MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - After three hours of witness testimony and evidence review at Tuesday's hearing, the Milledgeville ethics board is continuing the probe into a complaint filed against a city council member.
Local business owner and photographer, Danielle Fields filed the complaint accusing Milledgeville city council member Phillip Joiner of misusing city funds and taking money for training and conventions he did not attend.
During the meeting at Milledgeville's Public Safety building, the city manager, local business owners and administrative assistants took the stand describing the process and procedures taken in order to receive money for city training.
The lead complainant Fields was one of the first witnesses testifying that Joiner registered for several conventions with the Georgia Municipal Association that he did not attend. She stated that this case "is not personal attack, just an attempt to better the community". She told the ethics board that this past year, she attended a conference in Atlanta and saw nearly every Milledgeville elected official but Joiner there.
During cross examination, Joiner's attorney Donald Oulsnam questioned Field's remarks stating that Joiner "never violated the city's ethics ordinance."
City Manager Barry Jarrett was called to the stand by the ethics board to testify on how money is allocated for conference trips. He told the committee that each council member is allotted $6,000 per year, some payments are reimbursed and others are made using city credit cards. During his testimony, Jarrett state that Joiner's city credit card had been cancelled due to a "questionable expenditure".
Oulsnam asked Jarrett if he ever attended a particular conference with Joiner in Savannah. During cross examination, Jarrett stated he was unsure.
The county manager of city funds, Jarett's administrative assistant, Carlee Schulte, director of Milledgeville Main Street, and Tommy Cook with Digital Bridges also took the stand before Joiner addressed the board in his defense. He denied all of Fields allegations stating he attended the classes but failed to fill out the proper paperwork in order to receive certification. He also admitted that he left some classes early, arrived to others late and didn't attend all of them in a timely manner.
"There is not good explanation as to why I dropped the ball and didn't sign the appropriate forms," he told the board, "I did attend every class."
The ethics board will hold another meeting on Monday, August 26 at 4:30 p.m. at Milledgeville City Hall. They are expected to present Tuesday's evidence and any recommendations to the mayor and city council for a decision soon.