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Voters to consider PSA referendum on ballot

Early voting started this week, but most countywide voters only have one ballot referendum to decide. 

This ballot question involves some proposed changes to the Camden County Public Service Authority (PSA), which oversees countywide recreation and parks. The authority is currently governed by a board that includes all three local mayors and two county commissioners.

In November citizens can vote on House Bill 681 (HB 681), which will essentially expand the board to nine members, explain who is eligible to be on the board and mandate annual independent certified audits.

House Bill 681 recap

The PSA board revealed in spring 2018 that it had been the victim of financial mismanagement and theft. 

Former PSA director William Brunson and assistant director Shawnta Jenkins, former county finance director Mike Fender and his wife, Caroline, were all charged in connection with the case. Those cases have not yet gone to trial. 

Around March this year, citizens requested the Camden grand jury examine theft and misuse of taxpayer monies following the arrests. 

The grand jury asked Camden’s legislative delegation — State Rep. Steven Sainz (District 180), Rep. John Corbett (District 174) and Sen. William Ligon (District 3) — to present the legislation to prevent further abuse of money and funding. 

The PSA board already made some of these changes through new bylaws and policies approved after the arrests. However, the ballot referendum would make them a permanent part of the state legislation that created the PSA. 

During the 2019 session of the state legislature, Camden’s legislative delegation presented HB 681, which passed in the house and senate. The next required action is for voters to approve or reject the bill in a local referendum.

Ballot and explanation

Amendments to the previous enabling legislation include ensuring an annual independent certified audit and examination of the authority’s previous fiscal year financial records and transactions.

The amendment also expands the authority to nine members:

• city-elected official or appointee (St. Marys, Kingsland, Woodbine)

• county-elected official or appointee

• one appointed resident from each city (three-year term limit)

• two appointed residents from the county (three-year term limit)

The members of the authority shall elect one of their members to fill the roles of chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary and treasurer. (The secretary and treasurer do not need to be an authority member.”)

The ballot will read: “Shall the Act be approved which amends the Act creating the Camden County Public Service Authority?”

Voters will have two options:

• Yes — reorganize the PSA board, require audits and codifies the Georgia law versus local bylaws that can be amended by the PSA board

• No — keep the PSA the same.

The full HB 681 text is available at: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-us/display/20192020/hb/681.

Vote early

Early voting for the Nov. 5 election is open at the Board of Elections office on the first floor of the county government complex in Woodbine through Friday, Oct. 25.

A second early voting site will only be open Monday, Oct. 28, through Friday, Nov. 1, at the county annex, 107 N. Gross in Kingsland.

Both sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. All registered Camden voters, regardless of polling place, can vote at either site during early voting.

There will be no Saturday voting and residents can only vote at their assigned polling place on Nov. 5. Voters can check their information and status at mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Tribune & Georgian

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St. Marys, GA 31558

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