Shannon Whitfield, Walker County's new commissioner, is promising to be "completely transparent" when it comes to possible conflicts of interest regarding Whitfield Oil Co.
"I have addressed many times about ... Whitfield Oil Company selling gasoline and diesel fuel to Walker County," he said. "It is very simple ... I do not own Whitfield Oil Company. My father, Stanley Whitfield, owns 100 percent of that company."
Whitfield said bids and invoices will be available for public review on the county's website.
"We will set up a separate tab (section on the website) so citizens will be able to see the ... bids that were received, the time and date stamp they came in, and a copy of the invoice of who got the bid and verify the pricing," Whitfield said. "So it would be completely transparent."
Whitfield said he would not be the one deciding which bid to accept. "I will have a purchasing person that will be charged to make that decision and have the documentation to support their decision of which vendor they chose."
His focus, he said, is that the county receives the lowest costs of goods possible. The lowest bidder will be chosen, he said.
Whitfield said details of proposed bids would not be released to the other companies.
"We will give them a date and a time each week to turn the bids in, because the county makes a purchase on a weekly basis. So we will set up a time and date that those bids will have to be emailed in and then they will be notified of who was successful in the bid process," he said.
The commissioner pointed out Whitfield Oil's sale of gasoline and fuel to the county has been "a very small percentage" of the company's business.
"Less than one percent of the gross profit that we were making was coming from the county," Whitfield said.
"What we intend to do, from the county's standpoint, is the person in charge of getting those bids for gasoline and fuel, they will take and get three to four bids for those loads of gas and fuel and whoever has the lowest bid will be awarded the purchase. If that is Whitfield Oil Company, that's fine. If it's another company, that's fine as well.
"I know there has been some question or speculation in that 'Whitfield Oil Company is going to try to get rich off of the county,' and that is far from reality," he said. "Gasoline and fuel is very much a commodity product and all distributors work on an extremely low margin and it is not anything that is a significant influence or impact on Whitfield Oil Company either way."
Whitfield said the county provides health, dental, and vision benefits to 400 employees.
"I will continue utilizing BB&T Huffaker of Chattanooga as the agent of record for the dental, vision, and medical benefits for Walker County employees," he said.
The dental, vision and medical insurance for 2017 was renewed on Jan. 1 with BB&T Huffaker, Whitfield said.
Property and causality insurance will continue with Flegal Insurance in Rossville. It was renewed in November. "We will continue that relationship also," Whitfield said.
New human resources director
Whitfield has hired Charlene Robinson of Rossville as the new human resources director. Her first day was Jan. 1.
Robinson has more than 30 years experience in human resources management and recently worked for a company with more than 500 employees, Whitfield said.
"She brings a high level of knowledge and experience to this position and it's going to help us get things to the next level and in good order," he said.
"She will be working to get our HR compliance to the highest level possible. We are working to develop an employee policy guide and also job descriptions for every position," he said. "There is a lot of missing policy and procedure that we are finding and so Charlene is working to fill in those gaps and to come in very shortly with a comprehensive employee policy manual."
Whitfield to have a public relations director on board by Jan. 19, Whitfield said.
Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at email@example.com.