UPDATE 5:31 p.m.: At 5:04 p.m., just as this story went to press, Clayton County produced responsive records to The Clayton County’s ORR for Warner and Collier’s travel expenses. We are working to bring you that updated information.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to hire former Clayton County Chief Financial Officer Ramona Bivins as their new CFO. She starts work in Douglas County on Monday, July 25.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to come and work with Douglas County and help you guys move forward,” Bivins told the board:
Bivins was let go from Clayton County amid a nasty political battle royal, which has intensified since her departure, between backers of Sheriff Victor Hill and BOC Chairman Jeff Turner. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is tracking down “threats” against Turner, while Franklin, Anderson, and Hambrick have been assigned CCSO deputies to escort them to and from commission chambers:
On June 7, Clayton County’s BOC voted 3-2 not to renew Bivins’ annual contract, then terminated her current contract and gave her less than 48 hours to clear out her office and turn in any county property. However, Commissioners Alieka Anderson, Felicia Franklin, and Gail Hambrick remain silent on what prompted them to dismiss Bivins, as well as on whether she had had any issues with job performance. The board later voted to launch an outside investigation into Chairman Jeff Turner’s approving tuition payments for Bivins’ Ph.D. studies at Vanderbilt University and stripped Turner of his power to sign off on contracts without board approval. Bivins’ contract with Clayton County contained a clause that the county would pay for continuing education.
On June 21, the board voted instead to conduct an internal investigation.
Several months earlier, Franklin had filed a report with Jonesboro Police alleging Bivins had “pointed her fingers” at Franklin as the two discussed a travel reimbursement that Franklin wanted. According to a statement Bivins filed with JPD, Bivins had told Franklin to follow established procedure by booking travel through a county employee, rather than charging travel expenses to a personal account and seeking reimbursement later.
On Friday, July 15, The Clayton Crescent filed an Open Records Request for Franklin’s travel records and reimbursements, specifically “all travel reimbursement requests, along with county-booked or non-county-booked reservation forms, plane tickets, car rentals, fuel receipts, county fuel records, itemized hotel bills, meals, beverages, conference registrations, invoices, credit card receipts, county accounts payable records, county accounts receivable records, and cancelled checks, for travel for Felicia Franklin (-Warner) and [assistant] Kayla Collier, from 1/1/2020 through July 15, 2022” and “County policy on use of personal credit cards for county travel/business.”
On Wednesday, July 20, a county official promised to release the records by noon, then by the end of business, pending any legal review. As of press time, those open records had not yet been produced. However, several records released in response to this request crossed about the same time. An update is forthcoming.
Bivins was in charge of both the Finance Department and Internal Audits. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada listed her responsibilities as “accounting, budgets, accounts payable, accounts receivable, pension fund, grants, and treasury management units” in the Finance Officer. As CEO, Bivins “provide[d] leadership in the development and the continuous evaluation of short and long-term strategic objectives for the Finance Department, including providing analysis of budgets, financial trends, and forecasts to the Chairman and the Board of Commissioners regarding the financial future of Clayton County.” Bivins also served as secretary of the Clayton County Public Employees’ Pension Board.
Before coming to Clayton County, she was Budget Director and Interim Chief Financial Officer for the Clayton County Board of Education, Director of Budget for the Atlanta Public Schools System, and worked for the State of Georgia, as well as school systems in Texas and Tennessee.