Portraits of the three county commissioners have recently gone up in several county buildings, prompting questions on the cost and use of county funds.
The seven sets of portraits issued so far cost approximately $2,100 in materials – including portraits, frames, and name plates – and about $250 in labor and time, according to information provided by County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge. Each set includes two 8 by 10 inch portraits of the part time commissioners and one larger 11 by 14 inch portrait of the chairman.
The portraits have been posted at the county courthouse, administration building, Board of Commissioners office, Tax Assessors office and also the human resources office.
Commission Chairman Richard Oden said he made the decision to post the portraits of the county commissioners as a way of letting residents know the identity of the commissioners.
“It’s not an uncommon practice for citizens to know who their commissioners are,” Oden said. He said pictures of the governor and the president are also often posted in government buildings.
Oden said he thought the funds were being drawn from the Public Affairs department and BOC budgets.
When asked about the perception that this was a vanity project, Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon said, “It would be that if you didn’t see it across the nation in all types of jurisdictions… We’re way behind the trend. It was long overdue.”
Pridgeon added the portraits would be changed out as the elected officials changed.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Oden said. “‘Now I put a face with a name.’”
Oden said he had “no comment” to criticism of the portraits.
“These small things, I’m looking at the bigger picture, not the smaller things,” he said.
He added there may be more portraits issued in later phases for additional county buildings.
The county is preparing to draw up the 2012 budget, which is reportedly starting at 2010 levels.