‘It hit us out of the dark’
The Economic Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman canceled its meeting scheduled for today, partly because of the county commission’s sudden decision Monday night to “defund” the authority.
“I really wish the commissioners would have told us what they were going to do,” said Economic Developer Rusty Warner. “This really hit us out of the dark.”
The “commissioners,” members of the Elbert County Board of Commissioners, voted 3-2 Monday night to stop funding the authority out of frustration over being forced to providing the sole support for the authority because the cities of Elberton and Bowman discontinued its funding of the authority.
According to County Commission Chairman Lee Vaughn, the vote to defund the authority hit him out of the dark, too.
Vaughn said Wednesday that he had been asked to go into an executive session to discuss the economic development authority.
When Vaughn determined that the commission couldn’t legally discuss the matter behind closed doors, he allowed the commissioners to discuss the matter but didn’t think a motion would be made during the meeting Monday.
When District 3 Commissioner Chris Alexander made the motion to defund the authority, he was joined by District 2 Commissioner Casey Freeman. District 4 Commissioner Kenneth Ashworth and District 5 Commissioner Freddie Jones voted against defunding the authority.
Since District 1 Commissioner Horace Harper was not at the meeting, Vaughn had to break a 2-2 tie, and he said he voted to defund the authority because of, among other things, the lack of action by the authority to put together a plan for a “spec” building.
Authority Chairman Jim Stovall said Tuesday morning that the development authority “wouldn’t have any comment on this right now,” and the notification of the cancellation of the authority’s meeting was sent to The Elberton Star at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Harper said Wednesday in The Elberton Star office he would have voted to defund the authority had he been able to attend.
Warner said he would be meeting with two authority members Wednesday and that he had talked to Chairman Jim Stovall. He also said that the authority will try to figure out “what tipped this thing over” before it holds its next meeting.
Elberton Mayor Larry Guest has repeatedly said Warner does not keep the Elberton City Council informed about the authority’s actions, and the Bowman City Council followed Elberton’s lead in cancelling its funding for the authority.