COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County’s Recreation Commission is no more.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday night and adopted a resolution to dissolve the commission, effective immediately.
The action came after the commission approved bonuses totaling approximately $28,000 to certain employees in December that were later deemed illegal by the county.
The BOC pushed for legislation that would give it power to dissolve the commission shortly after the bonuses were approved. It cleared the Georgia General Assembly on June 24 and was signed by the governor June 30.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, stated, “The Newton County Board of Commissioners, by resolution or ordinance, may dissolve the Newton County Recreation Commission originally created by said board of commissioners. If the Newton County Recreation Commission is dissolved by the Newton County Board of Commissioners, said recreation commission shall cease to exist as of the effective date of the resolution or ordinance, and all assets, debts, rights, and obligations of said recreation commission shall devolve to Newton County.”
The act went into effect July 1 — “the first day of the month following the month in which it is approved by the governor.”
As its final order of business, the recreation commission canceled youth football and cheer for 2020 and finalized a repayment schedule requiring certain employees to pay back bonuses over 18 months with 1% interest to be paid on the 19th month.
After disbanding, the recreation department becomes an arm of the county and will report directly to the county manager.
Longtime County Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who was the lone vote opposing the resolution, said the commission was originally formed to “keep politics out of the recreation department.”
The move effectively reversed any department efforts to depoliticize department decision-making, and such an organizational change should “be put in the hands of the people,” he said.