An issue that has presented problems for the Oconee County Board of Commissioners–communication between the chairman and the other four commission members–surfaced again last week.
At the Feb. 28 agenda-setting meeting, Commissioner Chuck Horton and Commissioner Jim Luke complained that they had not been given sufficient advance notice of plans by the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority to purchase additional land for the undeveloped Gateway Business Park on SR 316.
“I would hope with something like that we’d get better information sooner,” Horton said.
“It is very difficult to make good decisions when you don’t have all of the information, or you’re not given any time with that information,” Luke said.
The two addressed their complaint to Chairman Melvin Davis, who also is vice chair of the IDA and sends BOC members email messages to advise them on issues before the county.
Davis acknowledged that he had not informed the other Board members of the pending purchase until they were asked to vote on it.
“This is a request of the Development Authority,” he said.
The BOC held a special, called meeting on Feb. 23 to approve the sale of bonds to finance the Caterpillar project near Bogart.
It then went into executive session to discuss purchase of 29 additional acres for the business park. The County agreed to cover the $1.2 million purchased price if the IDA does not find other ways to come up with the money.
Horton said that decision to go into executive session was a surprise to him, and he wished he had been given advance notice of it.
Luke missed the Feb. 23 meeting because of a death in the family.
Complaints by the four commissioners about communication, or the lack of communication, from Chairman Davis have been frequent over the years.
In August of 2009, the four commissioners, over the objection of Davis, changed the organizational chart of the county to give commissioners more access to information from Administrative Officer Alan Theriault and department heads.
The complaints by Horton and Luke last week were one of the few public signs that differences still exist over access to information.
Horton has announced that he plans to seek the chairmanship of the Commission in elections that will be held this summer. Davis has not announced if he plans to seek reelection.
Luke has announced he plans to seek reelection as commissioner.
The Oconee Enterprise, which has been a staunch supporter of Davis and critic of Horton, focused on the exchange between Horton and Davis in its coverage of the Feb. 28 BOC session, calling it a “fray.”
The paper also predicted, in its editorial, that Davis will be reelected chairman.