County Commissioners Respond to Yates' Lawsuit
(Gadsden, AL - August 21, 2010) Etowah County Commissioners say the recent lawsuit filed by Circuit Clerk Billy Yates is welcome to relinquish his duties as Absentee Election Manager and allow "hundreds or maybe thousands of honest, hard working Etowah County Citizens" to apply for the position.
Yates is suing Etowah County taxpayers and the Etowah County Commission for $2,175 in an ongoing dispute between him and the commissioners on pay due for Absentee Election managers. The dispute has continued at least since the 2008 Election cycle, when Yates asked the county to hire a number of part time absentee election workers with county funds.
At that time, Simms encouraged Yates to "use the money you get" to pay the part time employees.
According to an interview with Yates today, he makes "approximately $130,000 annually as Circuit Clerk." Yates says he gets about $105,000 from the State and an additional $25,000 supplement from the county for his duties as Circuit Clerk. The additional duties of Absentee Election Manager earns Yates an extra $100 per day over the $500 per day he already earns from the state and county.
In a statement released by Etowah County Commission CEO Patrick Simms today, the "Commission will not waiver in its decision to defend the suit brought against it by... Billy Yates. The commission will always defend the taxpayers of this county from the unrestrained greed of public officials who try to manipulate the system for their personal gain."
Simms says the Commission is sure it is operating within the law by denying the $25 per day being requested by Yates. According to state law, Simms says, the expenses of election workers, including Absentee Election Managers, is to be "borne entirely by the state." It wasn't intended, says Simms in an interview this morning, as a windfall for public officials who are already adequately paid for their services."
In the statement, the commissioners complain that for Yates "to demand that the hard working taxpayers of Etowah County pay him an additional $25 a day, by some quirk of the law, is a disgrace, shame and a fleecing of hardworking taxpayers."
In conclusion, the commission suggests Yates could possibly help with the unemployment problem in Etowah County, "Should Mr. Yates want to relinquish that duty we are quite confident that there are literally hundreds or maybe thousands of honest hard working Etowah County Citizens that would gladly perform that service."