A series of Open Records Requests filed by AllOnGeorgia revealed that Sole Commissioner Jason Winters withheld thousands of dollars in county money from other branches of Chattooga County government as well as many state-mandated offices for much of 2017.
AllOnGeorgia requested documents relating to the county debt in early December after concerns were voiced by citizens and Winters subsequently approved the upcoming Fiscal Year’s Budget with very little documentation, discussion, or public feedback.
County Attorney Chris Corbin initially said the county did not maintain a list of outstanding debt, but after additional Open Records Requests and a request to view documents in person, a file of outstanding invoices were released to AllOnGeorgia totalling almost $1 million in outstanding debt to county agencies and private vendors.
Chattooga County once again took out a Tax Anticipation Note totalling more than $2 million to cover the general operating expenses until property taxes were collected, but even still, a handful of county entities and state-mandated county offices were not funded for most of the year, according to documents.
As Commissioner, Winters is solely responsible for signing checks and allocating funds on time to varying county offices. Open Records documents revealed many offices and vendors sent multiple requests for funds and invoices throughout 2017 only to remain unpaid as 2017 was coming to a close.
The DFCS Office was one of the offices that did not receive funds for 3 quarters. As of December 27, Winters had not responded to County Director Kim Humphrey’s three requests for $24,830 totaling $74,490.
(If you’re reading on a mobile device and cannot scroll through the document, click here.)
The County Board of Health was also behind on their dispersion, requesting more than $156,000 in November because of unpaid invoices. The agency made multiple requests in March,
The NWGA Joint Development Authority didn’t receive a single payment in 2017.
The NWGA Regional Commission set letters to Winters about the need to be compensated to close out their year end books, back in July, but as of December 27, the invoice was still pending. (Click here if you cannot scroll the document on a mobile device)
Santek Waste Services was owed almost $139,000 and the unpaid invoice collected $2,715 in late penalties. (Click here for mobile device-friendly pdf)
The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office was owed more than $25,000 for inmate housing services going back to July.
County Clerk Martha Tucker says the invoices were to be paid by the end of the year, as was the Tax Allocation Note. At the time AllOnGeorgia visisted the county office, the 2016 audit had not yet been provided to Tucker and Winters, but the same Open Records file showed Chrysan Thomas billed the county $11,200 in October and it had yet to be paid.
Winters has not responded to any emails sent by AllOnGeorgia.
This article is part of a series of Open Records-related articles on the Chattooga County government under Commissioner Jason Winters. Varying other invoices were included in the Open Records Requests, but will be covered in forthcoming articles.