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BOC pursues county manager position over chair's objections

A majority of county commissioners reached a consensus at a work session Monday night to have the county attorney draw up a job description for a county manager position, but not before Chairman Kathy Morgan voiced strong opposition.

Commissioners Mort Ewing, J.C. Henderson and Tim Fleming informally agreed - votes are not permitted in work sessions - to create a job description for the administrative officer that specifies that employee report only to the Board of Commissioners. Presently, the job description states that position reports to the board and the chair.

According to County Attorney Tommy Craig, the change in reporting structure from the chair to the board requires by Georgia law a change in title to county manager.

He disagreed with Morgan on whether that constituted a change in the form of government. Craig said the Supreme Court has ruled on at least three separate occasions that it does not. Morgan said it does according to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Craig responded if that's the case "they are ill informed."

"I also have that opinion from two attorneys," Morgan said.

"And they are ill informed also," Craig responded.

"So your opinion is the right opinion?" Morgan asked.

"I'm right more than I'm wrong," he said.

Morgan said changing to a county manager dilutes the authority of chairman bestowed by the county charter and changes the job description voters elected her to fulfill. The charter states the chairman is in charge of day to day operations of the county, with the administrative officer assisting with various operations and reporting to the chair and the board. Morgan said she would only support a change to a county manager form of government if the voters make that choice. She said a county manager would decrease accountability to voters by making a non-elected official responsible for the day to day operations and encouraging alliances, with that official focused on keeping at least three board members happy in order to stay employed.

"I have a real issue about balancing power, checks and balances…I also am a proponent of voters' right to choose," she said. Morgan said if the board chooses to pursue the matter, a committee should be formed to educate citizens, consultants should be hired to advise the board and the matter should be brought before the voters.

But Ewing said he wants reporting limited to the board, stating that during the last three years - Morgan's term - the administrative officer position has "not been allowed to function." He said in the prior eight years of his term, a balanced budget and SPLOST proposals were presented without delay or discord. He said changing the job description without changing the reporting structure would not solve the problem. Henderson added he asked for information during the budget process that was never provided. Morgan said she has never restricted the administrative officer from providing information to commissioners.

Morgan claimed Administrative Officer John Middleton resigned in July - his last day is December 15 - due to the board's failure to heed his advice and raise the millage rate during the budget process.

"We were given duties to do our job and I'm doing the job as elected by the voters of Newton County and I'm trying to understand why the board does not want us to function as the charter indicated and as elected by the voters of Newton County, the same voters who elected you. I have not restricted Mr. Middleton from doing his job," she said. "He did his job and this board did not accept the budget prepared by our professional manager."

Keep checking newtoncitizen.com for more updates.

Comments

MsLoy 2 years, 10 months ago

Morgan only wants to keep her 85K job and monster sized SUV in hopes she will be re-elected one year from Tuesday. Ain't happening. Many counties use a manager and should. You fired many of us. Tables are turned baby.

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dgarrett 2 years, 10 months ago

We have 3 commissioners that just voted to give the power to someone they pick and they control. For those of you that didn't want a "good 'ole boy" system, you ain't seen nothing yet. Hold on Newton County...it's about to be a wild ride. I hope we survive.

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Chris 2 years, 10 months ago

This is an extraordinarily arrogant plan and the public should not stand for it. It is embarrassing that they will likely get away with it without a public vote. Boss Hogg was a caricature of the worst of county government manipulation and corruption, but some seem to regard him as a role model.

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mgh1966 2 years, 10 months ago

What a Loser. We got to to betterthan the 2 family monarch system we have now. 2 families have Ruled this County since 1980. Please give us a break they have turn the westren part of the county into a waste land of empty houses with over taxation and no services. WE can't even get potholes filled.

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Frustrated 2 years, 10 months ago

encouraging alliances? keeping three board members happy? Isnt that what we have now? Look at who is recommending this..Ewing, Henderson and Fleming; the three musketeers.

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56vick 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow what a professional group of government officials we have .Only in Newton County could the entire board of commissioners be so self serving .Is it any wonder we get so many movies being filmed here. after all we are leaving in Dukes of Hazard country! Keep up the good work we are rapidly approaching Clayton Co status.

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dennistay53 2 years, 10 months ago

This is a sure sign that our Newton County Government is failing us. Why do we need a government with no positive direction, a government where our elected officials are more concerned with their egos than they are about the ones that elected them. The county attorney and his pay is a big part of the problem. Why would you be using him to write a job description for a county manager? Do you really think he will volunteer to eliminate his highly paid position? Voters it is time to ask the entire board to resign for failure to perform their jobs. They are acting like a bunch of unruly children and Newton County will become more and more of a laughing stock in this area due to their behavior. Its time to get a government that will work together to face the serious problems that are facing this county. A recall of all the board of commissioners should begin.

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fedupwithitall 2 years, 10 months ago

Really don't get why so many people think this is a good thing. We have a BOC so that one person can't make decisions, good or bad, that will affect this county for a long time. Whatever animosity you hold against Kathy Morgan that would lead you to think it's OK for Mort (useless) Ewing, Tim (do nothing) Fleming, and J.C. (can't even comprehend why he is on the board) Henderson to run the county is way beyond me. The two amigos and the dimwit they lead around by the nose will destroy this county and then you will wonder why you believed anything they said...all the while the most overpaid county attorney in the nation really controls those three...be careful what you ask for, you just may get it. My prayers are the good people of Newton County will wake up before it's too late and take back control from the three that are driving this county into the ground one vote at a time...

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