What happened in 2005 -- Highlights as we
What happened in 2005--highlights as we saw them.
The good, the
bad, and the **ugly—alot of the ugly can be read at the Monticello
“Kathy’s Korner.” (We do feel that Kathy brought out many of the
frustrations people have.) You should read the article first and
then read the following highlights that we’ve kept track of. We
will point out, nothing in the News article brought up anything
about the City and its problems or even mentioned 2 of the
Commissioners, both of whom have sat on the board for at least 3
terms. Their “expertise” should be guiding the new commission, but
instead they play the part of obstructionist with their 2-3 voting.
Board which had been developer oriented over past 4 years
Set up Fiscal
finances questioned, their monthly check held, and rumors are
spread the hospital will close. People turn out “en masse” to
protest and are ready to string up new commissioners.
Comm Johnson, and Ken McMichael meet w/ BCWSA regarding buying
from Butts with positive feedback. Water line under Hwy 16 bridge
Whistleblower2 expose on City of Monticello and missing Grant money
Park. Use of grant money for Walter Smith's rental houses was also
exposed. Monticello News completely ignores story. (see
article under City issues at taxdogs.com)
more grant money for Funderburg Park--$225,000 with RDC as
and Comm. Yarbrough both turn in questionable expense reports.
County Attorney-John Nix (T.W.G. opinion—this is
long overdue. Mr. Roberts served 30 years or more and there was too
much that was
questionable during the last 4 years—Bear Creek Reservoir contract
which he gave his
blessing to; ADS contract with all the problems; Perimeter Road
problems which he
never corrected since last July when the public continued to
question his giving County
property back to people free of charge; allowing conflicts of
interest especially in voting
past Commissioners; allowing violations of Open Meetings and Open
Attorney General to send representative to Jasper County, etc.,
statements and check register available to public in BOC office
new Certified Public Accountant firm to do county audit
Start work on
Heli-pad for hospital
facility being worked on--after 4 years of promises by last BOC
from DOT for help on paving County Line Rd.
Peggy Billerman of P&Z/Curbside, who takes over $14,000 of county
money with her for City curbside residents.
County Manager—Bernie Fontaine—many people question the reason and
if it’s a good thing since he had already served and been let go by
a previous BOC
Resolution without public input—Yarbrough accused of conflict of
interest and asked not to vote since his wife worked for Ed
works on 25 year agreement with City with no dissolution clause
on landfill and new C&D trench-talked about for 2 years by last BOC
from DOT for help on paving Apt to Miss Rd.
contract is now split with City and County with a big mess. One of
County Attorney Roberts never had the City sign the Contract with
contract was poorly written (by Attorney Roberts) with no penalties
for poor or no service. Comm Pennamon says he knew about this
"deal" between Manager Fontaine,
Billerman, and City since Feb. Yet did nothing and therefore helps
thousands of $$ of profits from curbside. (Who is he looking out
signs agreement with City of Monticello for City to do billing,
service work, etc. Changes are made as to term of agreement and
ways to dissolve it.
application to USDA to pay for Animal Shelter--saving taxpayers $$
shows $700,000+ deficit plus $900,000 taken from Water & Sewer Bond
fund that must be
paid back. Many other deficiencies and problems, yet Monticello
News fails to report it all. Hospital shows $800,000 profit for
year ended 9/30/04. (T W G obtained a copy of the audit as well as
the salaries paid to the 5 highest paid employees at JMH (See
letter at taxdogs.com under hospital issues)
Magistrate Judge, rules that Danny Norris, City Police Chief doesn’t
his garbage bill because the Judge is not sure if the contract is
(Judge Jackson wasn’t in his office long enough to research a recent
ruling that said it was.)
$600,000 from GEFA for landfill closure
continues to stall on signing contract with ADS leaving county
turns in resignation.
Fontaine resigned unexpectedly
Leonard Myers—interim County Manager at $50/ hour plus daily travel
Betty Moon was
asked to return to BOC office to work
subdivision ordinance with tougher standards for developers.
hearings on 2005 and moved $$ around to prevent overspending
landfill closure. **Comm Hill and Comm Pennamon both vote against
landfill closure even though it is REQUIRED by the State and will
cost County $100/day in fines.
**Comm Hill and
Comm Pennamon vote against Equipment Repair for County.
(Comm Hill and
Comm Pennamon vote as obstructionist on many issues--not for good
of county but
to have 3-2 vote they can use in their "talking points")
agreement with City to jointly apply for $500,000 "emergency" water
Many secret meetings have been held with City in violation of open
signs Signature Community Grant application for the City without
approval or knowledge of rest of BOC.
from DOT to match SPLOST $ for roads at 75%
refuses to let Finance Comm in on any budget work sessions; entire
Finance Comm. resigns. Letter indicates nothing they’ve suggested
has been implemented.
and kept millage same--only tax increase would come from growth.
report showing almost $900,000 of overspending during last BOC term
as well as lack of any financial controls and questionable abilities
of financial staff
for roads, hospital, economic development and recreation
last SPLOST for courthouse may be $500,000 short
Domain resolution asking State Legislature to pass legislation
disallowing government take over of private land for
**City has more
grant problems. $65,000 grant from DNR received years ago for
Funderburg Park is questioned. Letter states the DNR doesn't think
project will ever happen.
