Former Madison County clerk Morris Fortson is receiving unemployment benefits from the Georgia Department of Labor, but the county government is contesting that claim.
“He applied and benefits were initially awarded, as is usually the case,” wrote county attorney Mike Pruett in an emailed response to a Journal inquiry on the matter. “An appeal has been filed, but no hearing date set as of yet.”
Meanwhile, Fortson is contesting his dismissal as county clerk by the county commissioners.
Pruett said a hearing before the personnel hearing officer in the case, Athens attorney Michael Daniel, is set for 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 3, in Daniel’s office.
Madison County commissioners suspended Fortson with pay Nov. 18, with his dismissal taking effect Jan. 6. The BOC cited several reasons for his termination, saying he made errors in budgeting projected revenue, failed to handle a claim for unemployment benefits correctly, failed to implement auditor’s recommendations, committed accounting errors and failed to keep the BOC informed on significant issues.
Fortson and his attorney, Joyce Kitchens, met with the BOC Dec. 25, with the lawyer responding to the commissioners’ charges.
Kitchens noted that Fortson worked for the county for 24 years, 11 as county clerk. She said that he proved himself as a dependable county employee, that he took a pay cut to take the job of county clerk and that he is dedicated to helping the citizens of Madison County. She said that when the BOC office was short-staffed, he did the work of three people.
“You know what kind of man he is,” Kitchens told the commissioners. “You know his character. You know if he works hard. You know those things about him.”
The BOC voted 4-0 that day to uphold the termination.