Mosely, Perry clash at meeting

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011

County Commission Chairman Butch Mosely and past chairman, Commissioner Earl Perry, clashed over how commissioners’ Tuesday morning meeting was conducted.

The first disagreement happened when Commissioner Perry introduced a motion attempting to reverse a decision commissioners had made at their previous meeting.

At commissioners’ Feb. 22 meeting, they discussed the sale of land parcels where voting places made obsolete by last year’s consolidation had been located. While the precinct buildings had been moved to the Swine Time grounds in Climax for historical display, the properties were still owned by the county.

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The three former precincts in question were Parker, located off Georgia 262 North; Bell, located on Davis Johnson Road off 262 South; and Pine Hill, located on Pine Hill Road off U.S. 27 North.

At the suggestion of County Attorney Brown Moseley, commissioners had unanimously agreed to sell the properties through a sealed bidding process. According to the attorney, Parker precinct’s deed stipulated that it be returned to its original owner if the land ceased to be used as a courthouse.

Attorney Moseley previously said he recommended taking sealed bids instead of holding an auction because the two remaining parcels would probably not attract much interest, except from the owners of adjacent properties. He explained he believed this was because the Pine Hill parcel, 0.49 acres in size, and the Bell parcel, half an acre in size, are too small to develop on under county building regulations.

On Tuesday, however, Perry said he had researched the requirements of state law concerning local governments’ disposal of surplus land. He said he now favored just asking the owners of properties adjoining the former precincts to submit an offer to purchase the land. Perry said he wanted to save the county money it would otherwise have to spend on advertising the sales and printing detailed legal descriptions of the properties if it took sealed bids or held an auction.

Conflict of interest?

Chairman Mosely said he didn’t think Perry should make that motion since one of his relatives owned an adjoining property and suggested Perry recuse himself from the matter. After the meeting, Perry said the Bell parcel had been deeded to the county by his great-grandfather; his sister still owns property adjoining the parcel.

County Attorney Moseley acknowledged state law allows for multiple methods of selling the land but said he didn’t believe it would be in the county’s best interest to do a private sale.

Commissioner Mosely said he wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

County Treasurer Claude Shirley, who at times has criticized commissioners, asked to speak and Chairman Mosely recognized him. Perry objected; saying the time for public participation had passed.

Ultimately, Perry’s motion died after it was only supported by himself and Commissioner Charles Stafford. Perry said later his request to hold a private sale had nothing to do with family and was only made in an effort to save the county money.

At the end of commissioners’ regular meeting, Perry and Mosely crossed each other again. Mosely, who as chairman has made a point of being specific as possible when stating the purposes of commissioners’ closed meetings, asked to add personnel to the list of items to be discussed in the closed session. A closed session was already on the agenda for the purpose of discussing land acquisition and litigation.

Perry said he didn’t think that was allowed because commissioners had already voted to set their agenda earlier in the meeting.

County Attorney Moseley said he didn’t know of any reason why commissioners couldn’t vote again to add what Commissioner Mosely had suggested and they proceeded to do so.

In 2009, when former Commissioner Palmer Rich was chairman, the board voted 3-2 to appoint Perry as its vice-chairman, a role Mosely had previously served in. In 2010, the board voted 3-2 to select Perry as its chairman and Mosely was elected vice-chairman by unanimous vote.

Later in the year, commissioners successfully had their bylaws changed by the state legislature to make the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship determined by rotating the roles based on commissioners’ seniority.