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Fulton Development Authority suspends controversial per diem payments amid legal questions

Michel “Marty” Turpeau, board chair and interim executive director of the Development Authority of Fulton County.

The Development of Authority of Fulton County is suspending its controversial “per diem” payments to board members amid questions about their legality.

The DAFC is in the midst of a scandal over hundreds of thousands of dollars in per diem payments made to some of the volunteer board members for work as basic as signing documents, which forced former chairman Bob Shaw to leave the board. That scandal deepened June 15 as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed even larger per-diem payouts and questions from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners about the legality of even the newly reformed payment system.

Michel “Marty” Turpeau, board chair and interim executive director of the Development Authority of Fulton County.

In November, the DAFC under new board chair Michel “Marty” Turpeau capped the amount of the payments, and earlier this week announced further reforms, including more detailed reporting and accounting of per-diems. But some county commissioners have questioned the fundamental legality of the per diem system and whether it was ever approved by the BOC. The BOC this week tabled an item about reforming it.

“Up until now, the DAFC has been operating under the assumption that our per diem was approved by a previous Board of Commissioners,” said Turpeau — who is also DAFC’s interim executive director — in a written statement. “We understand the current Board of Commissioners is in the process of trying to determine past per diem approvals. None of our current DAFC board members were on the board or in leadership positions when these per diem decisions were previously made by the Board of Commissioners.

“Keeping that in mind, along with the fact the DAFC per diem agenda item was tabled, DAFC will suspend all per diem payments until the Board of Commissioners makes a determination about per diem[s] moving forward,” said Turpeau.

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