COVINGTON -- Commissioner Mort Ewing accused Chairman Kathy Morgan Tuesday night of violating the Board of Commissioners' Code of Ethics, purchasing policy and state law related to spending on a road project.
Ewing said that the board authorized Morgan in April 2011 to "move forward" with a repair project for Cook Road. That authorization did not include permission to spend any county funds on the project, Ewing said.
However, the county check register indicates that on Aug. 8, a check was made payable to Pittman Construction for $187,038.19 related to work on Cook Road, Ewing said. Also, on Aug. 19, a check was issued to Pittman for $35,825.50 with $32,010 of that related to Cook Road, for total expenditures of $198,771.21 "spent without a bid and without this board's approval," Ewing said.
Ewing said this is a violation of the county's purchasing policy, which requires that any expenditures over $20,000 be approved by the board, as well as state law, which requires that all county transportation projects over $20,000 be bid.
"Last but not least, I think the code of ethics for the Newton County Board of Commissioners has been violated," Ewing said.
Asked by Commissioner J.C. Henderson to respond, Morgan said, "This is the first I've heard of it. I took no action last year without following the policies of the Board of Commissioners, and without researching it myself I can't respond to your questions." Morgan said she would have a response for the board at its April 3 meeting.
Ewing said he raised the issue because the board was asked Tuesday to authorize the chairman to move forward with three road projects: Crowell Road culvert repair; improvements to Crowell Road and Highway 81; and the paving of Gaithers Road. He made a motion to grant authorization under the conditions that the chairman work with the county engineer and other staff to secure bids; all bids are reviewed by the county attorney and submitted to the board for consideration; and no county funds are expended without approval by the board. His motion was unanimously approved.