COUNTY AUDITOR RESPONDS

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Argument #1 is not an array in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/public_html/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/public_html/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Argument #1 is not an array in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/public_html/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).

By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Writer

 

The Clayton County Board of Supervisors met Monday with County Auditor Dennis Freitag, who was placed under oath and asked several questions about his job performance. Although Freitag’s attorney Peter Riley of Cedar Rapids indicated that Freitag had provided a written report to the Supervisors last Friday, Chairman Gary Bowden said that the report did not address the concerns outlined in a document earlier given to the auditor.

In the sometimes contentious deposition, Freitag was asked questions about budget concerns for the previous and current fiscal years, checks not being deposited, unpaid claims, unread emails and other matters. 

According to Supervisor Chair Gary Bowden, the auditor’s office has fallen behind in several areas. Freitag, who is dealing with a family medical emergency, has worked no more than 20 hours a month since May, Bowden said. In August, the Supervisors agreed to Freitag’s proposal to hire Loyce Dumpke as a Special Chief Deputy Auditor to help get the office up to speed. Dumpke’s appointment is for 90 days. 

Gibbs also stated that Freitag had suggested that he could work from home to manage the office affairs, monitor emails and do county business. In a prepared statement, Gibbs said “the Auditor (has) failed to fulfill any portion of this agreement, leaving the Board of Supervisors without the financial information needed to operate properly.”

            Supervisor Ron McCartney asked Freitag if all transfers and budget items for the FY2015 budget had been entered into the county computer system. Freitag replied that those items were already in the computer or at his home. When McCartney asked how Fretiag’s office was supposed to access files, Freitag replied: “I’m a 24-hour-a-day care giver (for my wife. If my staff needs (the files) they can get them any time.  All they have to do is come to my house.”

Freitag was questioned about township record books kept at his home; Freitag said he had four of them.  “If I want to work at home, I have to have them at home,” he said.

Bowden said that some communities have had issues with TIF parcels and asked Freitag if he had met with members of those communities.  “I’m not required to do so, but I have met with some and have given information to others,” Freitag replied.

On the topic of inputting journal entries into the computer system, Freitag said he has not had time to do some of that work.  He also admitted that he’s been unable to show up for work on several occasions, again noting that he’s a 24-hour caregiver.

He said, “You expect me to show up 7½ hours a day at the office. You also cut one of my deputy clerks last year.”

Bowden questioned Freitag’s priorities, asking whether or not the auditor golfs weekly. Freitag said that he does golf as a stress-reliever.

 “As I said, I am a 24-hour caregiver,” he continued. “I get about three hours a week of recreational time (a week) to relieve stress. How many hours do you supervisors work?”

“We are 24/7 also,” Supervisor Gibbs said.  “But this isn’t about you and your family life.  It’s about what you know and have to do to keep the county running and the budget square. We’re going into budget year 2017 and we’re still working on our 2015 budget. Your staff should not have to run to your house to get information.”

When Freitag accused the Supervisors of anger, vengeance and animosity, Supervisor Bowden said that the board earlier asked Freitag to take a leave of absence, but that Freitag stated that his auditor work was therapeutic.

“For three months, you didn’t look at your emails,” Bowden said.  “There were 1,645 unopened ones and your voice mail was full. Over 900 of those messages were before June (of this year). Some of (those messages) were from people trying to get permits or information.”

“Frankly, I didn’t have the time,’ Freitag said.  “My cell phone was broken, and it took me two months to replace it, so I didn’t receive those voice mails.  I’m also not aware of how many of those emails contain past due claims or late fees.”

Other issues discussed were bills dating back to June 2013, for election fees to communities totaling more than $35,000 and the publication of official meeting minutes in area newspapers. Until recently, minutes had not been published for more than six months.

At the end of the meeting, Freitag requested to make a statement but Bowden closed the meeting, which County Attorney Alan Heavens, who was present, indicated Bowden could do. “You have set me up for failure,” Freitag said, after Bowden made his decision, “not only this year, but last year. It seems like now is the time to kick me and make sure I don’t get up again.”

Supervisor Bowden said that he strongly disagreed with the statement and that the Board had tried to work things out in several different ways. Bowden said the supervisors would review the proceedings of the meeting. Going forward they have three options: do nothing; hire a budget direction at a cost of $60-$70,000; or utilize a provision in state law (Chapter 66) that provides for removing an elected official from office. 

Register Editor Pam Reinig contributed to this article.

 

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (6 votes)