Following a potential conflict with a federal housing grant, the Hall County Board of Commissioners discussed how to handle county employees serving on the boards of county-funded agencies.
Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton told the commission at its work session Monday that there are many county staff members who serve on the boards of the 16 agencies that receive county funding, including commissioners.
Agencies include the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Edmondson- Telford Center.
“In all cases they’re providing some service to the government that can be effectively, efficiently done by a private, not-for-profit organization,” Sutton said. “How would you condone them acting on your behalf without you having representatives on their boards?”
Sutton said some boards have volunteer board members, while others are appointed by the commission.
Commissioner Ashley Bell and Sutton agreed that the best way to avoid a perception of a conflict of interest is to formally appoint all board members.
“It has been informal in the past,” Sutton said. “To formalize that would be a great idea.”
This issue of county employees serving on volunteer boards arose after the commission questioned whether it is a conflict of interest for the county’s grant manager to serve on the board of Home Development Resources Inc., which writes and administers housing grants for the county.
Unlike most other housing grants, the $2.3 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grant required a competitive bidding process to administer the grant.
The commission became concerned that in the future, having the county’s grant manager on the board of one of the agencies applying to administer a grant could appear as a conflict of interest and jeopardize federal housing monies.