The Canton City Council voted 3-2 in favor of making Cummins the full-time city manager, with Council members Bill Grant and Sandy McGrew opposed, and Cummins abstaining from the vote.
Cummins is set to make an annual salary of $120,000, based on the employment agreement obtained by The Tribune.
The decision to hire Cummins as the full-time city manager comes on the heels of an active ethics complaint made against him, which is now under review.
Grant was the only council member to comment before the vote was taken.
He said his “objections are not personal at all, in nature,” and he would have the same questions for anyone considered for the position.
“My primary concern is the desire to have an outside and fresh perspective on all issues that impact the future of our city,” Grant said, adding “objectivity will be a challenge” since Cummins had already taken sides on many issues as a city councilman.
Grant noted the active ethics complaint against
Cummins, and said “while it’s not our place to judge,” it is the council’s obligation to make sure all ethics complaints are taken seriously.
“I’m uncomfortable moving forward on this vote when we have an active ethics complaint in process,” Grant said.
The crowd of about 40 people at the meeting applauded after Grant’s comments.
Cummins said he joined the City Council with “one intention — and that was to make improvements to this city.”
“As I move from one chair to another chair, the intention is exactly the same,” Cummins said after the council voted to select him as the new city manager Thursday. “I hereby submit my resignation from the city council, effective immediately.”
Cummins promptly stood up from his chair during the meeting and walked to a different chair not reserved for a council member.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said the council would be asked to vote at the July 17 meeting to call a special election to fill the now vacant seat. Hobgood said the election would be held during the November primary election.
“Whoever is selected in the special election would take office immediately,” Hobgood said. “They won’t be waiting to be sworn in in January; they will take office immediately.”
No members of the public spoke during the portion of the meeting set aside for comments before the council voted on the city manager position.
Earlier in the week, Hobgood appointed two council members to review the ethics complaint made about Cummins in June, to determine whether or not to send it on to the city ethics board.
McGrew and fellow council member Jack Goodwin were appointed to work with City Attorney Bobby Dyer to review the complaint.
A Canton resident filed the ethics complaint with Hobgood in June and accused Cummins of abusing his role as a council member and interim city manager to become the finalist for the city manager job.
Cummins, then a councilman, was hired to act as the interim city manager in January after City Manager Scott Wood resigned.
As a councilman, Cummins received an $8,000 annual salary. When he was hired to act as the interim city manager in January, he began receiving an additional $112,000 annually, making his total annual salary $120,000.
Cummins applied for the job permanently in May and was named the sole finalist for the position.
In the complaint, resident Andy Potts accused Cummins of violating city ethics, which states officials can’t benefit privately from their roles in office.
Potts said Cummins should have stepped down from the council when he applied for the permanent city manager position.
Hobgood said the “only two options for punishment, should it be found valid by the ethics committee,” are a reprimand or censure. Hobgood said even though Cummins is no longer a councilman, the complaint should still be addressed.
“It’s not like somebody would lose their job,” Hobgood said. “But we have a citizen complaint out there. It probably ought to be resolved, even though he’s moved on to another thing … It would be best if that were resolved one way or the other.”
If McGrew, Goodwin and Dyer determine the ethics complaint made about Cummins is valid, it will be sent to a city ethics board to decide on either a reprimand or censure for the official who violated ethics ordinances, officials said.
The meeting of the complaint review committee will be open to the public, Hobgood said. The date for the meeting had not been announced Thursday.