August 26, 2006
Blunder By The County Manager
$80,000 a year, with questions increasing as to exactly
what he does, the County Manager
has once again failed to do the simplest of tasks—posting
the meeting notice on the court house door.
This isn’t something that somebody “does”; it is a requirement
of the LAW.
With the most
important meeting of the year being held, someone “forgets”
to post the notice? What is the excuse to the Commissioners
this time? That the office is understaffed? That no one
was available (out of the 6 people in the office) to post
the notice? Just what is the
reason for the failure to post the meeting notice on the
The County Manager
has told the BOC “what the law says” at several meetings.
He told them at the beginning of the year that they didn’t
have to take minutes or even tape work sessions. He told
the citizens, after he was questioned several times about
it, that it was the LAW. However, the Attorney General (with
then County Attorney Nix concurring) interpreted the law
differently, and minutes are required.
August 24 the court house door was checked at 12:55 PM—almost
4 hours after the time the notice was required to be posted.
At 2:25 PM, both doors and the bulletin board at the courthouse
were checked—there was still no notice. At 4:30 PM two commissioners
were advised that there was no notice. Maybe it was a mistake
to inform them, but these conversations revealed that the
County Manager had been advised around 2:30 PM of his error
and was consulting with legal counsel.
Friday morning at 9:00 AM, there had been “a statement”
concocted and an “EMERGENCY MEETING” was held for the final
public hearing (required by law) and the “millage rate setting
hearing.” The County Manager handed
out the statement which read that there was not a posting
of the meeting as required by law, but it was only “several
hours late.” Following is the reasoning (the written statement
presented at the hearing) for the Emergency Meeting:
(sic) has advised that special circumstances are applicable
for the called meeting due to the critical nature of a timely
levy of property taxes. Should the millage rate not be set
at the prescribed time, there would be an undue burden placed
upon the county that would cause the delay of the submission
of the tax digest and a delay in creating and mailing the
2006 tax bills. Given that the 5 year history, which gives
notice of the meeting, has been previously run in the local
paper, as well as specific notice of today’s meeting being
provided to the local paper, this board recognizes that
special circumstances exist and this meeting will proceed
How many times in the past 5 years (and longer) has the
BOC set the millage rate later than August 25th?? We’re
betting at least 4 out of the 5. So how can this be considered
an emergency? It’s just a way to get out of a
huge problem created by a lack of attention and negligence.
A citizen went
on record stating he felt the meeting was illegal and anything
voted on would be null and void. No one spoke at the hearing
due to this protest and the meeting lasted approximately
4 minutes. (The previous public hearing lasted approximately
It’s not that
any citizen that attended the meetings can even imagine
the BOC would change the amount of the millage. What bothers
us is the fact that this BOC can’t seem to uphold the laws
or have the County Manager do so. This
is the second time the meeting notice hasn’t been posted
this year. The first time the meeting had
to be called off.
Maybe the County
Manager needs to have some Administrative Leave and use
that time to read the Open Meetings and Open Records laws
along with several of the cases that have been brought to
the courts concerning these laws. The courts most always
rule on the side of Open Government. It is also troubling
that the County Manager and BOC use such lame excuses for
holding Emergency Meetings. The
BOC’s tactic seems to be-- don’t do what the law contemplates
and commands, but figure out how to barely meet the minimum
required by law and then how to get around that if it is
and notices can be put on the courthouse door up to TWO
WEEKS before the meeting (the LAW says so). At the last
BOC meeting the Commissioners and the County Manager were
questioned as to why the agendas were not posted when they
were sent to the Monticello News on Monday afternoon? That
would give people time to see the agenda from Tuesday morning
until the meeting the next Monday. The
law says the agenda should be posted so people have sufficient
time to see what items will be discussed and be able to
make arrangements to attend the meetings.
The County Manager
has been posting the agendas on Friday afternoons for a
Monday morning meeting. How many people come to the courthouse
on Saturday and Sunday to see the agenda? It’s just another
way to hinder openness in government.
and voters who had such high hopes for a new beginning and
more honest, open government are now totally frustrated
and feeling betrayed. We are paying much
higher salaries and have more staff then ever before; we
expect higher quality performance than we’ve been getting.
Jasper County can and should do better. Citizens must demand
it to make it a reality.
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and
laws being discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.