SYLVESTER, Ga. -- The Worth County Commission voted Thursday to terminate five county employees and make drastic budget changes in several departments, said Billy McDonald, the county's District 4 commissioner and a former commission chairman.
Among those fired were Building and Zoning Manager Ann Jackson, Public Safety mechanic Henry Dixon, Code Enforcement officer Dan Miller; Public Works Director Clay Smith and Melba English, a secretary at Public Works. Smith has been reinstated, at least temporarily, according to McDonald.
"Nobody knew how to write a purchase order," McDonald said. "All he knows is that he has a job through Thursday night."
John Merritt, building inspector for the county, is compensated now on a "per inspection" basis rather than a regular salary, said Dan Miller, another past commission chairman. "He read about it in the newspaper. He didn't know about it till then."
Not all the changes are cuts. The Worth County Recreation Department, operated for some 40 years by the recently deceased Gerald Melton, will be staffed by a director and an assistant, said John Sumner, a Worth resident. According to Sumner, the department will receive a budget of $90,000 -- twice the previous recreation budget.
"It took two people to replace him. I wonder if they're expecting twice the work." Sumner said. "They seem to be dancing to their own tune. I've asked a lot of questions that haven't been answered."
Sumner said the commission has promised to answer his questions at its next meeting, which is set for Thursday evening. He and others have been told that the budget may be amended, thus soothing some citizen concerns. If last week's turnout is an indication, there will be a large audience. To accommodate attendees, that meeting was moved to a larger area, reports say.
Billy McDonald said there is dissatisfaction among residents that commission business is slow and uncertain. In particular, he expressed frustration that Chairman Matt Medders has been absent from the past five meetings. McDonald said Medders cites "personal reasons" for the absences.
Dan Miller was also concerned.
"If he's not going to attend meetings, he should go ahead and resign and let somebody come in to protect the taxpayers. They're the ones who pay all the bills," Miller said.
Medders could not be reached for comment.
"I've been on the board many many years and I've never seen anything like this. Some don't seem to have an interest in (the commission)," McDonald said. "I still operate a farm full-time and I'm able to do it."
According to McDonald, Worth County is "not in bad financial shape," and has a reserve fund, which the commission has declined to use.