COVINGTON, Ga. - The City of Covington has no control over appointments to the Newton County Recreation Commission Board even though the city has historically had a representative on the board, City Attorney Frank Turner told The Covington News Wednesday.
“There has been some discussion about the changes that have gone on with the rec. board. One of the things that I want to make very clear with this council is your mayor and us as a group have absolutely no authority over that situation whatsoever, including the nomination or the selection of a representative of the City of Covington,” Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said during the council's Jan. 17 meeting. “In 1999 that changed as far as how that board was organized.
“We’ll see how that plays out, but we have no authority to make changes.”
Turner said from 1962 to 1999 the city and county had a joint recreation authority and the mayor made two appointments and the county chairman made two appointments.
In 1995 the city entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the county to get out of the recreation business and transitioned it all to the county, he said. The funding from the city went down each year from 1995 to 2000, the first year it was completely county-operated.
In 1999 the county set up its own recreation board under state law and OCGA 36-64-5 makes the point that when the county sets up a recreation board, only the board chairman has the authority to appoint members, Turner said.
Also in that 1999 agreement, the provision was added to say the board of commissioners furnishes a liaison member and the city furnishes a member, but state law states only the chairman can actually appoint members.
“My legal opinion and the county attorney’s opinion is that the city furnishes a name, but the chairman is the only person who can legally put them on there,” Turner said.
Currently, Councilman Josh McKelvey serves as the city’s representation on the NCRC board. Johnston received a letter from Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes earlier this week announcing his consideration of removing McKelvey from the board for his role in the termination of then-Recreation Director Anthony Avery.