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Board majority said Horton violated trust

Haywood County Manager Jack Horton was dismissed from his post in early January by a 3 to 2 vote of county commissioners.

Horton’s dismissal stemmed from a dispute over a business incubator building run by a non-profit economic development group. Commissioners supported a proposal to transfer the poorly managed business incubator to the county.

When commissioners discussed the proposal at a county board meeting, Horton failed to mention he was a member of the group and would be voting on the proposal later that same day. Horton then voted against the proposal. The majority of commissioners said Horton misled them and acted against the best interests of the county.

It was not the first time Horton had been less than candid with the board of commissioners, according to commissioners Mark Swanger, Mary Ann Enloe and Kevin Ensley, who voted for Horton’s resignation.

When commissioners wanted to provide small grants for flooded businesses following the floods of 2004, Horton told them the county’s reserves were dangerously low and questioned whether the county could afford it, when in fact there was plenty of money in the reserves.

On another occasion, the commissioners aid, Horton concealed cost overruns associated with the construction of a new jail. Another time, Horton did not tell commissioners about an accounting error that led to too much money being appropriated to the Haywood County Baptist Children’s Home. Horton told the organization they did not have to repay the county funds, but failed to tell the commissioners about the incident.

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And recently, when skepticism surfaced over the Council on Aging’s financial status, Horton told commissioners the non-profit’s audit was fine when in fact it had not been audited in two years.

Commissioners Kirk Kirkpatrick and Larry Ammons, who voted against accepting Horton’s resignation, did not believe Horton’s actions warranted his departure from the job he held for 15 years.

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