County Manager—Greg Williams at $80,000
continues to hire people and give raises in BOC office even though
they talk of
shortages (CFO was advertised for earlier, making another position)
waits 3 days before Utility digest is due to question legality of
this is after letting his appointee take the class and take the test
twice at taxpayer
expense. This is also a “first” because many of his appointees have
the past. Problem: Attorney Roberts failed to file paperwork in
(see taxdogs.com article)
themselves a raise and unlisted expense reimbursements, subject to
the approval of the Legislature. They also are considering
changing the County Charter—all
knowledge or approval.
landfill capping. Firm got done in record time and if there
are/were any penalties,
would be minimal.
**JCWSA has 200
customers after running 34+ miles of line and spending $4 million
continue to question their ability to pay back their debt with so
2006 is just
starting. The Taxpayer's Watchdog Group intends to push again for
clearer agendas and executive session “decisions” being put in the
minutes. There are too many things that the public is kept unaware
of because of closed sessions and no mention later of what goes on.
This was the downfall of the last BOC –Bear Creek Reservoir and all
the secret meetings, the suspected deals with developers, two BOC
members that were partners in land dealings but yet this was denied
in order to try to have a zoning passed for one of the
There are 5
members on the board. They are trustees of our tax money and have
the responsibility to oversee how it is spent.
The Chairman is
not the sole commissioner; it is the Chairman’s role to carry out
the wishes of the board. The BOC votes to authorize the Chairman to
carry out those wishes. When any member lets things happen
without saying anything or does things “on his own”, he should be
reprimanded by the rest of the Board. The ethics policy should
be reworked with some penalties attached to it. The new expense
reimbursement should be narrow in scope so that it can not be abused
with anything being allowed as long as it’s for “carrying out their
commissioner duties.” That could be anything, including meals with
anyone and anybody. The public should be informed, and there should
be public hearings before our County Charter is changed.
continue to watch and see what happens and report it. However, the
citizens (you!) need to also speak up. Send us emails , comments,
suggestions, things you see and hear. Most of all continue to
contact your commissioners with problems but also with some praise
when they do good things. Everything these “new guys” have done has
not been bad! The voters were tired of the developer oriented
Planning and Zoning and BOC over the past 4 years. These “new guys”
changed that with an immediate moratorium on more subdivisions and a
reworking of the development ordinances as well as a new P&Z Board.
In 2006 there should be negotiations about the Service Delivery
areas and who can do what. The Service Delivery will determine
water areas for the City, ASWA, JCWSA, as well as how other
services are handled in the County.
There’s much to
do, and we want the entire board to work together. We want the
entire board to have input on what’s on the agenda. We want the
entire board to approve complete minutes that are the
official record of Jasper County actions. We want the people
kept in “the loop.” We want the County to hire qualified
people and let go of the ones that are not qualified or are not
doing their jobs. We want the commissioners to be responsible for
signing checks and overseeing the finances. We want the
commissioners to show up for all meetings and fulfill their duties;
if they don’t, we want their pay docked. We want the Commissioners
to quit interfering with the Board of Assessors, but we also want
the Board of Assessors to take care of the problems. We just
want people to serve that care about what is best for Jasper County
and our quality of life.
There is no
doubt that it’s tough hearing complaints day in and day out. The
Taxpayer's Watchdog Group gets much of the same—we’re negative,
we’re for one person and against someone else, this, that, and the
other. There is always 2 schools of thought on every situation—for
Let us state
the TWG mission statement again:
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper
County, Georgia informed as to where and how their tax dollars are
** 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.
This is what the
Taxpayer's Watchdog Group has always stood for. Our goal is to keep
the public informed. We question why certain things, such as City
grant problems and Hospital profits, are never published in the
paper. We think it is inappropriate when quotes are taking out of
context and published that way. We think it is unfair when only
part of the story is told. When that happens, we try to tell “the
rest of the story.” We have had several people tell us that their
editorials aren’t printed in the paper—we will be happy to send them
out with our Taxpayer's Watchdog Group emails --if they are
appropriate. In 2006 we will continue to make suggestions and
comments. Our goal is to have an informed public.
next elections are only 2 ½ years away. Have you thought about
running? What would your ideas be to improve Jasper County? Let us
hear from you during 2006.
Yesterday is not
ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. -- Lyndon
Keep this list
for future reference: