Currently, the chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners runs the day-to-day operations of the county government.
Under the county manager form of government, a professional manager would be hired by the BOC to run daily operations and the chairman would move into a policy-making role along with the rest of the board. He also would remain the titular head of the government.
Long-time Bethlehem resident Clay McDaniel questioned the need to change the veto power of the chairman.
“If he has the veto and uses the veto, he could still be overridden by the other commissioners,” he said.
Currently it takes the votes of five of the six commissioners to override a veto.
Committee member Scott Hang said a veto provides a cooling-off period to enable the commissioners to gather more information on issues.
Added Newman: “That’s another good reason to leave it in.”
However, David Wills of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said he is aware of only one other county where an elected chairman exercises veto power.
McDaniel asked what would happen to the chairman’s role if the county went to a county manager form of government.
Committee member Pat Graham said the chairman currently serves on other regional boards in addition to running BOC meetings.
But McDaniel questioned why the county would hire someone at a salary of $100,000 to $150,000 “to come back and do the same thing the chairman is doing now.” The chairman’s salary is $65,000.
Graham responded that counties in Georgia have home rule and set the salaries of county commissioners and the chairman. She said the chairman’s salary likely would be cut if his responsibilities were reduced.
Graham said she feels strongly that the chairman as a member of the BOC should exercise more legislative authority by being able to make motions and cast votes – which he cannot do now since he runs operations.
She said the chair is the only board member elected countywide but has less of a voice on the BOC.
The committee has scheduled three more public input sessions.
The next meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Statham City Hall, 327 Jefferson St. in Statham.
The Braselton meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, at the Ace Hardware, 3740 Village Way.
The final public input session will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at the county administration building at 233 East Broad St. in Winder.
The committee is scheduled to present its written recommendations to the BOC on Tuesday, June 14.
The BOC plans to review the recommendations and to forward to the Georgia General Assembly any recommendations for major amendments that would require legislative action and a voter referendum.