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Newton commissioner given paycheck advance
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Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson was issued a paycheck advance of $4,500 on Aug. 15. He paid everything back by Aug. 25.

On Wednesday, Henderson called it a "county advance loan" on his paycheck as commissioner, and said Andrea Gray with the county attorney's office had all the information. Gray was out of the office and did not return phone calls Wednesday.

Commissioner Levie Maddox isn't happy with it.

"The last board addressed this issue and I believe discontinued the practice; I have asked for clarity from the professionals staff on what specifically happened and how to better checks & balance measures moving forward," Maddox wrote in an email Tuesday. "In addition, I do believe that the county should have a policy that allows structured cash advances to employees under a documented hardship. Any and all types of loan scenarios are unacceptable."

Commissioner John Douglas said "there's something to it," but wouldn't elaborate. He referred all questions to Commission Chairman Keith Ellis, who did not return phone calls Wednesday.

Commissioner Nancy Schulz said in an email that she was informed Aug. 15 by a voter that Henderson received the cash advance, and she issued a "call to action" to the commissioners Aug. 19. In that call to action, she wrote that the she hoped the money had been returned to the county general fund (it was by Aug. 25, she said).

Also, she wrote that "it is imperative that the (BOC) take corrective action this evening ... to prevent any further incidences of compromising the trust of our constituents who have entrusted us with the fiduciary responsibility of using their tax dollars wisely and putting at risk attracting jobs and industry by showing favoritism to elected officials."

Maddox said: "Elected officials should serve the public - period. I need to get the facts in front of me, but this does not seem to pass the smell test."

Commissioners are paid $15,000, with a 5 percent increase allotted after completing training and each additional re-election. Commissioners are not considered county employees.

They "should be held to a higher ethical standard," Maddox said. "I'd also add that Commissioner Henderson is a good man, trying (with the loan) to put his kids through school and college. We can all relate to this. It is not his burden that mistakes were made in his request for a cash advance."

"It was paid back last week," Henderson said.