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No issues found in JDA finances
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In a study of the Joint Development Authority’s (JDA) financial transactions, in particular bonds, no illegalities or potential liability to Newton County were discovered, according to attorney Roger Murray.

Murray was brought on by Newton County’s interim law firm, Jarrard and Davis, LLP, to conduct a financial transaction study on the JDA. Murray presented his findings to the board of commissioners Tuesday.

“Newton County has no actual or potential liability with respect to bonds,” Murray said to the BOC. How the bonds were issued is of no economic substance.

“I know you have a lot of things to worry about, and this is not one of them.”

Murray reviewed an article posted on the blog Taxpayers Watchdog Group, entitled Nine Men lie and Deceived the four counties of Jasper, Newton, Morgan, and Walton; the cease and desist response from the JDA and emails from concerned citizens. He also had conversations with the JDA’s attorney and accountant; reviewed financial statements from the JDA; reviewed the inducement agreement provided by the JDA, minutes and materials from the JDA’s May 22 meeting; reviewed the bond resolution adopted by the JDA on June 21 and reviewed the JDA’s trust agreement.

“My findings were: first, the bond issue was done in accordance with the laws in the state of Georgia; second, the bond issue has absolutely no economic substance … Newton County has no actual or potential liability with respect to the bonds … and fourth, the citizens of Newton County have had ample notice of issue of the bonds.”

The review of the JDA’s financial transaction was requested by the board of commissioners at the Jan. 21 meeting upon a vote on a motion to help pay for a $2.6 million loan from the Bank of Madison to the JDA. The JDA requested the boards of Newton, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties pass a motion to pay back a loan, which funded the construction of Baxalta Parkway, with taxes due from Baxalta.

The loans passed in each of the four counties, including Newton, which passed the motion 3-2, and requested the financial review.