PORTERDALE, Ga. - The City of Porterdale currently owes Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority over $60,000 as of Wednesday, Aug. 14.
Porterdale had fallen behind in utility payments as confirmed by Mike Hopkins, executive director at Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority. NCWSA was told to work with former Porterdale City Manager Bob Thomson to ensure the city would make payments.
As city manager, Thomson was responsible for a variety of administrative duties to keep the city operating as it should. He was responsible for ensuring the city council’s policies were implemented.
Hopkins stated that Thomson assured him payments would be made; however, the city remains eight months behind in payments as of Wednesday, Aug. 14.
“I didn’t have any reason to doubt him,” Hopkins said.
Thomson met with Hopkins Monday, Aug. 5, the day he submitted his letter of resignation. He reassured Hopkins the payments would be made.
“He told us what he told us all along,” Hopkins said. “That he would give us a payment.”
Hopkins assured The Covington News that NCWSA will not disconnect services in Porterdale.
“We fully intend to work with them [the city] the best way possible,” Hopkins said.
Thomson resigned Monday, Aug. 5 after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened a forgery investigation Thursday, Aug. 1. He knew the city had "lost confidence" in his work, according to his resignation letter.
"Given that fact and the need for city business to continue, I would like to offer my letter of resignation at this time," Thomson wrote.
Thomson’s letter of resignation was approved 4-0 during a special called meeting Monday, Aug. 12. The council members had been unaware of any wrongdoing within the city until recently.
"We had no idea there were any delinquencies," Mayor Arline Chapman said during the meeting.
Council members Linda Finger, Tim Savage, Mike Harper and Lowell Chambers voted to approve the letter. Council member Terry Gray abstained from voting.
Thomson allegedly signed Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman's name on checks, but the GBI has not confirmed this allegation. The GBI can only confirm what has already been stated on the face sheet, according to GBI Office of Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles.
"At this time, I don't have any comments," Chapman told The Covington News.
The GBI investigation was opened after Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon requested the GBI conduct a forgery investigation involving the City of Porterdale Wednesday, July 31, according to the GBI face sheet.
"Very generally, the scope of the investigation involves city funds and the authorization of spending of said funds," Zon said.
Two executive sessions for personnel were held during the City of Porterdale July 18 work session and Aug. 5 meeting.
Thomson had previously confirmed to The News Friday, July 19 that the executive sessions were in reference to allegations of him using his government-issued credit card for personal spending. He told The News that the charges were being questioned due to missing receipts and assured everything was fine.
The News reached out to Chapman Friday, July 19 about the allegations mentioned during the executive session.
Chapman had been unable to comment because “most of that issue was discussed in executive session,” she said. “Therefore, I am very limited in my ability to discuss that.”
Editor and Publisher Jackie Gutknecht contributed to this report.