Audit Report

How exciting can it be to know that when you stand up for something, you might eventually make a difference?!  It took 13 years, but TWG, Mary Patrick, and all those that stood and opposed the Bear Creek Reservoir have been vindicated!!

“The taxpayers could be paying several millions of dollars for a reservoir that doesn’t exist and might not ever exist.” —Mary Patrick, 3/14/2004

Folks, I’ve been thinking for days what to write and how to write it.  There is so much—so much that was said back in late 2003 when TWG first found out about the Bear Creek Reservoir (BCR) contract that had been done in secret (Yep! Secret! There’s that word again!).  So much more done in 2004 when the project was continuing to be pushed by JCWSA, Linda Jordan, Steve Jordan, Don Kelly, Ray Gardner, and others that said those that didn’t agree with the BCR were not open minded.  They defended the project and Tommy Craig at every turn; they said we couldn’t miss this chance at a water source for Jasper County.

JCWSA, Frank Sherrill-engineer working with Tommy Craig on several projects (including BCR & JDA), Tommy Craig, W.Dan Roberts—attorney for both JCWSA and JCBOC, and finally the JCBOC worked on a contract totally against the interests of Jasper County and its citizens during 2003.  The proposal was presented by Tommy Craig and Frank Sherrill to a packed courtroom in late 2003, with the board members of JCWSA being the main cheerleaders.

Tommy Craig No BCR

We all owe a big debt of gratitude to the Newton County CITIZENS that protested, pushed, called, and complained about Tommy Craig and his outrageous legal bills they were paying, and the Newton County BOC kept approving and paying.  For years Tommy Craig billed Newton County over $1,000,000 a year.  Part of his bill was for his “legal fees” and part was for his role as “water consultant.”  The Newton County BOC finally authorized a FORENSIC AUDIT to be done, and the parts released list, in minute detail, the fraud perpetuated on the Newton County taxpayers under what was called Bear Creek Reservoir.

Here is a copy of the entire audit:

Anyone that remembers BCR and all the letters to the editor, such as the one reproduced below from 3/14/2004, will find this report a real page turner, very eye opening, and something that shows you that just because the “leaders” of the county push something doesn’t mean that the citizens that fight it are wrong.

Here’s a few highlights of the forensic audit concerning BCR:

  • Tommy Craig knew since March 2008 that BCR was not viable and was not going to be approved. Yet he continued to push it, charge for it, and tell Newton County leaders that it was going to happen (repeatedly). Page 27
  • Eco-Tech & Eco-South were interlocking companies with Tommy Craig and they were involved in BCR, the Newton County landfill, and most likely JDA. The bills were sent to Craig’s office.
  • Page 24 lists Tommy Craig’s role, how he benefitted, and how financially detrimental to the taxpayer’s of Newton County BCR was –in excess of $25M
  • BCR was all perpetuated and supervised by Tommy Craig bringing money in for himself and business associates and some relatives
  • Tommy Craig “used insider information to influence county leaders”
  • Tommy Craig was intent to continue & prolong the BCR project to his financial benefit and to the financial harm of the taxpayers
  • Tommy Craig knew years in advance the reservoir would not be approved.
  • Page 41- BCR was “disguised as a water supply, but was really an amenity lake to benefit realtors” (and we add to benefit “developers” and land speculators)

Page.55  of the audit shows the BCR Financial damage summary and Page 57 shows the payments that directly benefited TC or close associates &/or relatives. Page 82 shows the summary observations.  The audit details of the land acquistions for the BCR are particularly interesting.

You can also read other articles about the report here and see a WSB-TV report:

Forensic Audit: Actions ‘caused financial harm and damage to the taxpayers of Newton County’

FBI, GBI and Newton County District Attorney have received the document—Covington News

 Audit: Tommy Craig misled Newton County commissioners on reservoir project—Rockdate Citizen

Audit cites ‘financial damages’ to Newton County taxpayers—Covington News

Newton County forensic audit says millions in damage to taxpayers -AJC

Mismanagement costs Newton County taxpayers $29M, audit claims .—WSB-TV

TWG will also have more information on this audit, and how many of the players in the BCR project are the same as the Newton County Landfill project and the Joint Development Authority (4 County Development Authority).

” Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” -Aldous Huxley ….or because they are considered “negative” by those that don’t like the facts or try to cover them up!


The Monticello News —-3/14/04 LETTERS

Dear Editor:

At their March 1, 2004 meeting, I presented some information to the Commissioners concerning the cost of the proposed reservoir.

