MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
REGULAR MEETING HELD ON NOVEMBER 11, 2003
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Chairman J. R. Dowdy, Jr., with Commissioners James D. Harris, A. James Nance, Joyce C. Pheil, and Ferrell Henry in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Gene Crapse, County Attorney Guy D. Pfeiffer, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and secretary Linda Finch. Mr. Henry introduced Rev. Tommy Mason, Pastor of First United Methodist Church, and Rev. Mason gave the invocation. Administrator Crapse asked that all the veterans in the room raise their hands, and stated that this is Veterans Day, a special day, and we would like to take a moment to recognize the sacrifices that all Veterans made, thank all Veterans for their service to our country and freedom, and the he asked for a moment of silence.
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the minutes of the meeting of October 14, 2003, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
DECISION - SPECIAL USE PERMIT - LOVE STUFF, LLC
Connie Sangster, Assistant Planning Director, reported that we had the Public Hearing last month for the Special Use Permit regarding Love Stuff, LLC, Commissioners deferred the decision until they got further information on the survey; she has the survey, and her interpretation is that it does not meet the regulations, as it needs to be 300 feet from the next lot zoned Rural Residential, it is only 157.17 from one and the other one is 271.06, so it does not meet the 300 feet’s location regulations. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to deny the Special Use Permit based on the findings about the inadequate distance, seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried with Mr. Harris abstaining.
CORDELE ANNEXATION REQUEST APPROVED
Administrator Crapse stated he has a request from the City of Cordele for annexation of property into the corporate city limits, basically they have looked at it, and the county has no objection to the proposed annexation. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to accept the recommendation of the Administrator and approve the annexation request from the City of Cordele, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously. Mr. Crapse will write letter advising that the county has no objection and send to the City of Cordele.
CRISP AREA MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATION COMMENTS
Antwone Yowe spoke on behalf of the Crisp Area Ministerial Association, and thanked the Commission, Planning Department as well as our employees throughout the county for a job well done, he stated that the Ministerial Association is noticing the steps and the different things the Commission is doing, we commend the Board especially commend Mrs. Pheil for her work during her time of sickness. They just want to let the Commission, as well as the county, know that they appreciate the hard work the Commission is doing. He stated that because of what just happened, that cuts his speech short.
PRE-DISASTER MITIGATION PLAN PRESENTATION
Gerald Mixon, from Middle Flint Regional Development Center, and Sheriff Donnie Haralson met with Commissioners to discuss the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan. Sheriff Haralson stated that they have been working with all the local area governments, private sectors, and public health officials on this Plan, it has been almost a year since we applied for the grant of about $28,000.00, and contracted with Middle Flint to administer the grant. He said that we are better prepared than we were a few years ago, we certainly have to keep working, we feel that planning is important, and it is rather detailed, but they are satisfied with it. Mr. Mixon had a map presentation that they had prepared, which shows the road network, railroads, plus more than 200 critical facilities that the committees have come up with including government buildings, industries, medical facilities, public shelters, fire departments, communications, and flight paths of planes coming in and going out thoughout the county. He said they have added things that hopefully will make the document usable on a daily basis rather than wait until a disaster would occur and try to get some benefit from it, and they will plug in tax values at a later date, which will help in determining some assessment of loss to the community in case of a disaster. Mr. Henry expressed that he appreciates the hard work that Mr. Mixon, Sheriff Haralson, and the others in that group did as there was an awful lot of work that had to be done. Mr. Nance confirmed that this was a good presentation and will be useful information. Sheriff Haralson advised that this is the Plan that will be presented to GEMA, and we are one of the first in the state, and especially south Georgia, to have this Plan in place. Mr. Mixon stated that Commissioners have before them the Plan that has the Goals and Objectives identified and specific tasks and action plans, with the four goals being: 1) Protect the public health and safety; 2) Reduce, and to the extent possible eliminate, community exposure to natural hazard events; 3) Reduce loss and damage to private property and public infrastructure resulting from natural hazard; 4) Respond promptly, appropriately and efficiently in the event of a natural hazard. He advised that if a disaster were to occur in the county again, to get any federal financial assistance, you will have to have this Plan adopted. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to authorize submission of the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan Draft Document to GEMA for review, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
DCUTS AGREEMENT APPROVED
