Loeffler steps down from finance committee

Published 4:37pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Commissioner Frank Loeffler has decided to step down from the Decatur County finance committee.

Loeffler wrote a letter to his fellow commissioners and County Administrator Gary Breedlove, explaining his decision Wednesday. Loeffler had served on the committee along with Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry and Commissioner Russell Smith. The finance committee’s duties include reviewing the annual budget line-by-line, and determining — with the help of department heads and constitutional officers — which expenditures could potentially be cut.

Loeffler said he was disappointed by the events of the Tuesday, Oct. 9, meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners. During that meeting, Smith made a motion to fire County Attorney Brown Moseley, saying that Moseley was costing the county too much money. That motion ultimately failed by a 3-3 vote — Loeffler was one of the three to vote against the firing.

Loeffler said that it was his understanding that the finance committee members were going to meet with Moseley later, during the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 9. He was completely surprised that Smith made a motion in the morning public meeting.

“I absolutely felt betrayed by one of my own commitee members,” Loeffler said. “I feel so strongly about it, that I would just rather not be on that committee now.”

Loeffler said he would have resigned earlier, but he had to be out of town on a trip immediately following the Oct. 9 meeting. In fact, he said he had postponed leaving for the trip, because he specifically was planning to meet with Moseley, Smith and Stafford on the evening of Oct. 9.

“I hope this reaction doesn’t come out as childish,” Loeffler said. “But I trusted those guys; we had really worked together as a group. I was absolutely dumbfounded and had no earthly idea Russell was going to do that.

“I’d just as soon get out of it, with no hard feelings. I just felt like I was blindsided.”

Loeffler said he has been serving on the finance committee since he became a commissioner in January 2011.

Smith said he understood Loeffler’s frustration with the way that the Oct. 9 meeting was handled. He said he didn’t tell Loeffler about the planned motion, because he was concerned other commissioners — specifically Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely — might try to sway Loeffler’s vote.

“I didn’t want anybody lobbying with the commissioners; I wanted them to vote their convictions,” Smith said. “I felt that we probably didn’t have the votes [for my motion], but I still wanted the public to know about the issues we were facing with the county attorney.”

Smith said that the finance committee has only had two members in the past. He explained that he and Perry were the only members from 2008 through 2010, when they asked Loeffler to join. Smith noted that being a member of the finance committee requires a lot of time and other sacrifices.

“We probably work four to five days a week for about two months, when we’re working on the annual budget,” Smith said. “It takes a lot of time and commitment. I don’t know of anyone else who wants to be on it, because it’s very political. My opponent is even using it against me, saying that [the finance committee] ‘broke the county.’”

Smith said he was disappointed Loeffler has chosen to leave the committee.

“Frank was very positive and had some useful insight,” he said. “He was always a plus to that committee and I thought we worked well together.

Loeffler said that he was open to the possibility of rejoining the committee in January 2013. By that time, Perry will have retired and the newly-elected commissioners will be in place. Dennis Brinson has already been elected to replace Dr. Charles Stafford, and Smith is facing a challenge from Terry Ellis in the November election. In addition, a new commissioner must be appointed by the Board of Commissioners to fill Perry’s remaining term.

The text of Loeffler’s letter to the commissioners and Breedlove is as follows:

“After the previous commissioners’ meeting, October 9, 2012, I have decided to step down as a member of the Finance Committee. I felt betrayed by the actions of one of the members of the Finance Committee, Vice Chairman Smith, as it related to Attorney Brown Moseley’s affair. I would like to be reconsidered as a member of the Finance Committee after January 1, 2013.

Sincerely, Frank Loeffler, County Commissioner.”

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