As a citizen of Walker County, Georgia, I urge current Commissioner Whitfield to formally request an audit of county records-financial, including personnel and their expense reports. It's clear that the transition has not been “above board”, and it's these actions that speak to a louder issue with the past leadership and the example that we are seeing in today’s news is most likely a continuation of improper actions in the past.
It's easy to say “Let’s move on and forget the past”, but unfortunately the history of Walker County government making poor decisions on the behalf of its citizens, its tentacles growing beyond the “normal” scope of government and its services, and a well know small group of individuals that served as decision makers for the majority of all county decisions, make the situation one that we cannot easily forget, nor should we.
If I were in Commissioner Whitfield’s shoes I would make sure I was starting on the best field possible and to know what skeletons are waiting to sprout – an independent audit is the best tool. An independent audit would cost money, as a citizen I would fully support that expense. It's only fair that we citizens know what has been occurring in our county, with our tax dollars, and where the county stands today. If less than legitimate items are found, they should be addressed immediately, including reimbursement and legal action where appropriate. The audit needs to extend through all county entities, including the Water Authority, Hospital Board, etc. We need not just transparency, but accountability.
I would also request that the citizens of Walker Co. be provided a listing of entities the county governs, their leadership and board appointments, salaries, and if there is a financial leg to any board appointments. I am not sure how many folks know that several of the board appointments come with an annual salary (sometimes upwards of $20k a person). Board members do not need to be paid salaries. Most often for government boards, members are compensated for travel and food, where the board appointment is a volunteer basis, these are not full time jobs thus requiring a salary. We are using taxpayer money to pay these salaries, I don’t agree that this is a proper use of taxpayer money.
An independent audit can put all this information on the table to be sorted in the best interest of our county, not individuals.
Leslie A. Ward