Administrator Crapse reported that there is no substantial change to the Agreement with DCUTS except DCUTS has requested that the Agreement run from November 11th thru June 30th to coincide with our fiscal year and then it will be updated annually. Steven Dorough, Operator of DCUTS, stated that today is their first anniversary in Crisp County and during that time with the three transit vans, they have traveled more than 80,000 miles, provided approximately 28,500 trips to citizens in the county, they have eight employees, they have directly had an economic impact of $240,000, and they estimate that they have recirculated $1.7 to $2 million in the local economy. He thanked the Commissioners for giving them the opportunity to be here. He advised that this is basically the same document as last year, they are just asking to change the date to correspond to the end of the fiscal year, and it was originally set up on this date because it was the starting date of the operation. Mrs. Pheil stated that a lot of counties are envious of DCUTS in Crisp and Dooly Counties, and Steven is fast becoming the expert in transportation, and thanked him for the job he does. Mr. Dorough said the numbers indicate that they may need more vans next year, but right now they are going to hold on until spring and look at it again; he stated that they have scheduled trips that go to Americus and Warner Robins on a daily basis now, and in the spring he is looking at maybe dedicating a van that can provide out of county services on a regular basis. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adopt the Third Party Operator Agreement between DCUTS and Crisp County, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION RESOLUTION APPROVED
Administrator Crapse reported that this is done every ten years based on the census from the Federal Highway Administration, it is participated in by the City and the County, and each will submit maps as they find changes. He stated that the changes the DOT made were good for the county, he thinks the City wants to make some changes on the map that was submitted for them, and if they increase the size of urban areas, which they have annexed, that provides additional money for the urban areas so that is to the benefit of the County. He stated that when the Federal Highway Administration gets those, if they choose to make those changes, they will forward an Amended Agreement for the County to sign, and he recommends that the county sign the Resolution and forward the map as presented by the DOT. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil authorizing the Chairman to sign the Federal Highway Administration Resolution and send back to DOT, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
REPLACE ENGINE IN FIRE TRUCK
Administrator Crapse advised that this is an unbudgeted M & O expense for an engine in a fire truck, and because it was not an immediate emergency and the expense is unbudgeted, it is coming before the Board for approval. He advised that at present the station is being covered by a reserve vehicle, and the only long term solution to this is to replace the engine in the truck and put it back into service. He advised that the funds will be coming internally from the Fire Department, partially from monies allocated to vehicle repair, vehicle parts, and equipment rentals, and the cost of the engine is $11,543.45, which is essentially the low bid as they had one bid that was about $.65 lower, but it is not a Caterpillar Dealer. He advised that this bid is from a Caterpillar Dealer and it will come with a warranty, and he recommends the Board authorize the repair of this vehicle. Fire Chief Ray Lunsford stated that he does have the truck out of service at this time because of the liability, the truck has about 70,000 miles and is about eleven years old, and it is better to replace the engine instead of the truck. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to replace the engine in the fire truck at an amount of $11,543.45, seconded by Mrs. Pheil and motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE SOUTH GEORGIA TECHNICAL COLLEGE DONATION
Chairman Dowdy reported that any money that South Georgia Technical College could raise by a certain date, the state would match it dollar for dollar, we felt the $5,000.00 donation would not be out of line, he has talked with the Commissioners and they thought it was a good idea. Administrator Crapse stated it was unbudgeted but was an important investment in the Community. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to make the $5,000.00 donation to South Georgia Technical College, seconded by Mrs. Pheil and motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE REQUEST
Administrator Crapse reported that this is in response to the Base Realignment and Closure Committee, their objective is to close 100 bases in 2005 and anticipated that the State of Georgia will lose at least three military bases, Southwest Georgia Alliance for Progress has organized an effort to support the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, and try to preserve its entity as well as expand its mission. He stated that the impact of the base is $217 million annually in direct payrolls, to Crisp County that is more than $2 million that comes directly here, the Committee has asked for a total funding of $600,000.00, $500,000.00 will come from Dougherty County, and they have asked that Crisp County provide $2,000.00 for this effort. He advised that the Chamber of Commerce has asked ten organizations to contribute $200.00 each toward this effort, the Power Commission has committed $200.00 toward this, and he asked Commissioners to commit $200.00 on behalf of the Commissioners toward this important project. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve $200.00 contribution to Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, seconded by Mrs. Pheil and motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE EMPLOYEE CHRISTMAS BONUS
Administrator Crapse reported that it has been brought to his attention that it is time for the Commission to consider authorizing a Christmas Bonus for county employees, previous bonuses’ have been in the amount equal to one week’s pay, it is included in the current budget, and it is usual that this is approved before the Thanksgiving holiday, and he recommends the Board approve the bonus and authorize its payment on November 26, preceding the Thanksgiving holiday. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to approve one week’s pay as a Christmas bonus to county employees, seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE EMS AMBULANCE
