No action taken on commissioners' conflicts

Committee Chairman Bill Lockett said the contractors might have to return the money paid.

 

An Augusta Commission committee declined Monday to weigh in on how three commissioners were paid to perform work for the city, leaving the matter to a future meeting of the commission.

The administrative services chairman, Bill Lockett, said he had received "additional information" – that commissioners might be required under the city code to return money they were paid to do the work and that any companies involved might be barred from again doing business with the city.

Lockett cited former Com­missioner Calvin Holland's censure by the commission in 2007 after he told a subordinate of a department head to remove the hard drive from City Adminis­tra­tor Fred Russell's computer.

“A precedent has been established,” Lockett said.

A motion to refer the matter to the full commission failed, with Lockett and Bill Fennoy voting yes, Mary Davis voting no and Joe Jack­son abstaining because he is one of the commissioners at issue.

Davis, who took office in January, said she voted against a motion she had seconded after Lockett raised the other issues.

“My intention was we needed more information and more clarity,” she said. “I should have done a substitute motion.”

Commissioner Marion Wil­liams said he'll make sure the item appears on a future agenda, and Davis said she expects Mayor Deke Copen­ha­ver to call a special meeting to air the issue.

“We just want the full story and then to decide as a commission, 'What do we do?’ ” Davis said.

Three commissioners – Grady Smith, Wayne Guilfoyle and Jack­son – have acknowledged their businesses received payment for work performed under city contracts while they held elected office, an apparent violation of the city code, which forbids elected officials or employees from benefiting as contractor or subcontractor on city projects.
Smith, who owns a plumbing business with his brother, stood by the work his firm had done with the city over the past two years. He has asked for an exception to the conflict-of-interest policy to allow commissioners and employees to work as subcontractors.

“I'm sitting there with 40 guys looking at me about how they make their living,” Smith said of his business, Smith Bros. Mechanical. “These small jobs like this, they're going to call somebody they can depend on.”

Jackson performed a handful of locksmith jobs for city departments from 2008 to 2010, according to an open records request, and Guil­foyle's flooring company was paid as a subcontractor to do work on a new Augusta Regional Air­port terminal. Jackson said he had quit accepting payment for the work in 2010, and Guilfoyle said he made the subcontracting bid before taking office, but that it was carried over when the airport hired a new general contractor.

In other business Monday, the finance committee affirmed a recommendation by the Richmond County Board of Elections to award raises to elections Executive Di­rector Lynn Bailey and As­sis­tant Director Travis Doss. Bailey’s salary will rise from $76,500 to $88,000, and Doss’ will rise from $57,200 to $65,800.

Elections board member L.C. Myles said the raises are warranted because the employees ares near the bottom of their pay range and have been recruited for elections positions in other jurisdictions.

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The Back Story
CITY CONTRACTS

BACKGROUND: Three Augusta Commission members – Joe Jackson, Grady Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle – have acknowledged their businesses received payment for work performed under city contracts while they held elected office, an apparent violation of the city code.

DEVELOPMENTS:

• Smith has asked for an exception to the conflict of interest policy to allow commissioners and employees to work as subcontractors.

• Commissioner Bill Lockett said the companies involved might be required to return money they were paid to do the work and that any companies involved might be barred from doing business with the city.

• A motion to refer the matter to the full commission failed.

 

WHAT’S NEXT: Commissioner Marion Wil­liams said he’ll make sure the item appears on a future agenda, while Commissioner Mary Davis said she expects Mayor Deke Copen­ha­ver to call a special meeting.

TOPIC PAGE: Augusta-Richmond County Commission

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