ELLINGTON, P. J., ANDREWS and RICKMAN, JJ.
Ellington, Presiding Judge.
Ivey, in his official capacity as mayor of the City of
Warrenton, filed a complaint seeking declaratory and
injunctive relief against the Appellees in their official
capacity as City councilmembers. Ivey contended that the
City's council (the "Council") had enacted or
amended certain City ordinances in an attempt to usurp the
powers of the City's mayor (the "Mayor") as set
forth in the City's charter (the "Charter"),
and that those ordinances are inconsistent with the Charter
and therefore void. Following a hearing, the trial court
found portions of two of the City's General Ordinances to
be inconsistent with the Charter and enjoined the Appellees
from enforcing them. The trial court found that the other
challenged ordinances did not conflict with the Charter,
although it ordered that the Appellees rescind two of them.
The trial court also awarded Ivey attorney fees. On appeal,
Ivey contends that trial court erred in concluding that
certain of the City's General Ordinances did not conflict
with the Charter. He also claims that the trial court failed
to award reasonable attorney fees. For the reasons set forth
below, we affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate in part,
and remand the case with direction.
relevant facts are not in dispute. Section 2.10 of the
Charter provides that the governing authority of the City is
"vested in a city council composed of a mayor and five
councilmembers, one of whom shall be the mayor pro
tempore." Ga. L. 1990, p. 4631. Further, under Section 2.16
(b) of the Charter, "the council shall have the
authority to adopt and provide for the execution of such
ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations not
inconsistent with [the] charter, the Constitution and laws of
the State of Georgia[.]" Ga. Laws 1975, pp. 3970, 3981.
The Mayor, under Section 3.10 of the Charter, is the
City's chief executive officer, and possesses "all
the executive and administrative powers contained in [the]
charter." Ga. L. 1975, pp. 3870, 3986.
issue is whether certain of the City's General Ordinances
and attendant policies, as amended or enacted by the Council,
conflict with the Charter. Under OCGA § 36-35-3 (a),
"[t]he governing authority of each municipal corporation
shall have legislative power to adopt clearly reasonable
ordinances, resolutions or regulations . . . which are not
inconsistent with . . . any charter provision applicable
thereto." An ordinance enacted in violation of OCGA
§ 36-35-3 (a) is void. See Georgia Branch,
Associated General Contractors, Inc. v. Atlanta, 253 Ga.
397, 399 (2) (321 S.E.2d 325) (1984); City of Buchanan v.
Pope, 222 Ga.App. 716, 718-719 (1) (b) (476 S.E.2d 53)
interpretation of statutes, ordinances, and charters presents
a question of law for the court, " and is subject to de
novo review on appeal. Lue v. Eady, 297 Ga. 321, 326
(2) (a) (773 S.E.2d 679) (2015). See Expedia, Inc. v.
City of Columbus, 285 Ga. 684, 689 (4) (681 S.E.2d 122)
In construing a legislative act, a court must first look to
the literal meaning of the act. If the language is plain and
does not lead to any absurd or impracticable consequences,
the court simply construes it according to its terms and
conducts no further inquiry. Further, statutes are to be
construed in accordance with their real intent and meaning
and not so strictly as to defeat their legislative purpose,
and statutory construction must square with common sense and
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) City of Atlanta v.
Miller, 256 Ga.App. 819, 820 (1) (569 S.E.2d 907)
(2002). The rules of construction apply to the interpretation
of ordinances as well as statutes. City of Buchanan v.
Pope, 222 Ga.App. at 717 (1).
contends that the trial court committed reversible error in
finding that Section 2-104 of the General Ordinances did not
conflict with Section 3.12 (a) (12) of the
Charter. Although the trial court found that there
was no conflict with the Charter, it also held that the
parties had agreed that the ordinance was no longer necessary
and ordered that it be rescinded. The Appellees represent,
and Ivey does not dispute, that the Council has complied with
the trial court's order and rescinded the portion of
Section 2-104 of the General Ordinances with which Ivey took
exception. A reversal of the trial court's finding that
the now repealed ordinance did not conflict with the Charter
would have no practical benefit to the parties with respect
to Ivey's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief,
nor, in light of our findings in Division 7, infra, as to
Ivey's claim for attorney fees, and the issue is moot.
