(AUGUSTA,GA) The Bethlehem Community Center is still waiting for its 20 thousand dollar grant from Augusta, but with a 100 year old building the maintenance man will tell you there are plenty of needs here.
“This money is very important to the Bethlehem center and the community we need a lot of improvements especially with the old building there,” said Henry Elam.
Commissions approved money for Bethlehem and three other nonprofits two weeks ago on a divided vote
A total of 80 thousand dollars with the city administrator saying two of the organization didn’t even request the funds.
“We didn’t ask for any audits to see if they even need it like you say some didn’t even ask for it, it sets a bad precedent to give away out money like that like were fat cats,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Grady Smith.
The Gratuities Clause of the Georgia constitution says the General Assembly doesn’t have the power to grant any donations or gratuities and this applies to cities and counties.
So did the commission donations violate the constitution?
“I think it did I think we need to look into it for now and for the future,” said The Mayor Pro-Tem.
Six commissioners who took an oath to uphold the state constitution approved the grants have a different opinion.
“I don’t see what the problem is,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
“You don’t see it violate?”
“I don’t, I don’t we have an attorney who will issue us a ruling,” said Fennoy.
“Do you question it do you think it was done legally?
“It was done legally we have a legal representative if anything was illegal about it we should have been told there’s nothing,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.
The mayor Pro-Tem says he’s not a lawyer but says the law department needs to determine whether the grants violate the state gratuities law, I’m still waiting on a response to an e-mail I sent to the law department about the donations and the state constitution.