Patton: I was in a ‘hostile work environment’

Published 1:42 pm Friday, March 2, 2012

Former County Administrator Tom Patton said Thursday that he resigned from his position because of a “hostile work environment.” Patton submitted his resignation during a Tuesday evening meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, amid a controversy that he failed to report a sewage spill at the Decatur County wastewater treatment plant in February 2011.

“I was spending more time on defending myself against unfounded allegations and attacks, than I was spending time on working on the business of the county,” he said. “It was increasingly becoming a hostile work environment, and it was just time for me to look in different directions.”

Patton said he believes the spill did not exceed 10,000 gallons, which he stated was below the threshold that would require the county to report it to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). On Friday, Feb. 24, Board Chairman C.T. Stafford, County Staff Attorney Brown Moseley and wastewater treatment facility engineer Stacy Watkins met with EPD officials in Atlanta to discuss the spill, which originally took place in February 2011 but did not come to public light until last month.

Stafford said Tuesday that the county likely will avoid any major penalties from the EPD.

“I believe, that based on the information I was given, that it was less than 10,000 gallons,” Patton said. “It was not reportable, and that is what we followed. I was never told any different until a year later.”

Patton was hired in December 2006, after previously serving as the city manager for the City of Cornelia, Ga. He had previously retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 35 years of service with the rank of colonel, after serving in various command positions.

Patton said he plans to spend some time with his family, including children and grandchildren in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I was in a military career for much of my life, and I was not able to see my family as much as I would have liked,” he said.

Patton said he hopes for “nothing but the best” for Decatur County, in the future.

“There are a lot of great folks in Decatur County, and I wish them nothing but the best,” he said.