See, e. g., Babies Right Start v. Ga. Dept. of Pub.
Health, 293 Ga. 553, 555 (2) (a) (748 S.E.2d 404) (2013)
(claims for declaratory and injunctive relief had become moot
on appeal because the requested relief would have no effect);
Forbes v. Lovett, 227 Ga. 772, 775 (183 S.E.2d 371)
(1971) (appellants had no legal right to claimed appointment
to civil service board where the ordinance on which they
relied had been repealed, and argument on appeal that the
defendants were under a legal duty to appoint appellants at
the time the ordinance was in effect was moot where the
repealing legislation had become effective).
contends that the trial court committed reversible error in
finding that Sections 2-204 and 3-106 (6) of the General
Ordinances did not conflict with Section 3.12 of the
Charter. The trial court, although it did not find
a conflict between these General Ordinances and the Charter,
directed that the provision at issue, which was present in
both of the challenged ordinances, be rescinded as
unnecessary. The Appellees represent, and Ivey does not deny,
that the Council has now complied with the trial court's
order. Accordingly, and for the reasons also set forth in
Division 1, supra, the issue is moot.
contends that the trial court erred in concluding that
Sections 3-214, 3-215, and 3-216 of the General Ordinances do
not conflict with the Charter. Relevant to this claim,
Section 3.12 (a) (2) of Charter provides, in pertinent part,
that "the mayor shall . . . [a]ppoint and remove all
officers, department heads, and employees of the city except
as otherwise provided in this charter." Ga. L. 1975, pp.
3970, 3986-3987. As to those exceptions, the Charter provides
that the Council is authorized to appoint the city attorney,
a clerk of council, a tax collector, and a city accountant,
who serve at the Council's pleasure as the appointing
authority. Ga. L. 1975, pp. 3970, 3989 (Section 3.20 (c)),
3991 (Section 3.22); Ga. L. 1990, pp. 4361-4362 (Section
2.20). Further, Section 3.30 of the Charter provides:
"The council shall adopt rules and regulations
consistent with the charter concerning personnel policies as
may be necessary to provide for adequate and systematic
handling of the personnel affairs of the City[.]" Ga. L.
1975, pp. 3970, 3991.
Section 3-214 of the General Ordinances sets forth a
procedure for termination of an employee or official which
includes, following notice, a disciplinary hearing "over
which the Mayor shall preside and serve as the decision
maker." Although the disciplinary hearing process may be
instituted by recommendation of a department supervisor and
the city administrator, as well as the Mayor, the ordinance
does not infringe on the power of the Mayor to appoint and
remove, as contemplated by the Charter. Rather, the ordinance
introduces a personnel policy which provides for notice and a
hearing to the employee, while the Mayor, as the decision
maker, retains the power to remove the employee or official.
The trial court properly concluded that Section 3-214 of the
General Ordinances did not conflict with the Charter.
now turn to Sections 3-215 and 3-216 of the General
Ordinances. Section 3-215 provides that "[t]ermination
and dismissal of city personnel, instituted at the direction
of the Mayor, shall only be exercised at a regularly
scheduled Council meeting, " and provides for an appeal
of the termination by "[a]ny employee or official . . .
to the City Council, immediately at the Council meeting
during which the employee was terminated." Section 3-216
contemplates that any personnel subjected to termination may
appeal the dismissal at any regularly scheduled council
meeting. As to an appeal of termination, Section 3-216
provides that "[t]he Council may uphold, reverse, or
modify the termination of the employee by majority vote of
the Council, requiring three votes in favor of the
the disciplinary procedure set forth in Section 3-214, the
appeal procedure contemplated by Sections 3-215 and 3-216 of
the General Ordinances affords the Council with the
discretion to nullify the termination decisions of the Mayor.
The trial court found no conflict with the Charter because
the Mayor, notwithstanding the employee's right to
appeal, retains the right to appoint and remove, "and
makes the final decision." But the Mayor can hardly be
said to be the final arbiter when his or her removal
decisions are subject to Council approval.Section 3.30 of
the Charter, when read in conjunction with 3.12 (a) (2) of
the Charter, does not contemplate that the Council, in
exercising its authority to implement a personnel policy, may
reserve for itself the power to overturn the ...