I am a little surprised that none of them have contacted me to request further information or to ask questions. One Commissioner had told me previously that all he wanted to do was get the letter back from the attorney that is reviewing the contract, modify the contract, and sign it. Here are my concerns both as a citizen in this county and as chairman of the TWG. (The Watchdog Group)

First, I don’t think anyone realizes what the real cost of Bear Creek Reservoir (BCR) will be. We have been told that we will pay $2 million or $35,000 per quarter to pay for what Newton County has already done. Over 25 years this $2 million will become $3.5 million.

Second, when (if) the reservoir is built, Newton County tells us it will cost approximately $23 million (including a 15% contingency). 

Our 25% will be around $6 million. That means Jasper County property owners will be paying $8 million, not $2 million. If Newton County only charges us 5% interest, this $8 million will become $14 million. We will be paying NewtonCounty almost as much in interest as we are in principal. Newton County needs this money to pay for the revenue bonds that they have already floated on BCR. There is no revenue from BCR because there is no reservoir; however there will be revenue when Jasper County starts making these payments.

Third, I gave the Commissioners a chart showing what the cost would be just to continue to purchase water from Newton County on the contract that the JCWSA already has with Newton County. This chart shows our population and water usage increasing for 50 years to match the figures Newton County has presented. If you start with the cost of water that JCWSA is now paying to buy water and you increase it every year by 1.5%, the total cost of water will be $5.5 million over 50 years.

Another huge concern is real cost of the reservoir. After doing research on many reservoirs, it seems they all cost at least 3 times more than originally estimated. Some examples to back this statement up are RockdaleCounty’s reservoir was estimated to cost $3.25 million–”it ended up costing $23 million (almost 8 times more). Yahoola Creek Reservoir in Lumpkin County was estimated to cost $3-4 million; so far it has cost $14 million and isn’t finished yet. If the same holds true with BCR, it will cost $70 million or more. 

Reservoirs also take years to complete. The 2/18/04 issue of the Newton Citizen quoted Newton County officials as saying that the BCR and treatment plant would be constructed in 2017. That’s 13 more years. (Costs will go up in 13 years–how much is only a guess.) Rockdale’s reservoir took 8 years longer than expected to complete. The West Georgia Regional Reservoir project over near Bremen has been ongoing for 12 years, has cost the taxpayers $12 million, has not yet been approved by the Federal agencies, and has now been put on hold and is very likely not going to be built. [Note: WGRR was never built, but GA DNR paid Tommy Craig $2M.)

This exact same thing can happen with Bear Creek Reservoir. The taxpayers could be paying several millions of dollars for a reservoir that doesn’t exist and might not ever exist. There are many citizens in this county that have done research such as this, written letters, and will become more mobilized if and when the BCR permit is again applied for. It seems that alternative sources of water may be available that would be much cheaper in the long run and Jasper County would be in control of it’s own water.

It is up to all the people in Jasper County to ask the Commissioners to look at the real cost (there are many other issues I could go into), the time table, the open ended contract, etc. Some have said that those of us who object to rushing into signing this contract are “hard-headed obstructionist.” These are the very people that have done no research on their own. The Commissioners should sit down and go over the information with an open mind. A 50-year contract will burden many future generations, and it is up to those of us that will pay for it to make sure it is a good deal for Jasper County.

Mary Patrick



Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

Posted in County, Open Government, Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments


December 1, 2016

An open letter to JDA in response to their DEMAND letter.

Dear JDA,

I didn’t realize YOU had already made the decision that the $1.1 Billion of bonds were NOT secret.  I guess I didn’t get that message, because I personally still believe they were secret.  I base my opinion on the following facts.

Why do I say the $1.1 BILLION of JDA bonds were secret?

  1. There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in any local paper in any of the 4 counties from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.
  2. There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in the Atlanta Journal -AJC (regional) from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.

  3. There were no reports mentioning the amount of the bonds in Atlanta Business Chronicle (business) from 2012 to 2015 that I could find.

  4. The bonds were never mentioned in any of the JDA’s own annual financial compilations from 2012 to 2015. That is until the 2015 financials were released after the January 2016 revelation; then suddenly the $1.1 Billion of bonds were mentioned in the financial notes.

  5. The amount of the bonds were hidden in layers of documents. There were four or five documents (some with 100 pages or more) that had to be read, each one mentioning another document, before the bond amount of $1,136,600,000 was mentioned.

