The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) postponed its May 17 meeting to May 31 after three commissioners voted in favor of the change during a special called meeting Friday.
Commissioners John Douglas, District 1, Lanier Sims, District 2 and Levie Maddox, District 5 voted to move the meeting, Nancy Schulz, District 3 voted against it and J.C. Henderson, District 4 abstained.
Douglas made the motion, sighting the commissioners needed time to “cool off” after a tumultuous meeting Wednesday night, in which the finances of the Nelson Heights Community Center were discussed by a forensic auditor.
“After the meeting the other night, I think it’s wise to separate for a while,” Douglas said. “[We need to] get our wits about us and try to come back and conduct county business.”
Sims also gave his reason for postponing the meeting, but it was different than Douglas’s explanation.
“Our county attorney, Miss Megan Martin, will be out of town,” Sims said. “I talked with her for quite some time yesterday and I know we have a huge agenda coming up. I prefer to have her here for the four or five hours, or however long we are going to be meeting. She has the history and background on the issues we are dealing with now. I just feel we’re better represented [with her here].
Schulz, who along with Maddox, is running for election in the upcoming May 24 primary, said she was “adamantly opposed” to rescheduling the meeting.
“I believe we were hired to do the public’s work,” Schulz said. “I also think as we continue to reschedule meetings and postpone meetings, we are just protracting our jobs. When meetings go excessively long, we don’t make good decisions, and it is not good for the citizens.”
The BOC’s previous regularly scheduled meeting was held on April 19 and was the only one for the month. That meeting had 34 items, including call to order and adjournment, featured several tense moments and lasted until 2:05 a.m., including executive session.
Friday, Chair Keith Ellis said he did not support the board’s vote, adding that there were already 23 items on the tentative agenda for the meeting that had been scheduled for May 17. Many of those items, he said, are time sensitive and include four zoning hearings, an update on the Hwy. 278 Community Improvement District, a motion concerning an insurance carrier for the county and the purchase of gear for the Newton County Fire Services.
Henderson sighted his reason for not voting as “I’m not with these people.”
Maddox did not comment on the motion of postponing the meeting, which he seconded.