Daphne council rejects director probation waiver


DAPHNE – City Council members acknowledged that the outgoing mayor can appoint a public works director but said that he cannot waive the probation period for the new employee.

The Daphne City Council voted 7-0 on Monday, Oct. 19 to not recognize a proposal by Mayor Dane Haygood to waive the probation period for a new public service director. Haygood was not present at the Oct. 19 meeting, but officials said he had offered the director’s position to Brandon Knight, who had been working in Florida.

Councilman Pat Rudicell said eliminating the probation period is outside the mayor’s authority.

“The motion is to direct the city attorney or HR to advise the mayor’s hire of a public works director, that the City Council does not recognize that the mayor has the authority to waive the city’s six-month probationary period for new hires and consider such waivers to exceed the scope of the mayor’s authority and that if the applicant accepts the employment, he does so subject to the city policy on the probationary term,” Rudicell said making the motion.

Haygood did not run for re-election. His term ends Nov. 2 when he will be replaced by Council President Robin LeJeune, who won the four-person race for mayor.

In September, Public Works Director Jeremy Sasser resigned to take another position outside the city. The council voted Sept. 8 to ask Haygood to not make any appointments until a new mayor is elected.

Councilman Ron Scott said Oct. 19 that the mayor has the authority to appoint a new public works director. A mayor cannot, however, waive the probation period set in the city employee handbook.

“The employee handbook is an ordinance and the ordinance was passed by the council and it was signed by the mayor,” Scott said. “If the mayor disagreed with it, he had every right to veto it and then it would have been up to us to either override his veto or not. But it, in the terminology in the handbook, says that there will be a probationary period. It doesn’t say there can be or might be. It says there will be a probationary period and to the knowledge of the collective minds in this building, there has never been a waiver for any employee in the history of the city of Daphne.”

Councilwoman Angie Phillips said waiving the probation period would set a bad precedent.

“It would never be in the city’s best interest that I can conceive that we would waive the probationary period for a new employee, so we are looking out for the city’s best interests in upholding that point that is in our council-approved employee handbook,” Phillips said.

Councilman Doug Goodlin said the council’s issue was procedure and was not a reflection on the candidate for the director’s position.

“Our action has nothing to do with the new hire,” Goodlin said. “We don’t know him. We’ve never met him. We’re not prejudging him. We just want to be fair to all hires and we just don’t think it’s fair to do that.”