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Settlement or fight coming over PTC mayor's pay cut

Will the Peachtree City Council cut a deal with Mayor Don Haddix to avoid a lawsuit over the unprecedented pay cut he was given in May, or will they hire an attorney and battle a potential lawsuit in the matter?

The answer is expected tomorrow night after council discusses the matter in executive session and takes one of two actions: approval of a “proposed settlement agreement” or paying an outside attorney to represent the city in the matter. Both options are on the table on an amended council agenda as the city took the unusual step of itemizing the executive session discussion and options on a revised council agenda for Thursday night’s meeting that was published Wednesday morning.

The executive (closed) session is slated to occur at the end of the meeting. Per Georgia law, any vote by council must occur in open session, so any decision will be a matter of public record.

In May, council voted to cut Haddix’s pay from $750 a month to just under $75 a month, and they continued that pay cut by making it a part of this year’s city budget. The pay cuts were a reaction to recoup nearly $10,000 in legal fees the city paid to litigate and settle a libel lawsuit filed against Haddix by former Mayor Harold Logsdon.

The city’s risk management agency has denied coverage for the pay dispute and potential lawsuit alleged by Haddix, which means that any legal fees incurred in a potential lawsuit will be borne in full by the taxpayers.

Haddix’s attorney has contended that council had no authority to cut the mayor’s pay in mid-term because city rules require any pay changes to be effective on the subsequent term of office.

The issue of the city paying for Haddix’s legal fees in the libel case was brought about because the risk management agency was convinced to cover the cost of the legal charges and settlement after the case concluded. The agency ruled that since the alleged libelous statement was contained in an email Haddix sent to a city employee, it was an official act Haddix undertook as mayor.

Others contend that Haddix’s labeling of former Mayor Harold Logsdon as “part-drunk” at council meetings was a personal cheap shot and not one deriving from his official duties.

The risk management agency had initially denied Haddix coverage in the libel lawsuit, which caused Haddix to hire his own personal attorney in the case.

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