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Newton County Recreation Director Ternard Turner speaks at the ribbon cutting for the new B.C. Crowell Cardio Fitness Studio at Turner Lake held in June.

COVINGTON — Senior staff members of the Newton County Recreation Department who received one-time bonus payments in December will be instructed to return the funds to the county.

Newton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Marcello Banes said he planned to meet with the Recreation Commission Monday evening to inform members that the bonuses will have to be repaid. Banes said the payments are not legal under the state’s gratuities clause, which states that the General Assembly shall not grant or authorize extra compensation to any public officer, agent, or contractor after the service has been rendered or the contract entered into. The clause is applied by extension to local governments, authorities and agencies.

The bonuses totaled more than $28,500, with each employee receiving 8 percent of their annual compensation, as follows: Executive Director Ternard Turner, $6,166; Assistant Director Dwayne Mask, $5,120; Athletic Manager Horace Stroud, $4,171; Finance Manager Greg Sullivan, $4,298; Recreation Administrator Matt Taylor, $4,373; and Recreation Administrator Kale Curtis, $4,373.

According to documents obtained from the county through an Open Records Act request, the bonuses were “based on employee performance and the availability of funds through salary savings.”

The bonuses were unanimously approved by the Recreation Commission board at a Thursday, Dec. 12, special called meeting. The bonuses were apparently paid in addition to the $300 each county employee received at the holidays.

Banes said he was “disappointed” that, in his opinion, a department director had structured a plan in order to get a raise.

Recreation Director Tenard Turner has been with Rec Department just over a year. He was hired in December 2018 after serving as division manager of Parks and Recreation for the city of South Fulton. Turner earns an annual salry of slightly more than $76,000.

Check back for updates on this story as they develop.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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