Commissioners allow Johnson to drive county vehicle for personal use
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An outspoken critic of county government took issue Tuesday with the county administrator being permitted to drive a leased county vehicle to and from his home in Miller County.
During the public comment section of this week’s meeting of the Grady County Commission, Betty Godwin, a resident of Pine Park Road, questioned the arrangement and why it had not been previously approved by the board in a public meeting.
On Tuesday’s agenda was a formal action to approve or deny the administrator permission to drive the county vehicle out-of-the-county to his home in Miller County.
Godwin said that when Johnson was hired last year he had indicated he would not have a problem getting to and from work while being a resident of another county. She said that the administrator recently gave a speech in which he had commented that he did not “need” the job with Grady County.
Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson said later in the meeting that he had discussed the use of the county vehicle with commissioners previously. County officials also say the matter was discussed briefly during a closed session on July 16.
Johnson said Tuesday that in lieu of any additional compensation, he had requested permission to drive the county vehicle home when it is available.
“You all agreed to it previously. I’m just asking for you to approve it publicly,” Johnson said.
On a motion by Vice Chairman Keith Moye and a second by Commissioner Ray Prince, the board voted 4-1 to approve the administrator’s use of the county vehicle. Only Commissioner June Knight voted in opposition and commented she had not been aware of the arrangement previously.
Johnson said it was mentioned in a meeting with all of the board present, but he apologized if she was not aware.
The board also met Tuesday morning behind closed doors for an evaluation of the administrator. Following the closed session, the board voted unanimously to extend Johnson’s current employment agreement with the county through Dec. 31, 2019.
According to Grady County Commission Chairwoman LaFaye Copeland, the extension was approved in order to align future contracts with the county’s Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 fiscal year.
Johnson was hired last year and his current employment agreement would have expired this month.
Godwin, in addition to questioning Johnson’s use of the county vehicle, also raised issues she had with the administrator’s employment agreement with the county. She voiced her support for county employees all being treated fairly and alleged the terms of Johnson’s contract were superior to benefits offered other county personnel.