Commissioners vote 4-2 to fire Rowland, Mayfield

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners voted 4-2 Tuesday night to immediately terminate County Finance Director Carl Rowland and County Human Resources Director Marjorie Mayfield.

Late in Tuesday’s regular board meeting, Commissioner Russell Smith asked County Attorney Brown Moseley if the board had any authority to terminate county employees.

“The county commission is the governing authority of the county,” Moseley said. “Absent some other ordinance or local legislation or act that would modify that, you certainly have the authority to take any action of any personnel within the county.”

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Smith made a motion to fire Rowland, citing the recent $103,000 lawsuit ruling against the county, which he suggested could have been avoided had Rowland taken different actions. Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely seconded the motion.

During discussion of the motion, Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry stated that the county’s human resources policy manual set a hierarchy for discipline. He said that department heads discipline the employees in their departments, and the county administrator disciplines the department heads. He also stated that Rowland’s work in the finance department had helped save the county more than $12 million, from 2006 to 2012.

Interim County Administrator Gary Breedlove said he had investigated the matter and felt no need to terminate Rowland.

“Just to be perfectly clear, I have declined to terminate Mr. Rowland,” he said.

When the motion came to a vote, Mosely, Smith and Commissioners Oliver Sellers and Frank Loeffler voted to fire Rowland. Perry and Commission Chairman Dr. Charles T. Stafford voted against the termination.

“There is a process that I think is due the employee, and we will implement that process as specified by the human resources manual,” Stafford said.

After the vote, Sellers made a motion to fire Mayfield, and Mosely seconded that motion.

“I make a motion to terminate Mrs. Mayfield for violation of (the human resources policy against) making false written or oral statements with respect to the county’s activities,” Sellers said. “This is concerning the overpayment of Tom Patton.”

Once again, the vote was Mosely, Smith, Sellers and Loeffler in favor, and Perry and Stafford against.

“I think we are violating county procedures when we do this,” Perry said. “We don’t have an ordinance, but we have a standards of practice that we have been following, and I think the Board of Commissioners is totally out of hand to interfere with the responsibilities and the duties of the administrator.”

Later in the meeting, Breedlove said he appreciated the assistance Mayfield and Rowland provided to him.

“Out of professional responsibility, I want to say to you that when I came here, I knew it would be challenging,” he said. “Mr. Rowland and Mrs. Mayfield have been invaluable to me in getting up to speed. I thought I was getting to where I could handle some of the challenges, but it looks like it’s going to get more challenging. That’s all I have to say.”

Rowland addressed the action after Tuesday’s meeting, while Mayfield declined to comment “at this time.”

“Their action of firing me is inappropriate and unfair,” Rowland said.
Stafford said it was not clear how Rowland’s and Mayfield’s duties would be handled by the county in the interim, but stated it would require some “restructuring.”

“We’ll have to restructure again, and some people will have to take on additional duties,” he said.