December 5, 2007
WANTS MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT FOR ALL “OFFICIAL
"Public Hearing" on the County
was held at the December BOC meeting.
Copies of the proposed Charter had to be made
and passed out during the meeting.
As often happens, the public didn't have the
copies in time to read ahead of time--and it is likely
the Commissioners didn't either unless they received
it via email over the weekend and took time to read
Charter was not available at any time for public inspection
before the discussion started.
comments on the Charter centered on
Bernard was adamant that Commissioners be paid the same
way as county employees. He
was told by a citizen that a Commissioner is elected,
while an employee is hired by the County, and to equate
an elected office with the county employees was comparing
apples and oranges.
Several people attending pointed out that Commissioners
should only be reimbursed for OUT OF COUNTY
to prevent abuse.
As was stated in the meeting it is possible for
ANY travel by a commissioner to be "official business."
All they have to say is that they talked to someone
about their road, garbage, taxes, or whatever. Comm.
Johnson seemed to think that the "Commissioners
could supervise themselves" so there would be no
Comm. Pennamon stood firm and said it should be ONLY
for out of County travel and he wanted it stated as
such in the Charter. Comm.
Bernard would not budge from his position--he wanted
it to be in the personnel policy (that often isn't
followed); therefore, the vote was NOT unanimous
but 4-1. Comm. Hill stated
during the discussion that he thought they should not
be reimbursed for in-county mileage; yet voted for it
anyway. (This seemed to
be part of the "back room deal"--the Bernard,
Hill, Yarbrough coalition for voting.)
should remember one of Comm. Bernard's first acts as
Commissioner. He and Comm.
Yarbrough both turned in mileage reimbursements for
attending their own swearing in ceremonies, with
more requests for reimbursements to follow before both
TWG and the Monticello News reported it.
Comm. Bernard then had his fax/telephone line
reimbursed for months with the excuse that it was for
"only county business."
Sources indicate that Comm. Bernard rarely frequents
the Courthouse - it seems to be too far for him to drive
to sign checks and pick up his meeting packet.
TWG is aware of
several instances when Comm. Bernard was Chairman that
he had county employees bring checks to his house for
him to sign while the employee waited.
How much extra could a
Commissioner add to his salary in mileage reimbursement?
Comm. Bernard lives approximately 25 miles round
trip to the Courthouse. Using
the new Federal mileage rate of 50c a mile, he would
get $12.50 a trip. TWG suspects
that Comm. Bernard will be able to find the time to
sign checks and even pick up his meeting packet if he
gets reimbursed--he might
even travel into other areas of his District if he can
claim mileage reimbursement. Even
Comm. Yarbrough might show up at the courthouse on days
other than meeting days.
didn't seem to be much opposition to the Salary increase,
doubling the current salaries for Commissioners.
One citizen did tell the Commissioners that most
people didn't get raises unless they earned it, and
in his opinion they certainly hadn't earned a 100% increase.
Comm. Pennamon stated, "We have just
instituted a 100% increase on our salary. If we can't
use that to come to town and to check on our district
something is wrong."
BOC voted 5-0 to submit the Charter to the State Legislature
for approval -- including the controversial "mileage
reimbursement." Comm. Hill said, "I think
that Cole is OK [with it]. His
only concern was the compensation--the salary."
said all he wanted was resolution voted on unanimously
to submit to Legislature. Citizens
understood the "unanimous" vote meant on all
parts of the Charter; not just the submittal.
shall soon see just what Rep. Cole and Senator Grant
think about this controversy. Since
the "public hearing" was not held at a time
the public could really attend nor were the documents
made available ahead of time, you can contact
Rep. Cole at email@example.com
or 404-651-7737 or 478-957-2544
and Senator Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 404-656-0082 or 478-452-1427.
Leave them a message with your comments.
** 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.