CANTON — The Cherokee County Resource Recovery Development Authority on Tuesday will welcome two new members to replace the remaining county commissioners sitting on the board.
New RRDA members John Konop and Robert Morrison, who were elected last week by the Board of Commissioners, are set to attend their first meeting Tuesday afternoon and officially replace Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Commissioner Harry Johnston.
Originally populated by the five members of the Board of Commissioners, the RRDA was created in 2006 to guarantee debt on $18 million in bonds to relocate Jimmy Bobo’s Ball Ground Recycling operation from Blalock Road to Highway 5. Since Bobo filed for bankruptcy in 2012, Cherokee County has been stuck with the bill for $100,000 in monthly lease payments on the facility, and officials have been searching for a way out of the situation.
Johnston said he is hopeful that the new members of the RRDA will help the county move toward a solution to the problem.
“I think they’ll be good additions and will effectively round out this all-citizen board,” he said.
Both Konop and Morrison are financial professionals and were chosen by Ahrens, Johnston said.
“We were all looking for candidates,” Johnston said. “I had a few people in mind, but they all declined.”
But Johnston said he can understand hesitancy to join the controversial board.
“It’s a bit of a hot-button issue, and there’s not a lot of upside to being involved in it,” he said. “It’s really purely a public service at this point, and I appreciate these two well-qualified people being willing to serve in that capacity.”
Ahrens said Wednesday that while the Board of Commissioner had previously planned to have the RRDA only populated by residents in July, enough names and willing participants weren’t available.
“We had asked for recommendations, and we didn’t get many,” he said, although the task was still the responsibility of the commissioners.
Konop said Wednesday he’s willing to see past the controversy and work for a solution.
“In business, you can’t cry over spilled milk,” Konop said. “You’ve got to go figure out how to fix the problem.”
He has, however, been critical of the RRDA’s dealings with Ball Ground Recycling in the past and has mentioned the situation in letters to the editor printed in the Cherokee Tribune.
“Even with my criticism as to the situation,” Konop said, “I’ve always been about ‘let’s just find a solution.’”
But he won’t come into his first meeting Tuesday suggesting solutions.
“I first have to have a clear understanding of where everything is at,” Konop said. “For me to suggest anything at this point in terms of a resolution without first gathering all the facts would be very reckless.”
Morrison said Wednesday he is also still learning about the RRDA’s dealings with Bobo.
“I don’t know a whole lot about that, that hasn’t been already written about in the paper,” said Morrison, who was also elected as Vice Chairman of the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority’s board Monday.
But he said he is willing to learn and hopes his professional experience in advising government entities with bond transactions will help the RRDA.
“From a background standpoint, I’ve got a certain amount of knowledge on these kind of things,” Morrison said.
Ahrens said Wednesday that he hoped Morrison and Konop, who also has an extensive background in finance, will help the county.
As its other recent meetings have been, Tuesday’s meeting of the RRDA will be a joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners.
But Johnston said now that the RRDA is fully populated by non-commissioners, the two boards can decide whether to continue meeting together or not.
“That will be determined by the two boards,” he said. “What I would anticipate is we would continue to meet jointly. Because most any action we take will require approval of both the RRDA and the BoC, it makes a lot of sense to continue to meet jointly.”
Joint meetings of the RRDA and Board of Commissioners were also suggested by the January 2013 Cherokee grand jury, which investigated the Ball Ground Recycling deal.