Maybe all the other citizens in the 4 counties except me knew about these bonds.  However, if everyone else had known, it doesn’t seem likely the JDA would be so concerned that you had to send your lawyer to every BOC in the 4 counties to explain and assure them that the $1.1 Billion of bonds would never be the counties’ liability.  If everyone already knew about the bonds, why was the JDA so upset when questions started arising, and why did you react with such intensity? 

Andrea Gray, your lawyer, has contended that the bonds were revealed to the commissioners and school boards in 2012, but in reality only the tax incentives given to Baxter were openly revealed.  Even the documents signed by the School Boards (I have copies of Newton’s and Walton’s) only mentioned tax incentives, not bonds.  I was a commissioner at this time, and took very good notes at the Charlie Elliott meeting and every other meeting—no bonds were ever mentioned.

The JDA says the issue of the “secrecy” of the $1.1 Billion in bonds for Baxter was settled in January 2016 and DEMANDS a retraction of my statement that the bonds were secret and very, very few people knew about them.  My opinion is based on the above facts, and I stand by it. 

Mary Patrick, Chair
Taxpayer’s Watchdog Group, Inc.

Posted in County, Economic Development, Open Government | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments


November 30, 2016

On November 10, 2016 TWG posted a blog entitled JDA IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.  If you didn’t read it, please do so by clicking the link so you can understand the information in the JDA letter below.

The JDA board and their attorney, Andrea Gray, met in a special called meeting on Thursday, November 17 and then sent TWG a demand letter to correct and retract the blog.  Below is a copy of their letter.  Tomorrow, (12/2/16) we will post the response to their demand.

JDA logo

November 17, 2016

Kathy Mudd, Editor
Monticello News
247 West Washington Street
P.O. Box 30
Monticello, GA 31064

Re: Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County’s Response to the November 10, 2016 article by Mary Patrick titled “JDA is the Gift that Keeps on Giving”

Dear Ms. Mudd:

The Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County (“JDA”) recently announced that Shire will make an $85,000,000 additional investment in its Stanton Springs facility. With this additional investment comes additional tax revenues for the JDA’s four member Counties and School Districts. In addition to the tax revenues,  Shire will pay the JDA a lump sum of $2.5 million toward the JDA’s $5.9 million GEFA loan debt used to fund a portion of the onsite wastewater pretreatment facility. Shire’s additional investment, reallocation of value from personal property to real property, and $2.5 million contribution equates to a 100% increase in tax revenues projected for the Counties and School Districts over the 10-year tax abatement period.

The magnitude of the tax revenues projected over a relatively short time-period is unprecedented in the four Counites. The JDA expects and welcomes questions and is happy to provide additional information to interested persons. To keep the public accurately informed, the JDA seeks to correct erroneous information provided in the letter to the editor and blog post titled “JDA is the Gift that Keeps on Giving” by Mary Patrick of the Taxpayer Watchdog Group. The letter focuses on three main topics, each of which are addressed below:

  1. Revenue Sharing Intergovernmental Agreement

The Revenue Sharing Agreement was amended effective September 20, 2016 to address the payback of tax monies collected prior to 2016 and the collection and payment of tax monies from 2016 forward. It is a 50-year agreement. It allows Newton and Walton Counties and the Newton County School District to payback the monies owed using tax revenue proceeds they receive under the Revenue Sharing Agreement starting in 2020.

The Revenue Sharing Agreement amendment was a joint effort of the attorneys from the four Counties, four School Districts, and the JDA. It was presented at nine (9) public meetings and approved by nine (9) government bodies which include: Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County, Walton County, Jasper County School District, Morgan County School District, Newton County School District, Walton County School District, and the Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County. At each meeting, the payback provisions and the details of tax collection and distribution going forward were discussed in detail.

As a part of the Revenue Sharing Agreement, the JDA is required to prepare and submit an annual budget to the Counties and School Districts. The JDA complied with this requirement in October 2016.

The $85,000,000 in additional bonds were not approved as “part of the new 50-year agreement”.

The JDA agreed to take the steps necessary to issue the $85,000,000 bonds by separate agreement, the Amended Inducement Agreement, which was approved on November 1, 2016. The bonds do not constitute a debt of the Counties and therefore do not require approval by the Counties. Tax revenues received from Shire, or any tenant in Stanton Springs, will be distributed in accordance with the Revenue Sharing Agreement. This was the point made at the November 7, 2016 Jasper County Board of Commissioners meeting. Utilizing the projections which account for the Revenue Sharing Agreement distribution process, Jasper County is projected to receive $5,371,365 in tax revenues over the 10-year tax abatement period.

