s trust has eroded, and that the only way to build it up again is to replace the current leadership.
Members of the city commission said that while they feel Sheddan cares for the community, certain recent events, which were left unspecified, have made it clear that he is not the right person for the position.
Remke specifically read out a list of the powers of the mayor as listed in the city charter, stating that the mayor has very little formal power over anything other than presiding over the city commission meetings, implying that Sheddan had perhaps abused the power of the mayor’s office in some way, although again no particular events were brought up as reasoning.
The citizens of St. Marks also created a recall petition to completely remove Sheddan from the commission, which contained a list of grievances that the community had with the mayor. This included times where they say he shouted at citizens who came to speak at meetings, times where they say he publicly humiliated those who disagreed with him, as well as an instance where he tried to use his position as mayor to get special treatment in the form of a reserved parking space outside of Bo Lynn’s grocery. This petition, which as of the meeting had only existed for around a day and a half, had already gathered 43 signatures of St. Mark’s 268 total registered voters.
Some citizens also expressed concerned about rumors that Sheddan was going to try and fire City Manager Zoe Mansfield at the meeting.
Neither Sheddan nor Mansfield were present, so there was never action taken to fire her, but the city commission did stress that they had some problems with the way she was doing her job, but were willing to work it out with her rather than outright fire her.
The citizens at the meeting made it very clear they stood in support of Mansfield, and felt that it was unfair of the commission to consider firing her, but as Sheddan was not present to propose a motion, no action was taken in any direction at this time.
There were some concerns that her application of certain rules was inconsistent, particularly around building permits, but citizens felt that these accusations were for the most part baseless.
Many people, including Tim Roach, who spoke out about the water rate increases at previous meetings, thought that Mansfield had done a very good job during her 23 years as city manager, citing her consistently flawless audits as evidence of her effectiveness, and that attempting to fire her now is unreasonable, especially since she’ll be retiring in a matter of months.
In other matters:
- Mayor Remke brought up a pole barn that was on a separate parcel of land from its adjacent house, both of which were owned by the same person. He suggested that the city adopt a Unity of Title, which would make it so that parcels of land that contain accessory structures could not be sold separate from the land that the main home is on. This way, it won’t be possible to separate accessory structures from a primary residence, and the sale of land won’t violate the city charter. They decided to discuss this further in a workshop prior to the December meeting.
- The city commission decided to have a planning and zoning commission meeting before the December regular meeting, as well as the Unity of Title workshop.
- The city commission informally decided that all permits for new construction have to be looked over by the city attorney to assure they don’t violate any rules laid out in the city charter. This is because there have been issues with improperly approved construction and improvements, specifically the issue of one man bringing in 50 or so dump trucks of dirt to raise the level of his land, which created a bit of a flooding hazard for the surrounding properties, when he had not gotten proper approval to do so.
- Commissioner Bell was appointed Treasurer by a 3-0 vote.
- Commissioner Bell asked that the city manager and clerk write up a list of standard operating procedures for the city hall office, so that if something happens there’s a list of duties and protocols for someone to follow should they need to take over operation of the office.
- A citizen asked for a notice of city meetings to be regularly posted at the St. Marks post office, so that more citizens can be informed about when meetings are taking place.