COVINGTON, Ga. – The Newton County Board Commissioners (BOC) unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to pare the number of voting members on the Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) from seven to five with the agreement that it will be raised back to seven in August.
With the resignations of members Sharon Sawyer in May and Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston in April, the SWMA currently has five voting members. Three of the five are also BOC members. County Attorney Megan Martin told commissioners that in order for the SWMA to be in compliance with its bylaws, it was necessary to modify the bylaws to match the current number of members. Martin said the resolution would not prohibit the BOC from expanding the SWMA at a later date if it chooses to do so.
“This resolution does not change the Board’s (BOC) ability to reconstitute a larger board (SWMA) at a later date if the Board (BOC) chose to do so,” she said.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she supported the resolution to shrink the SWMA in order to be in compliance with the bylaws, but citing public concerns about the current make-up of the SWMA, suggested the BOC consider expanding the number by August.
“I don’t have a problem if we accept this resolution somewhat as a temporary resolution with the understanding that within a defined period of time, not just in the future, but say, by our first Board meeting in August, we would resume a seven-member board or eight-member board,” she said.
Schulz said the original purpose of the SWMA was to have public representation. She said the current five-member board with more BOC members than public representatives lacked balance.
Commissioner Ronnie Cowan echoed Schulz’s sentiments.
“I do understand the public’s concerns and I do understand balance,” he said, “the intent was not to be where it was just merely an extension of the Board of Commissioners. It was designed to have public input. I would have to agree with Commissioner Schulz that we need to take another look at this. I’m for a balanced system.”
The resolution approved by the BOC calls for the SWMA to be expanded to seven voting members, including a voting chairman in August. The chairman of the authority will be selected by members after the expanded SWMA is seated. The chairman’s position came open Monday with the resignation of Wayne Haynie.
Martin said until the SWMA is expanded, it will operate with five members.