  1. Bonds

The 2012 bonds issued in connection with Baxter were not “secret”. In its January 27, 2016 letter the JDA dispelled this accusation and demanded that this false statement be retracted from theTaxpayer Watchdog’s Blog post. Having this statement reappear in a new post after it having been proved false is egregious. The JDA, once again, demands that it be retracted and corrected.

As stated above, the JDA and the Counties are not and cannot be obligated to make payments on the Bonds. The Bonds are issued solely to evidence Shire’s capital investment in its facility located at Stanton Springs. Shire is both the bondholder and lessee under the bond program, obligated to pay itself on the Bonds through a book-entry notation. Pursuant to Georgia case law, in order for the Project to receive the reduction in ad valorem property taxes offered to Shire by the JDA, the Project must be owned and financed in connection with a bond deal. There is no economic value to the bonds outside of the property tax reduction and they are not considered to be true debt.

The benefits to Shire associated with the 2016 bond transaction are the $22 million in property tax savings over a 10-year period. This tax savings is in addition to the substantial state and local incentives provided in the 2012 Inducement Agreement. The benefits to the JDA are an additional $28 million in property tax revenues over the 10-year period, approximately $10,000,000 per year in tax revenues after the abatement ends (year 11 forward), and a $2.5 million lump sum payment towards its GEFA loan debt which reduces its annual payments by $100,000. These benefits have a direct positive impact on the amount and timing of tax revenues received by the Counties and School Districts.

The estimates of tax revenues to Jasper County is based on the best available information. Shire provided estimates of its real and personal property values.

  1. Sale of JDA Land/Bank of Madison debts

In the Fall of 2015 an opportunity to sell a portion of the JDA’s property was carefully considered but ultimately not consummated. The land sale would have paid off the JDA’s Bank of Madison debts. Instead, the four Counties pledged a portion of their tax revenues received from the Shire project to pay the debts. The JDA applied timber sale proceeds to reduce the balance.

The JDA is grateful for the support of its state and local leaders and citizens. The vision, planning and investment in Stanton Springs has resulted in great success with just one tenant, Shire. The latest news of Shire’s additional investment is celebratory. Publicly circulated inaccurate information should not cast a cloud of negativity on the four Counties’ accomplishments.


Alan S. Verner,



Posted in County, Economic Development, Property taxes | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


November 29, 2016

The following notice appeared in EACH of the four counties’ newspapers this past week.  This notice is for the issue of $85,000,000 of additional bonds, issued by JDA for Baxter/Baxalta  and will run for 2 weeks before the hearing. 

The JDA has stated that the additional $85,000,000 of bonds will save Baxter/Baxalta/Shire $22,000,000 in property taxes over a 10 year period.  These tax incentives are given away while the citizens in each county continue to pay more property taxes. 


JDA logo


YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that on the 7th day of December, 2016, at 9:00 A.M., at the Morgan County Courthouse in the City of Madison, Georgia, the Judge of the Superior Court of Morgan County will hear the case of the STATE OF GEORGIA, Plaintiff, v. JOINT DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF JASPER COUNTY, MORGAN COUNTY, NEWTON COUNTY AND WALTON COUNTY and BAXALTA US INC., Defendants, Civil Action File No. 2016 CA 251, in the Superior Court of Morgan County, the same being a proceeding to confirm and validate an issue of the additional Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County Taxable Industrial development Revenue Bonds (Baxter Healthcare Real Property Project), Series 2012A, and  Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County Taxable Industrial development Revenue Bonds (Baxter Healthcare Equipment Project), Series 2012B (collectively, the “Additional Bonds”), in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $85,000,000.  

The Bonds will be issued on a parity with the outstanding $1,136,600,000 Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton, and Walton County Taxable Industrial Development Revenue Bonds  ………………..

……for the purpose of financing, in whole or in part, the cost of acquiring, constructing, and installing certain real property, buildings, structures, machinery and equipment in connection with a Project located in Newton County, Georgia and Walton County, Georgia (the “Project”) for Baxalta US Inc., ……

Said Project is currently leased by the Issuer to the Company pursuant to a Lease Agreement, dated as of July 30, 21012, as amended, which Lease Agreement will be further amended by an Amendment to Lease Agreement, to be dated as of the date of its execution and delivery to reflect the issuance of the Additional Bonds.

