Willie Adams donates thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds each year to churches and other organizations
Albany Mayor Willie Adams continues to shun Georgia law – at least, City Attorney Nathan Davis’ interpretation of it – by donating taxpayer funds to religious, community service, sororities and fraternal and advocacy organizations.
In most cases, Adams calls the taxpayer-financed gifts “sponsorships”; in 11 others during the fiscal year ending June 30, he said the donations were contributions to golf tournaments.
According to public records reviewed this week by The Albany Journal, most of the $6,401 of Adams’ “miscellaneous expenses” in the 2009 fiscal year were donations of taxpayer money that Davis deems to be illegal. Also, Adams purchased South Georgia Wildcats season tickets with his $10,000 expense account, of which he also spent $1,483 for cellular telephone service (including $360 in a month), $191 for supplies, $105 on printing, and $1,817 on travel, including $407 for mileage reimbursements paid to Albany police Capt. Earnest Williams, Adams’ chauffeur.
Davis’ published position regarding donations by elected officials is, “It is the City of Albany’s legal opinion that appropriating general fund monies for a donation, other than as a payment for City services authorized by the City Charter, is in breach of the gratuities provision of the Georgia Constitution, Article II, Sec. 6, Paragraph 6. Therefore, any individual or group wishing to appear before the Board of City Commissioners to request City funds or to provide a service to the City in which the City would incur an expense must make application as set forth.”
Adams has regularly violated the state’s public officials’ gratuities provision of state law, as the city attorney interprets it, since his successful bid for mayor in 2004. He was re-elected in 2007 after pushing an initiative to increase his annual salary from $8,200 to $25,000.
Following are some of the dozens of Adams’ 2008-09 donations of tax funds:
* $750 – Henny Penny Film Festival
* $400 – The Remnant Foundation Inc.
* $200 – Christian Equippers Ministry
* $125 – Delta Eta Omega Chapter
* $100 – Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church
* $100 – Oasis of Albany
* $100 – Albany FOP Lodge #2
* $100 – Anointed Women of God Retreat
* $75 – Albany National Advancement for the Association of Colored People
* $75 – Blacks in Government
* $60 – Urban Missions Inc.
* $50 – A Christmas Agape
* $50 – Camo Dreams Inc.
* $40 – New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church
* $10 – Aldon Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast
Each city commissioner has $7,500 expense accounts to supplement their $15,000 salary and taxpayer-funded health insurance, Except for Ward 4’s Roger Marietta, who pays his Albany Kiwanis dues with taxpayer funds, none of the city commissioners use taxpayer funds for supporting religious, fraternal, community service or advocacy organizations. Rather, most of their expenses were on travel, with Commissioner Tommie Postell spending the most — $6,716.
When the Albany Area Arts Council submitted its annual $50,000 request to the City of Albany in 2007, Davis repeated his declaration that local government support of non-profit operations is illegal. Later in the year, City Manager Alfred Lott used Davis’ ruling to recommend that the Flint RiverQuarium not be subsidized with taxpayers’ money.
Davis ultimately changed his tune and said the Arts Council and RiverQuarium could receive municipal financial support – if the groups provide documentation that it receives municipal services in return for the funding.
Written by Kevin Hogencamp.