Two years ago, a majority vote by the Newton County Board of Commissioners stripped then-Chairwoman Kathy Morgan of most of her powers and created a county manager form of government.
One of the few government functions left under a chairman’s power was the public works department. In a story last Sunday, we detailed some of the restructuring efforts, enacted by Chairman Keith Ellis and new Transportation Director Tom Garrett, which have led to more paving work around the county despite having eight fewer employees across the public works, engineering and fleet maintenance departments.
We were pleased to hear about the increased efficiency, as that’s something every organization should strive to achieve.
Ellis, who has some background in construction, has consistently focused on trying to get more road work done in Newton County, whether it’s by increasing efficiency or working with the state on more projects, thereby bringing more outside dollars into the county.
With the exception of a few major routes, most people are going to be impressed only when the roads they use are paved. Citizens are complaining about areas that haven’t been paved for more than a quarter-century. That’s something elected officials will always have to deal with.
Newton County is a comparatively large county when it comes to landmass and roads, but we hope the chairman will use the newfound productivity to address citizens’ concerns. At the same time, elected officials are elected to make the tough decisions, and we expect public money to be used wisely on the projects of highest importance.
We appreciate the chairman’s efforts, but we know there’s a long way to go. We hope he and County Manager John Middleton will continue to promote an attitude of efficiency and savings across the entire county.