July 27, 2014
When JCWSA becomes the subject of conversation with Gene Trammell and Craig Salmon facts do not matter. What you can twist and turn and say happened, are what matters; not the actual documents, letters, forms, or news articles, and the fact the public voted against having JCWSA in 1998.
It has always appeared that Trammell and Salmon ran for their commission seats in order to bail out JCWSA and to dump that debt on the taxpayers of this county. They tried doing so while they were on the JCWSA by repeatedly threatening lawsuits against the BOC. Salmon is still trying to convince USDA to step in and demand the BOC pay for JCWSA’s debt by writing letters on his own and not at the direction of the BOC. This is an ethical violation on his part, and on the part of the rest of the BOC for not stopping him.
Trammell and Salmon have all but succeeded in getting the taxpayers to bail out (once again) the JCWSA by convincing Luke and Henry to believe everything they and the county manager present. Pennamon has always voted to support JCWSA. Luke and Henry have no background in knowing any of the history of JCWSA except what Salmon and Trammell have convinced them of. They haven’t reviewed the numerous documents available—instead Luke has spouted off about how the county won’t be able to get loans or have a good credit rating if JCWSA fails to pay USDA in a timely manner, and even how USDA would come in and turn off people’s water. As a note, USDA loans millions of dollars a DAY for all types of projects, and we have yet to read where they have sued anyone for being late on their payments (such as JCWSA) or even when they went bankrupt (such as Peachtree City and its golf course several years ago). Fear mongering has allowed JCWSA to get money from the BOC for years; Luke, Salmon, and Trammell tried to continue that trend at the 7/21/14 BOC meeting.
Luke was ready to give money to JCWSA Monday night after Karen Degges presented her messy and complicated (her words) work sheet to come up with just the figure Trammell and Salmon wanted for JCWSA and to suggest (no doubt, at their prompting over the past few weeks) that all this be paid to JCWSA right now since the county had so much money. (See COUNTY FLOATING IN MONEY ACCORDING TO COUNTY MANAGER) Degges had been out of the office the prior week due to illness in her family; she came back only for that night’s meeting and to present her work sheet and her recommendations—fronting JCWSA money for this year’s taxes and giving money they say is due to them. It is an amazing coincidence that these figures are so much like the figures presented by JCWSA and their lawyer in December. Salmon and Trammell couldn’t present the figures themselves or it would be perceived as a greater conflict of interest than it appears now.
Salmon stated in the meeting that he had the letter from USDA for a month and had given it to each BOC member then. It appeared he and Trammell have worked with Degges to come up with what happened in the meeting 7/21/14. Trammell mentioned the exchange of emails with Degges.
In 2009, Brack Pound, the Chair of JCWSA, convinced Ronnie Payne that the BOC owed JCWSA money. That amount was $27,860 which was paid 8/18/09. This was approved 3-2 with Payne, Pennamon, and Hill voting yes; Patrick and Cox voting no. (This was the last meeting Payne attended. He resigned about 2 weeks later.) After this payment, no more money was supposed to be due; this was all the JCWSA needed and everything would be fine—a story that had been repeated numerous times by JCWSA. That happened before Salmon got on the JCWSA board.
Fast forward to the 7/21/14 meeting. The same old resolution was brought up about paying for fire hydrants. The resolution is null and void, not because it was voted as such in 2012 but because it is not in the minutes of the 7/1/02 meeting and there is no recorded vote of it ever being discussed or voted on. STATE LAW says for any resolution or contract to be valid, it has to be spread in the minutes of the meeting when it was approved. It wasn’t! Trammell and Salmon know this but still talk of the resolution as if it is sacrosanct.
Salmon has brought up having all this investigated (including ASWA) 3 times. Three times the BOC has denied him and the attorney has suggested to him 3 times to stop bringing it up. Instead Salmon wrote the USDA a letter, all but begging them to get involved and sue the county. He was elected a county commissioner, but his loyalties are not with the taxpayers and citizens he represents, but with the JCWSA and bankers and developers that want the county (taxpayers) to fund JCWSA so they can make more money.
Here is a copy of Salmon’s email to Senator Isakson’s office in April, which was forwarded to USDA:
Here is a copy of the response from USDA dated June 2014 to Salmon (not to the BOC):
Trammell read this letter out loud as if it was an indictment of the county. Instead it clearly admonishes the JCWSA for not taking care of its own business and suggested if they couldn’t make payments to raise their rates. Even while seemingly threatening the county with unspecified consequences, the message is clear, USDA can do nothing to pursue a perceived breach of contract between JCWSA and the Jasper County government. The county attorney told the BOC as much; he said he heard no threats of USDA doing anything when the letter was read.
If you want facts, here is one–NO hydrants were mentioned in the USDA scope of work and loan conditions dated July 17, 2002– 15 days after the alleged BOC fire hydrant resolution. In Section E of the loan conditions, it specifically notes a $30,000 per year commitment purportedly made by the county, and no mention of a fire hydrant fee. After all these years and all the documents we have obtained and reviewed, never once have we ever seen anything between JCWSA and the USDA concerning the loan which mentions fire hydrants. We have asked Mark Walton of JCWSA to produce any memos, letters, documents, etc. that show where the BOC asked the JCWSA to install hydrants (as JCWSA claims) and as of this date, none have ever been produced.
After a 30 minute work session (which Luke did not attend) and 46 minutes discussion during the regular meeting, the BOC voted to allow the county attorney to draw up an Intergovernmental Agreement, to last until 2045 according to Trammell, between JCWSA and JCBOC. We have to wonder if this agreement will be in addition to the tax levy that brings in $48,000 plus to the JCWSA each year—about $6,000 a year more than the fire hydrant resolution would provide in funds. We also have to wonder who will pay all this money—the taxpayers of the county or those JCWSA provides water to? And will all this extra money given to JCWSA go to pay on the USDA loan or to service the $40,000 loan made by the Bank of Monticello?
This is just another chapter in the closed door dealings concerning JCWSA. Has anything ever been upfront and public about JCWSA, including its inception? No, it has always been secret and behind our backs, and then it is done and taxpayers find out later. It can’t be open and transparent because the BOC knows that the people don’t want to fund JCWSA, so the secrecy prevails and the citizens get to suffer the consequences.
It’s not what you know, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you worse! This BOC will make sure you understand that.