The Oct. 20 firing of former Pickerington city manager Tim Hansley served as an exercise in the rules and procedures of city and state laws.

The Oct. 20 firing of former Pickerington city manager Tim Hansley served as an exercise in the rules and procedures of city and state laws.


City charter

Hansley told ThisWeek he believes he was fired because his interpretation of what he was required to do as city manager differs from that of some elected city officials.

Pickerington has a mayor-council/manager form of government.

According to the Pickerington city charter, the mayor is elected by popular vote, performs ceremonial functions, recommends appointment of a city manager and acts as that person's supervisor. The mayor also is the presiding officer of council and is an ex-officio member of all council committees. The mayor appoints the clerk of court and may veto council-passed legislation.

The city manager is the chief administrator of the city. He or she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality and municipal employees.

The city charter contains the following provisions outlining the duties of the city manager:

"Except as provided in this charter, and for personnel appointed by council, the mayor, the council and its members shall deal with the administrative employees, except for the municipal clerk, solely through the city manager.

"Neither the mayor, the council nor any member or committee thereof shall give orders to any subordinate of the city manager, either publicly or privately. Any councilperson or the mayor found in violation of any of the provisions of this section may be guilty of malfeasance in office.

"The manager shall be the chief administrative official of the municipality. "The manager shall be responsible to the mayor for the proper administration of all affairs of the municipality and, to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, the manager shall have the power and shall be required to:

Appoint and remove all employees of the municipality in the manner provided in this charter.

Prepare the budget estimates annually, submit them to council, and administer the appropriations adopted by the council.

Prepare and submit to the council and to the public annually, not later than Jan. 31, a complete report of the finances and administrative activities of the municipality for the preceding year.

Keep the council informed of the current financial condition and future needs of the municipality.

Delegate to subordinate employees of the municipality any duties conferred upon the manager by this charter or by action of the council, and hold them responsible for their faithful discharges.

See that the laws and ordinances are enforced."

The popularly elected seven-member city council is the legislative body and possesses exclusive appropriations powers. Council appoints the city's law director, finance director, city engineer and concurs on the mayor's appointment of a city manager. Council also appoints residents to several boards and commissions.

Council also appoints its members to its finance, rules, safety, and service committees, which discuss city issues and craft legislation to be considered by council as a whole.

The city manager appoints all employees not appointed by council.

Hansley was dismissed following an executive session involving Pickerington City Council members and Mayor Mitch O'Brien.


Executive session

By state law, executive sessions are closed to the public. They can be called only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session.

In Ohio, executive sessions can be held to consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee or regulated individual. That person has the right to request a public hearing instead of an executive session.

Executive sessions also can be convened to consider the purchase of property for public purposes, or for the sale of property at competitive bidding, if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair advantage to someone whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest.

Additionally, municipal governments can call executive sessions:

To convene with an attorney to discuss disputes involving the public body that are the subject of pending or imminent court action.

To prepare for, conduct or review negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment.

For matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or regulations or state statutes.

To discuss details related to security arrangements and emergency response protocols for a public body or a public office, or if disclosure of the matters discussed could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the security of the public body or public office.

Following the Oct. 20 executive session, council reconvened in open session and voted 4-3 to fire Hansley.

Because he was an executive officer of the city, Hansley only could be fired if a "super majority" of council -- or at least five members -- supported the action. Since there was no "super majority," Mayor O'Brien was called on to cast the deciding vote and he voted to dismiss Hansley.