Sloppy minutes and defined benefits

Tue, 05/13/2008 - 3:23pm
By: Letters to the ...

I would like to inform the citizens of Fayette County about the method of recording county commission meetings. I was following up on a vote taken this past December concerning defined benefit plans. I searched on the county website for minutes of the meeting of Dec. 5 of last year and other meetings related to the county defined benefit plan proposal.

It was very difficult to follow the minutes of these meetings. I was quite surprised at the informal nature of all of these documents.

In addition, important attachments that included documents that were being discussed were not attached to the various minutes posted to the website.

These meetings should be documented as rigorously as a court trial, and they should be readily accessible to all voters using the website, including attachments.

After all, we are talking about decisions that are made concerning the taxpayers’ money and potential future tax liabilities. Citizens have a right to know what was said and who said it.

I suppose an informal summary could be added as a preface to the recorded minutes, but it is not in the public interest to be vague about history.

I don’t think it is their intent, but it suggests that the commission is hiding something from the taxpayers.

As you know, public information is everything and without it no one is safe. The Sunshine Law is meaningless unless the taxpayers are accurately informed on what happened in pubic meetings.

One of the primary responsibilities of elected officials is to make every effort to keep the citizens informed through all means available to them.

I for one would like see the candidates running for county commission this fall make accurate public disclosure of commission meetings a campaign issue.

Apparently, some years ago these meetings were documented verbatim. Who is sitting on the commission now that voted to change the way these meetings are documented? And more importantly, why was the method changed?

I can tell you from personal experience, the current method of recording these meetings is not in the taxpayers’ interest.

[On the subject of defined benefits,] Commissioner Frady, I want to thank you again for your phone call concerning the defined benefits plan for Fayette employees. I was delighted to hear that you stand in opposition to the plan that will be proposed to the full commission for vote on July 1.

I have attached the minutes of the workshop meeting of Dec. 5, noting that Commissioner Pfeifer voted against Commissioner Maxwell’s motion, that was seconded by Commissioner Horgan, to change the current plan and the development of a contract for a new plan.

I am happy that we can count on your opposition to that contract on July 1.

As you stated, you have been in the forefront of protecting the taxpayers of Fayette County. With Mr. Pfeifer’s and your continued leadership on this issue, I hope that along with the support of the taxpayers you will be able to defeat this expensive method of funding our Fayette County employees’ retirement.

I am certain that voters will remember and return those commissioners that support the defeat of this plan.

I encourage all of the remaining commissioners to face up to their responsibility to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Fayette County on July 1. Vote against the proposed plan contract.

James Wingo

Peachtree City, Ga.

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