Just months before First National Bancorp's chairman and chief execu- tive Richard A. McNeece announced his resignation, he turned down an $87,188 compensation award from the Gainesville, Ga.-based company.

Mr. McNeece refused the bonus primarily because of the decline in revenue of the mortgage division of the bank, according to the company's proxy statement.

Peter Miller, president and chief financial officer of First National, also turned down his bonus under the company's incentive compensation plan. Mr. Miller was eligible to receive $42,212.

The executives could not be reached for comment.

Mr. McNeece, who had received a $117,705 bonus in 1993, told the bank'scompensation committee that several of the company's affiliate banks performed "extremely well" in 1994 and that those executive officers should receive bonuses, the proxy said.

The decision by Mr. McNeece and Mr. Miller resulted in the company's hitting a trigger point that allowed the other officers to receive their bonuses, said Ronda S. Rich, the bank's director of corporate communications.

Mr. McNeece did accept a $30,000 raise in 1994, bringing his annual salary to $366,300.

Surprising many observers and even some of the company's directors, Mr. McNeece announced a month ago that he would step down from the bank, where he had served for eight years, on June 30. He said he had lost shareholder support and as a result could not be as effective as he wished.

The fact that Mr. McNeece was eligible for the award indicates that he had met the board's criteria in certain performance areas. Earnings growth accounts for 60% in calculating the award, asset quality 20%, and meeting strategic objectives 20%, the proxy said.

While his raise and the bonuses show general satisfaction with Mr. McNeece's performance, the fact that his 1994 award was $30,000 less than his 1993 award may suggest the shareholder misgivings that ultimately led to his stepping down, observers said.

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