published Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Catoosa Commissioners to review duties of citizen boards


by Beverly Carroll

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Boards that oversee Catoosa County government departments provide a valuable service, but county commissioners want to review all the boards that are paid to ensure they still needed.

County Commission Chairman Keith Greene has said the commission’s recent decision to ask the General Assembly to do away with the Public Works/Solid Waste Management Authority is part of that effort.

He wants to examine the roles of the six citizen panels the county pays to set and administer policy.

“That’s part of my mission to eliminate waste and reduce government,” Mr. Greene said.

The county has 14 boards, most of which are established by state legislative action, county finance director Carl Henson said. Six of the boards have members who are compensated for their time.

Total figures were not available Friday, but based on the number of paid members and the number of meetings held, the county is paying more than $50,000 a year to citizen boards. Legal fees are part of costs for some boards, and those fees are figured separately.

Mr. Greene said cutting the public works authority will save the county about $15,000 a year.

Commissioner Bobby Winters, on the public works authority board for six years, said that figure was inflated. He noted he is not paid for his service on the board.

County Manager Mike Helton said the county does not pay Mr. Winters $100 per meeting because they were not sure if county commissioners could receive additional compensation for serving on other boards. The county budgets $60,500 a year for county commissioners, who meet twice a month and sometimes in special called meetings. Chairman and vice chairman are paid more.

Mr. Greene said he does not want to get rid of useful boards. He recommended the public works authority board be eliminated because the county no longer owns any sewers and does not have a functioning landfill.

The planning and zoning commission, which normally meets twice a month, has cut back on meetings, he said.

“Cutting the public works authority was obvious,” he said. “I have no desire to get rid of planning and zoning. If they have an agenda, they meet. If they don’t, don’t meet.”

Many boards have duties that go beyond meetings, officials said. The elections and registration board works during elections, helps manage voting machines, oversees precincts and helps with vote tallies, election commissioner Donna Bomar said.

“That board works,” Mrs. Bomar said. “It’s the hardest working board in the county.”

Mr. Winters said the public works authority board cost the county less than $10,000 last year. He said the board members go out and inspect job sites and watch out for the county.

“It’s a pretty good board,” Mr. Winters said recently. “People don’t realize all the good it has done and all the benefits it’s brought to the county for no cost. I put a lot of work in it and got a lot done on my own.”

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