As questions surround Grovetown rodeo funding, mayor responds

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 11:30 PM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re learning more about a taxpayer-funded rodeo in Grovetown, and questions about why and how the money was approved.

Councilwoman Cerretta Smith and Deborah Fisher are wanting to open an investigation into the rodeo in Grovetown. One of Smith’s concerns was how meetings were handled.

“There had been three or four meetings that had taken place about the rodeo. I did not know about these meetings. I was not invited to these meetings,” she said.

We spoke with the city administrator who says meetings aren’t always necessary for events costing less than $50,000. We filed an open records request to find out how much the event cost.

The city showed receipts totaling 31,000, but council members say that does not include employee man-hours.

“The man-hours that were put in for this rodeo was 730 and that the double-overtime was $34,254. 95,” said Smith.

Mayor Gary Jones said: “We do not include overtime and wages in the event line code. We never have.”

With the dollar signs adding up, some taxpayers have concerns, too.

Alexa Martinelli said: “I feel like if you’re going to spend $60,000 on a rodeo, why not have a public forum to see if we’re in favor of this, to begin with.”

The mayor says the money raised through the event went to local charities. We found American Hero Pro Rodeo is registered as a nonprofit out of Waynesboro.

Jones said: “It helped veterans with PTSD and children with special needs, and it raised...every fine that was raised went to this charity.”

Others say they’re fine with the cause but still have concerns over how the event was handled.

Antoinette Clark said: “I do appreciate the effort. However, after listening tonight, if the way it transpired is the truth, I don’t think that is fair and equitable.”

This rodeo might not be his last. Jones was considering hanging up his hat but now says this whole situation is making him consider a run for re-election in 2024. As for the investigation, the mayor says he is fine with an investigation because he says he did nothing wrong.

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