DeKalb Ethics Board Must Submit Spending Plan

Jul 31, 2014

Attorney John Ernst chairs the DeKalb County Board of Ethics.
Credit John Ernst

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners is holding in reserve the $97,000 it recently allocated to the county Board of Ethics.

Commissioners are waiting on the Ethics Board to present a plan on how to spend that money.

Interim CEO Lee May pushed the allocation based on his plan on hiring a full-time Chief Integrity Officer, a full-time investigator and a full-time administrative assistant.

However, not everyone agrees with that plan, including Commissioner Jeff Rader, who said Wednesday, “We’re going too far by funding particular positions with particular responsibilities.”

John Ernst chairs the Ethics Board, and he also seems reluctant to accept May’s plan wholesale. “We do not want to get in a situation in which we are building the plane while we fly it,” said Ernst. “It might be a little bit different than exactly what was proposed by the interim CEO, but the in the end, the goals that he had laid out will be accomplished.”

Ernst says he wants to make sure the office functions well for the long-term not just now when the board is addressing more than 20 ethics complaints including complaints against every single county commissioner.

Interim CEO Lee May says he was able to sell the Board of Commissioners on the funding allocation based on his staffing plan.

But what if ethics board members have something else in mind? “Well, absolutely, I’m willing to listen to them,” said May. “And I think if they want to use it differently, we will definitely talk. I’m definitely open to talk with them about that.”

It appears unlikely that conversation will come anytime soon. The Ethics Board has not yet set a date to discuss how to spend the money even though the money is allocated to spend through the end of this year.