DALLAS, Ga. -- For 15 years, Paulding County officials have tried to get federal funding for a pricey project called the Richland Creek Reservoir, which would provide fresh water for residents. Records show that in 2010 and 2011, county officials flew to Washington to meet with members of Congress. They took with them Bill Carruth, a man now running for the state Senate. The expense is now raising questions.
"I don't think that's something that's needed, to take private citizen on trips with elected officials," said Paulding County commissioner Todd Pownall.
Before he became a candidate for the state senate, Bill Carruth was chairman of the Paulding County Board of Commissioners, a post he left at the end of 2000.
Yet more than twelve years after he left office, Paulding County administrator Mike Jones says he recruited Carruth for the trips to Washington for his political expertise. Jones says he has recruited other private citizens to do the same thing at county expense two other times.
"I think you need someone there who can explain why your particular need is greater than someone else's," Jones said. "I couldn't articulate that argument as well as Mr. Carruth could."
Records show Carruth made two trips to DC, donating his time but accepting travel and lodging at county expense.
"I think in this time we need to look at saving every penny every dime we can. I know the citizens are doing it," said Pownall. "(Current elected officials) have the knowledge needed to do what we need to do."
In a statement, Carruth said "...I was happy to help. Richland Creek Reservoir is an important project for Paulding County..."
The project remains unfunded.