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Athens-Clarke Commission Fires Auditor

The Athens-Clarke Commission opted not to reappoint longtime Auditor John Wolfe for another two years at its voting meeting Tuesday.

A majority of commissioners indicated they would not vote to reappoint Wolfe after his recent biennial perfomance review, Mayor Nancy Denson said.

“The majority of commissioners primarily lost confidence in him,” she said. “I don’t think I can comment beyond that.”

Wolfe is one of four high-ranking county officials who report directly to the commission, not Manager Alan Reddish. The others are Reddish, Municipal Court Judge Leslie Spornberger Jones and Attorney Bill Berryman. They work on two-year contracts the commission votes on every other June.

As auditor, the commission assigns Wolfe to examine various county departments to see if they can save money or operate more efficiently.

Most recently, he audited the Athens Downtown Development Authority. Some commissioners and ADDA board members were unhappy with that audit because, while the ADDA was pushing outgoing Executive Director Kathryn Lookofsky to clean up downtown, Wolfe absolved the ADDA of responsibility and put the blame for perceived odor and trash issues squarely on the commission for not properly funding the Solid Waste Department.

Wolfe’s contract expires at the end of June. One of his office’s two employees, Laura Welch, has already transferred to another department, Denson said. The other, Tommy Houseman, will be reassigned at the end of June, she said.

The position will take “a month or two” to fill, Denson said. “One thing I want us to concentrate on is what we’re going to require of the next auditor,” she said.

She and commissioners will discuss what they want from the position at a retreat tentatively scheduled for later this month, including the length of time it takes to turn in reports, the hours the auditor works and whether the auditor should bring up issues he wants to pursue.

Wolfe has not returned a call seeking comment.