October 25, 2016
Gene Trammell was questioned at the Hillsboro forum about the “autopen” being used to sign county checks instead of the BOC signing and reviewing the invoices. It was also questioned if the BOC even knew what the checks were written for. Mr. Trammell admitted that checks are sent out before they were approved by the BOC, but he said he didn’t have to defend the process because he knows how it works.
Based on the conversation at the BOC meeting last night, the process was violated by the County Manager, Mike Benton, when buying another Sheriff’s car without approval from the BOC. How many times has the correct process been violated that the public doesn’t know about?
“We need to be informed in advance,” said Comm. Pennamon, “not to come back and raise the question about the check or whatever now.” There have been 2 or 3 meetings since the check was written (sometime in September) without BOC approval.
Mike Benton has up to a $5,000 limit that he can approve. Comm. Pennamon let him know, in no uncertain terms, that the Board needed to be notified when a check was over the $5,000 limit before he (Mike Benton) approved it and had the check written…and signed with the autopen.
Last night Mr. Benton brought the issue back to the BOC to see if they wanted to “get the money back” by leasing the Sheriff’s vehicle rather than paying for it outright. Comm. Pennamon said there would be 3 more cars the Sheriff would purchase in January, and the BOC needed to decide if they would be purchased outright or financed. That discussion is supposed to take place at the November 7th BOC meeting
Reminder: TWG fought the use of the autopen when Comm. Trammell proposed and pushed it. He said this was something that would bring the county “into the 21st century.” Additionally, Trammell said that he didn’t have time to come sign the checks—BUT HE IS AT THE COURTHOUSE EVERY DAY!! It is our opinion that the autopen does away with accountability and oversight over the county spending.
If the commissioners are too busy to look at the checks and the invoices, they are really too busy to be commissioners.
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.