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Posted: August 18, 2012 6:09 p.m.

County management taking liberties

The daily operations and management of our county are controlled by county regulations, procedures and codes as well as state laws and regulations. These rules and regulations are necessary to the responsible, fair and controlled management of our county. Of course, without the enforcement of these provisions there is anarchy and corruption. The duly elected officers who manage the county in various positions all take an oath of office, sworn to God, to uphold those governing regulations, codes and laws.

The citizens of the county have entrusted the responsibility and good stewardship of our tax money and the intelligent governing of all aspects of issues related to the county in our lives. This function is a prime interest to all the citizens of Newton County.

From time to time some public office holders take it upon themselves to operate outside the prevailing laws and regulations for their own purposes and expediency. When this becomes a repeated act or is done for personal gain, monetary or professional, then we must examine the trust endowed upon that person.

The chairman of the board of commissioners Kathy Morgan, once again has worked outside the established procedures set for the operation of county business and violated rules and procedures for board actions.

The chairman established a new position in the department of public works with an attached salary and job description without the required approval of the board of commissioners or a budgeted line item. The chairman proceeded to advertise the position on the Internet to be filled. The board had no knowledge of these actions taking place.

On July 19, the board of commissioners approved the budget for fiscal year 2013; July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013; Budget Resolution R061912.

The Budget Resolution states;

"...Prohibiting expenditures to exceed actual budgeted appropriations for said expenditures, certain recommended maintenance and operation costs, transportation and road improvements, changes in the Newton County Board of Commissioners Personnel Policy and staffing levels for County Departments, which will become the adopted number of positions for the duration of fiscal year 2013."

There was an open position of assistant roads department director with a salary of $45,280. The position did not require a college degree or professional license. The job description basically covered the daily supervision of road crews and work plans.

The new position in question was deputy director of public works with a starting salary of $49,316 to $75, 089. The position does require a college degree with a Georgia professional engineering license highly preferred. The position description closely follows that of the responsibilities of the county engineer Tom Garrett, who reports to the county manager.

Board of commission meetings were held on July 3 and July 9, at which time there was no mention of a new position by the Chairman Kathy Morgan.

The chairman posted the position on the Internet on July 16.

The commissioners first became aware of the new advertised position on July 18, when citizens began asking questions about the position.

In the board of commissioners meeting held on Aug. 7, a motion was made to amend the agenda to discuss the new position advertised to be filled. The motion was passed by a vote of 4 to 1.

A commissioner requested a ruling from the county attorney Tommy Craig, on the legality of the creation of this new position. He advised that this action was not in compliance with regulations and requirements of the budget resolution.

The new position was closed and removed from the advertisement on the Internet.

The attempt to create this position in the department of public works without approval is clearly another example of this chairman defying the rules and regulations for her own purposes. The chairman obviously feels she can operate above the law. Would this action possibly be an attempt to remove the authority of the chief engineer from the county manager and place under the chairman?

In these times of stress from unemployment, bad economy, rising prices and a devastating burden of foreclosed property in our county, we need leadership that respects our laws and regulations and has no interest in personal agendas or cavalier behavior.


William Perugino is active in local and regional politics and can be reached at 3peruginos@bellsouth.net.

 

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