Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expenses Top Issue in Race in McIntosh; Candidates for County Commission Seeking to Unseat Democratic Trio

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expenses Top Issue in Race in McIntosh; Candidates for County Commission Seeking to Unseat Democratic Trio

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORRISON

Like former Darien Mayor Kelly Spratt, former councilman Joel Williams resigned from city government to pursue a seat on the McIntosh County Commission.

Republican Williams, a 62-year-old contractor, is challenging incumbent Democrat Nathaniel Grovner, a 67-year-old retired teacher and pastor, for the District 1 seat that includes the city of Darien.

Spratt, Williams and Clay Davis are seeking to unseat a trio of Democrats - Commission Chairman Boyd Gault, Charles Jordan and Grovner - and change the balance of power on the board.

The challengers have accused the three sitting commissioners of fiscal irresponsibility.

"The people of McIntosh County have a chance to vote for change," Williams said. "This is a good opportunity for them to do it. The three of us have a good opportunity to move the county forward."

Williams, like Spratt, said the current commission has engaged in wasteful spending.

"I think they need to control spending better," he said. "I still see things we can improve on."

Grovner, however, argued that the current commissioners were forced to raise taxes early on to get the county out of a financial hole dug by their predecessors, but has held steady since.

"There's no wasteful spending going on," he said. "I feel we have done an efficient job. Yes, we did have to raise taxes when we went into office because of the condition the previous board left the county in, but now we have a county manager who's overseeing that office and he's keeping our finances under control."

The county has only a couple of options remaining for reducing spending, Grovner said, furloughing workers or reducing some staff members' hours to 32 a week as the city has done.

Williams pointed out, however, the county spends money to rent office space when it has another option.

"The Youth Development Center could be used for county offices," he said. "County offices are located in three different places and we're paying rent on them. They could all be consolidated out there, and we'd save money in the long run."

The problem with that proposal is the county does not own the YDC facility, the state does. The facility has been closed for several years. …

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