Fulton tax chief also gets farm aid

Fulton County’s tax collector has been receiving federal farm aid – yet another way the state’s top-paid elected officeholder has tapped public funds for personal benefit.

Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand has taken in tens of thousands of dollars to make improvements to “Chaguanas Farm,” a cattle operation he owns in rural south Fulton, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

Since 2005, the state’s conservation office has allotted Ferdinand almost $35,000 in Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds. Some conservationists were shocked he has been a recipient.

“I would prefer to tighten these things up so that farmers of need get them,” said Alan Toney, the elected chairman of the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District, a citizen oversight committee.

Ferdinand, who by charging personal fees for tax collections earns upwards of $380,000 per year, did not respond to messages seeking information about his farm or the subsidies. In a brief telephone interview, his wife Betty, who co-owns the farm, advised staying away from “things you don’t understand.”