The City of Wadley doesn’t have a very big budget. With a population of just over 2,000, the Jefferson County town, about 150 miles east of Atlanta is without a doubt small town America. Annually, the municipality spends around $3 million*, meaning elected officials are tasked with spending efficiently and minimally. But a few expenditures have citizens questioning whether or not that is actually happening.
The concerns stem from a check issued from the City of Wadley’s General Fund. The check, issued in December of 2015, relates to two asbestos inspections by a company out of Thomson, but both parcels are owned by private individuals, not the City of Wadley.
The check was issued to Dependable Home Inspections in the amount of $1,280 for asbestos evaluations on 754 N. Main Street and 137 Foster Circle. Neither of these properties are owned by the City of Wadley nor show a history of ownership by the City of Wadley according to the Jefferson County Tax Assessor. The check was signed by Mayor Harold Moore and Sallie Adams.
Moore was elected in 2013 so he was halfway into his first term when the check in question was issued. Moore declined requests to comment on the situation but Council member Izell Mack confirmed the issuance of the check. Mack also alleged that Mayor Moore’s father lived in the Foster Circle property until his death a few years ago, though the Tax Assessor’s Office does not reflect ownership by a member of the Moore family. Mack said Harold Moore Sr. could have rented the property.
The City of Wadley owns 39 different parcels and properties, according to the Jefferson County Tax Assessor’s Office, though none of them are the addresses which appear on the check. The ‘Mayor & Council of Wadley’ are also listed as owning four properties, but, again, none are the Main Street or Foster Circle properties in question.
But according to the Tax Assessor’s Office, 137 Foster Circle is not even a registered parcel. 136 Foster Circle is a registered address, which is across the street, and 135 Foster and 143 Foster are adjacent to a run down structure appears between the two. [Pictured below]
The structure above does not have an address, but sits between 135 and 143 Foster Circle. It begs the question as to why an inspection was done on the property above or on a property that does not exist.
The property on Main Street is by a former employee of the City of Wadley.
Many municipalities specifically ban the use of public funds for any improvements or work on private property by way of their organizing charter, ranging in size from that of Valdosta to smaller Alma. The Gratuities Clause in the Georgia Constitution specifically prohibits any gifts to any private entity without compensation or public benefit, an issue backed up by a state attorney general opinion in 2001.
Harold Moore is currently seeking re-election.
*The UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government shows that that City of Wadley has not reported budget information since FY 2013. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs shows 2015 as the last year for a reported budget, which was filed in February of 2017.