Work Session decides No Raises for BOC

wORK SESSION 2/27/06

The work session seemed to be more of a test of wills than anything else.  Comm. Bernard realized he no longer had “the consensus” of the Board. 


Brief Highlights from a 3+ hour Work Session 2/27/06

Comm. Bernard announced that Comm. Yarbrough was coming late. 


Agenda Comments by Public (about 10 people attended):

1. BOC was immediately questioned –This is a work session—how can you go into a formal executive session from informal meeting?  Possibly bogus and illegal—what is rationale? 


2. Chairman was asked why he thought he deserved any more power than the rest of the commissioners.  He was only one of 5 equals. 


3.  If Comm. Bernard needs more authority maybe he should step aside and let someone else to do job.  County Manager should do the job the BOC tells him what to do. 


Comments from Commissioners:
Greg Johnson—Work session is to only review financials and set next agenda.  Very upset about agenda when he saw it.  Elected to get results.  Agenda is off base in regards to what was agreed upon.  Thinks BOC needs to be more hands on.  


Comm. Johnson made announcement that he would review the Attendance and Personnel Policy.  He will be in courthouse 2 hours a day from now on.  He wants to see about getting the Road Plan started.  He will start on budget process for 2006à2007.  (Not one other Commissioner said they would also come to the courthouse and do the job they were elected to do.  Who is the REAL chairman? Who has the REAL ideas and goals?  Comm. Johnson!!)


Comm. Bernard has backed off Salary and Expense Reimbursement.  Realized there was “No consensus” for going forward on salary to General Assembly.  Said there was a consensus in Dec & Jan that has now changed.  (that ONE telephone call he got must have been a doozie to change his mind like this!)


Comm. Hill said BOC still needed to do something about expense report a.s.a.p.  We are losing money and  using own personal $$.  After 10+ years Comm. Hill is worried about this now??


Comm. Bernard announces, “ I’m not for the Chairman having more authority—this was not my idea.” 


County Manager Authority—Resolution—Ordinance—all power to County Manager

Greg Williams, County Manager, wrote up and ORDINANCE to give himself every imaginable power under the sun.  Including being appointed to a 3-YEAR TERM!!   (We thought the County Manager worked for the BOC, and at their pleasure.)





Agenda Preparation in Ordinance—

County Manager would prepare agenda with APPROVAL of Chairman.

Comm. Pennamon jumped on this-- No, every member should say what’s on agenda.  County Manager should bring up subjects needed to be acted upon, then BOC decides what’s on it.  Much back and forth with Pennamon and BernardCounty Manager—I don’t have agenda of my own. (Seems strange he felt he needed to interject this comment!)  Commissioners brought up fact that they shouldn’t have to ask “Jack” to have things put on the agenda.


 Attorney Nix—this BOC never can decide anything.  It’s time to make decisions!!


5:45PM Comm. Yarbrough walks in—only 45 minutes late.

This “who’s in charge of the agenda” discussion continued for another 10-15 minutes.

County Manager-- I serve this board—I do what you tell me to do!  (Come to the meetings and see who runs it, who decides what, and who tells whom what to do!)

Comm. Bernard—We had consensus at the retreat and we don’t have it anymore.  Let’s get back to establishing County Manager authority.  Referring to the Ordinance, Comm. Bernard said, “I didn’t write it and I didn’t review it, but it’s right on target.”  (Can you believe this quote?? How do you know what’s on target if you don’t review it???)

County Manager--this will be an ordinance—will have 1st reading next BOC meeting.  This is where the citizens need to voice their opinion about giving all power to a county manager!


Garbage Collection—Danny Norris case—has been settled.  Norris will pay outstanding  balance plus court cost.  Have received 50% of payment.  The county is supposed to get rest of money 1st week in March. 


Finance dept—new CFO gives basic reports with little detail--

The financials were broken down like the budget and compared to the budget.  All depts. are in line with 2 months, except for animal control. It’s at 72% of budget—no budgeted line item for animal control bldg.  Must be changed through budget amendment.   CFO also said court reporters and indigent way over and under budgeted (This is the first report this BOC has received since coming into office.)


Check signing procedure—

Greg Williams wants to sign checks badly.  He has brought this up at every meeting since January and it will be on the March 6 agenda too!

Comm. Bernard—suggests County Manager and CFO to sign checks.   Comm. Johnson—BOC should sign checks.   Comm. Hill—BOC should sign checks.  Comm. Bernard—let’s just have staff sign checks and at least one BOC sign.  My feeling is that only one needs to sign.  That will give us enough control.  Comm. Pennamon—BOC should have sole responsibility.  County Manager—I will need to go back and adjust ordinance for County Manager because it says County Manager will sign checks.  Comm. Bernard—what about just one Commissioner to sign?  Comm. Hill—any 2 commissioners should be able to sign checks.  Comm. Yarbrough—should be with County Manager and CFO.  County Manager—I will draft a  resolution that any 2 can sign. 

Comm. Bernard—County Manager has trouble finding all of us.  Just need to make sure checks are signed.  (Comm. Bernard usually isn’t that hard to find, he just doesn’t like coming to the Courthouse.  There has been several occasions when he has directed the county employees to come to his house so he could sign checks.  Comm. Yarbrough rarely darkens the Courthouse door because he works out of town.  They are willing to give away their authority for their own convenience.  They knew what the job entailed when they ran.  They seem to like the title, but not the work.) AT THIS TIME CHECK SIGNING AUTHORITY WILL STAY WITH THE BOC! 


Animal Control Pickup Truck—

County Manager and Ken Baldwin want new truck. BOC County Manager to swap trucks Code Enforcement doesn’t need big F250 and can use the Ranger that was bought a couple of years ago.  Animal Control can use the F250.  No need to buy new truck.  Comm. Johnson, Comm. Yarbrough, and Comm. Pennamon all tell County Manager to swap vehicles.  County Manager argues with BOC and tells them Ken Baldwin certified to me that he needed 4WD and so did Code Enforcement.  Comm. Yarbrough—this is not the best use of our equipment.  Comm. Pennamon—You and Mr. Anderson don’t know the history of all this.  Code Enforcement had a big truck and sent it to Public Works because they said they didn’t need it.  Now they want a new truck.  BOC told County Manager to go back and swap trucks several times.  County Manager asks, so you don’t want me to buy the truck?  (Remember the County Manager says he does what the BOC tells him to do, but then questions and repeats until he gets what HE wants.  We think he finally got the message here—swap trucks!)


Discussion at end –Work Session Format and Schedule—


It was agreed by BOC that there would only be agenda comments.


Note: **The County Manager has told TWG from beginning how everything is open.  But he doesn’t want public feed back or for the public to be aware of anything.  Greg Williams, County Manager, and Comm. Bernard have done a lot to make it very hard for the people to know what is going on.  Comm. Bernard ran on “transparency and open government.”  He still talks that talk, but the vote is always different.  Comm. Yarbrough agrees with what Comm. Bernard brings up.  Together they want no comments and no input.  (Remember they didn’t get any calls about the salary increases!) 


Citizens, you are losing your voice very rapidly.  You must start calling your commissioners, but most of all you must start attending these meetings.  If citizens and the TWG hadn’t been attending, there would have already been salary increases, no check signing oversight by the BOC, and a much more powerful BOC Chairman.  We can make a difference, but we need your help and support!  Open Government is important to all of us!



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