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JDA could pay 2 for their work on Facebook project
Authority discusses payments for Hall, Short for recruiting efforts
Shane Short
Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County, speaks about the work to bring Facebook to Stanton Springs after a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. - photo by Patrick Graham

COVINGTON, Ga. - Shane Short and Serra Hall, the two lead negotiators in bringing Facebook to Stanton Springs, could receive $25,000 each for their efforts if the Joint Development Authority approves what it discussed Thursday at a work session.

The JDA is expected to vote at its April 24 meeting on the fees for the two economic development recruiters. Short is the executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. Hall is the Newton County director of commercial development.

The two work for, and are paid by, their counties’ specific development authorities. But both spent a very high percentage of their time in the past year working on the Facebook deal, which was a JDA project.

Morgan County and Jasper County also are part of the JDA and have their own economic development departments, which were not heavily involved in recruiting Facebook.

Short told the JDA board he worked an average of 32 hours weekly for 10 months ending in February on the Facebook project. He estimated that represented about $85,000 in pay.

Short said he was happy to receive the extra pay, which will be funneled through the Walton authority.

“I am just grateful for what they chose to do,” he said. “I didn’t ask for that, but I think it is very generous.”

JDA Chairman Alan Varner polled the board members on the proposal and none spoke directly against it. Carl Pennamon, the chairman of the Jasper County Commission, questioned whether the payments on top of regular salaries were appropriate.

The board expects to formalize a process to pay for economic development expenses of its member counties so that one or two counties are not expected to pay the expenses in recruiting any future projects.

The JDA also discussed payments to board attorney Andrea Gray. She also serves an administrative role with the board for functions such as taking minutes, preparing the agenda and responding to open records requests.

Gray charges the board $150 per hour for administrative or legal work.

Verner said he supported Gray providing both kinds of work.

“For what Andrea does for us, were are more than getting our money’s worth,” he said.