In said proceeding the Court will also pass upon the validity of said Amendment to Lease Agreement, a Supplemental Indenture of Trust, an Amendment to Guaranty Agreement, an Amendment to Bond Purchase Agreement, an Amendment Tax Valuation Agreements in connection therewith.


Any citizen of the State of Georgia residing in said Counties, or any other person residing who has a right to object, may intervene and become a party to this proceeding.

This 17th day of November, 2016.

/s/ Jody M. Moss

Clerk, Superior Court, Morgan County, Georgia


NOTE: The entire legal ad is in EACH of the four counties’ newspaper.



Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

Posted in Economic Development, Property taxes | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments


November 27, 2016

Jasper County does NOT license bars or nightclubs.  It only approves pouring licenses to restaurants, and requires that over 50% of the sales are for food.


Haystack Wings & Thangz is applying for a pouring license for the third time, and will go before the BOC on Monday, December 5 at 6:00PM. 

In September, their application for liquor, beer, and wine was turned down by the BOC in a 3-1 vote (Salmon absent.)  In October they appealed the denial, dropped the liquor request, and asked for a beer and wine pouring license.  It was denied by a 3-1 vote (Trammell absent).

In Thursday’s paper (11/24/16), Haystack Wings & Thangz appears twice in the ad for alcohol licenses that will be heard by the BOC on December 5 at 6PM. All other applicants in the list are for RENEWALS of alcohol licenses.  Haystack has never been approved for an alcohol license, but is included in the list.  This license approval is not advertised as a public hearing.

Haystack is applying for a 2016 license to be effective during December—which means Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve parties.  A pouring license cost approximately $1,000. 

They are also applying for a 2017 license. 

We repeat, a license is only to be approved for a restaurant setting.  Sources tell TWG that Haystack is not open 5 days a week, and there has been very little business, except on Sunday.  Is the reason for the pouring license to help food sales or to become a bar?

If an alcohol license is approved, who will be running this operation and what is their background?  Ms. West, the applicant, stated at the previous hearing that she worked full time and would hire someone to run it.

The alcohol license for this location has been turned down twice after two public hearings.  There has been nothing but trouble at this location for over 8 years and numerous problems were stated during the two public hearings by the residents that live nearby.  The codes have not been followed in the past, because a “weekend bar” on Hwy 142 was allowed.

The citizens that live in this area should be considered above all else.


Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

Posted in Code Enforcement, County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


November 18, 2016

Why waste an entire day driving to north Georgia to see the leaves turning, when a drive through Jasper County will give you all the color and beauty you could want?


Coming into Jasper County on Hwy 11 N, you can see the leaves turning in colors of gold, red, yellow, green, and orange.  Turn on Bethel Church Rd., then left on Hwy 16W, and then turn right on Clay Road.  A drive down Clay Road will thrill you with the colors and peaceful countryside.

You can take Hwy 16 E out toward Eatonton for more color and an idyllic drive.  You can take most any other road or highway in Jasper County and see the fall beauty.

Take a ride around Jasper County this weekend and enjoy the color, beauty, and rural atmosphere of our beautiful county.



Posted in County, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments



November 16, 2016

Prop Value Up


At the recent 11/7/16 meeting, Chief Assessor Lynn Bentley gave a 23 minute presentation to the BOC about “why she does what she does.”  It is her job to oversee the property values in this county and to make sure they are correctly valued in uniformity with other similar properties.

The State has guidelines and standards that each county must follow.  Ms. Bentley went over some of these with the commissioners, but it was obvious the information concerning PRD’s and COD’s, sales ratios, means and medians,  the “top number” and “bottom number” was over everyone’s head.

Ms. Bentley addressing the BOC, said, “Why do I do this?  Because I want to raise taxes or have appeals?  No!”  She went on to say that she has to keep raising values to keep the ratio at 40 because the real estate market is moving fast.  The State requires all property to be valued at Fair Market Value (FMV) and the sales ratio to be somewhere between 36 and 40.

Comm. Luke asked, “What does this say to John Q Public?”  Lynn Bentley answered, “Their values are going up again.  This is my job.  They will get a new assessment every year.” 

Comm. Trammell assured everyone that “Jasper County was in the middle” and our taxes weren’t too high compared to surrounding counties.  This is not comforting coming from someone who has not minded raising our taxes 22% over the past 3 years.

Folks, go ahead and start saving now, because your next property assessment notice will be in the mailbox before you know it. 


Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.


Posted in County, Property taxes | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments