County man­age­ment tak­ing lib­er­ties

The Covington News - - Opinion - WIL­LIAM PERUG­INO COLUM­NIST Wil­liam Perug­ino is ac­tive in lo­cal and re­gional pol­i­tics and can be reached at 3pe­rug­i­nos@bel­

The daily op­er­a­tions and man­age­ment of our county are con­trolled by county reg­u­la­tions, pro­ce­dures and codes as well as state laws and reg­u­la­tions. These rules and reg­u­la­tions are nec­es­sary to the re­spon­si­ble, fair and con­trolled man­age­ment of our county. Of course, with­out the en­force­ment of these pro­vi­sions there is an­ar­chy and cor­rup­tion. The duly elected of­fi­cers who man­age the county in var­i­ous po­si­tions all take an oath of of­fice, sworn to God, to up­hold those gov­ern­ing reg­u­la­tions, codes and laws.

The cit­i­zens of the county have en­trusted the re­spon­si­bil­ity and good stew­ard­ship of our tax money and the in­tel­li­gent gov­ern­ing of all as­pects of is­sues re­lated to the county in our lives. This func­tion is a prime in­ter­est to all the cit­i­zens of New­ton County.

From time to time some pub­lic of­fice hold­ers take it upon them­selves to op­er­ate out­side the pre­vail­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions for their own pur­poses and ex­pe­di­ency. When this be­comes a re­peated act or is done for per­sonal gain, mone­tary or pro­fes­sional, then we must ex­am­ine the trust en­dowed upon that per­son.

The chair­man of the board of com­mis­sion­ers Kathy Mor­gan, once again has worked out­side the es­tab­lished pro­ce­dures set for the op­er­a­tion of county busi­ness and vi­o­lated rules and pro­ce­dures for board ac­tions.

The chair­man es­tab­lished a new po­si­tion in the depart­ment of pub­lic works with an at­tached salary and job de­scrip­tion with­out the re­quired ap­proval of the board of com­mis­sion­ers or a bud­geted line item. The chair­man pro­ceeded to ad­ver­tise the po­si­tion on the In­ter­net to be filled. The board had no knowl­edge of these ac­tions tak­ing place.

On July 19, the board of com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved the bud­get for fis­cal year 2013; July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013; Bud­get Res­o­lu­tion R061912.

The Bud­get Res­o­lu­tion states;

“...Pro­hibit­ing ex­pen­di­tures to ex­ceed ac­tual bud­geted ap­pro­pri­a­tions for said ex­pen­di­tures, cer­tain rec­om­mended main­te­nance and op­er­a­tion costs, trans­porta­tion and road im­prove­ments, changes in the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Per lev­els for County De­part­ments, which will be­come the adopted num­ber of po­si­tions for the du­ra­tion of

There was an open po­si­tion of as­sis­tant roads depart­ment di­rec­tor with a salary of $45,280. The po­si­tion did not re­quire a col­lege de­gree or pro­fes­sional li­cense. The job de­scrip­tion ba­si­cally cov­ered the daily su­per­vi­sion of road crews and work plans.

The new po­si­tion in ques­tion was deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic works with a start­ing salary of $49,316 to $75, 089. The po­si­tion does re­quire a col­lege de­gree with a Ge­or­gia pro­fes­sional engi­neer­ing li­cense highly pre­ferred. The po­si­tion de­scrip­tion closely fol­lows that of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the county en­gi­neer Tom Gar­rett, who re­ports to the county man­ager.

Board of com­mis­sion meet­ings were held on July 3 and July 9, at which time there was no men­tion of a new po­si­tion by the Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan.

The chair­man posted the po­si­tion on the In­ter­net on July 16.

The com­mis­sion­ers first be­came aware of the new ad­ver­tised po­si­tion on July 18, when cit­i­zens be­gan ask­ing ques­tions about the po­si­tion.

In the board of com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing held on Aug. 7, a mo­tion was made to amend the agenda to dis­cuss the new po­si­tion ad­ver­tised to be filled. The mo­tion was passed by a vote of 4 to 1.

A com­mis­sioner re­quested a rul­ing from the county at­tor­ney Tommy Craig, on the le­gal­ity of the cre­ation of this new po­si­tion. He ad­vised that this ac­tion was not in com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions and re­quire­ments of the bud­get res­o­lu­tion.

The new po­si­tion was closed and re­moved from the ad­ver­tise­ment on the In­ter­net.

The at­tempt to cre­ate this po­si­tion in the depart­ment of pub­lic works with­out ap­proval is clearly an­other ex­am­ple of this chair­man de­fy­ing the rules and reg­u­la­tions for her own pur­poses. The chair­man ob­vi­ously feels she can op­er­ate above the law. Would this ac­tion pos­si­bly be an at­tempt to re­move the author­ity of the chief en­gi­neer from the county man­ager and place un­der the chair­man?

In these times of stress from un­em­ploy­ment, bad econ­omy, ris­ing prices and a dev­as­tat­ing burden of fore­closed prop­erty in our county, we need lead­er­ship that re­spects our laws and reg­u­la­tions and has no in­ter­est in per­sonal agen­das or cav­a­lier be­hav­ior.

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