Administrator Crapse reported that this request is for an ambulance for the EMS Department, it is approved and budgeted as a SPLOST item in the EMS funds. He advised that a number of bids were taken, the lowest bid was from Peach State Ambulance for approximately $62,824.00, the money will be put on the Wachovia Lease Purchase, and this will probably be a 2003 vehicle that should already be on the lot, but if they are out of 2003 chassis and have to go to a 2004, it will probably be about $1,500.00 more, and he recommends approval of this bid. David Edwards, EMS Director, stated that at the end of the year, they are making some changes in the 2004 models and are not sure they are available, but the sales representative assures him they will have some 2003's left, and they are brand new vehicles. He stated that the vehicle they will retire has about 150,000 miles on it and is about ten years old. He has had a request from the Sheriff for the old vehicle, it would be ideal for his purposes, but that would be up to the Commissioners to decide what they want to do with the old vehicle. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to approve the purchase of an ambulance in the approximate amount of $62.824.00 coming out of SPLOST funds, and let the Sheriff and Administrator work out what we need to do with the old vehicle, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE FIRE DEPARTMENT RADIO EQUIPMENT
Administrator Crapse reported that this request is for radio equipment for the 800-megahertz upgrade for the Fire Department, it is items of equipment that were budgeted as a SPLOST item in the Fire Department funds, and it is sort of a purchase of an initial set of equipment that will be added to, and he would recommend approval in the amount of $7,065.20. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to purchase the radio equipment for the Fire Department coming out of SPLOST funds in the amount of $7,065.20, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
ALLOW ADMINISTRATOR TO APPROVE NORMAL SPLOST REQUESTS
Administrator Crapse stated that both of these last purchases were authorized purchases that were approved in the SPLOST budget, money is available for both requests, which is often the case, and he was going to approve these things based on that, his contract authorizes him to do this, but he heard that regardless, all of the SPLOST requests come before the board anyway. He stated that if the Board wants to do that, it is fine, but as long as we handle these things in the normal course of business, they are approved in SPLOST and expenditure has been approved, and the money is available, he would propose that he could handle this as a matter of routine business and inform Commissioners when these things come up. Mr. Henry stated he has full confidence that our County Administrator, Finance Director and anyone else can handle these funds appropriately without having to come to the Board every time, but on the other hand, he likes the idea of the community knowing about such purchases, as they voted this in. Chairman Dowdy said the Administrator could make a report back to the Commissioners, and either way is fine with him. Mr. Harris advised that he thinks the Administrator and Finance Director can handle these matters, Mr. Nance shared sentiments of Mr. Henry and as long a report is made back, and they have a knowledge of what is going on and what’s approved, he has full confidence in them. Mrs. Pheil said that since it was voted on by the public, she wants to make sure that the public knows how their money is being spent, and we hopefully will be asking them to vote this in again in the future. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to authorize Administrator Crapse to handle SPLOST requests in the normal course of business and make a report back to Commissioners on the spending of our SPLOST funds and how it is spent. Administrator Crapse stated he will put a special section in his monthly report for SPLOST expenditures and that way it will go to the news media.
DISCUSS SWMA SURPLUS EQUIPMENT
Administrator Crapse reported that he has just received a letter from Charles Jones, County Landfill Attorney, regarding some equipment that belongs to the Solid Waste Management Authority that they have bid out. He stated that Commissioners have a bid sheet in their packet, and Mr. Jones has pointed out in the letter that he believes that it is all right for the county to purchase these items, if we need them, but he holds quite a bit of reservation with regard to other issues that may be impacted due to this, basically because the members of the Board of Commissioners are also members of the Solid Waste Management Authority and that there may be some question about buying and selling equipment to ourselves. Mr. Crapse advised that Mr. Jones said also there may be some question as to the debt that is owed the county and whether the Authority has the right to sell these things, he has talked to Mr. Gamble and Mr. Gay, and the only thing that has been identified to him that would be of great use to us are the 20 yard roll-off containers. He stated SWMA has a high bid of $500.00 each on these, and we pay about $2,200.00 for those containers, plus we have several that are in need of major repair or replacement. He stated that Mr. Jones has offered to research these matters if the Board is interested. He stated that there is enough question here as to whether we ought to engage in this activity that he thinks it might be better to pass on this idea. Chairman Dowdy agreed that we probably need to keep our distance from this so no one can say we deprived them of an opportunity to buy this equipment. Commissioners agreed and took no action on this matter.
TAX DIGEST UPDATE
Administrator Crapse reported that the tax digest has been forwarded from the Tax Assessor’s Office to the Tax Commissioner, the Tax Commissioner’s contractor, Traylor Business Systems, has run the consolidation sheets on the digest, and we have the figures now that we need for the Department of Revenue that allows us to set a proposed millage rate for 2003. He stated that before we set the millage rate, we have to publish a five-year history showing how that impacts the county taxpayers, hold a public hearing, and then formally adopt the Tax Levy for 2003; it will need to run in coordination with the School Board. He advised that when the Board of Commissioners take action today, they can proceed coordinating with the School Board. He advised that this will put us on a schedule to advertise and have the public hearing on December 2nd and subsequently adopt the millage rate, and this will allow the Tax Commissioner to go to Atlanta and get the digest approved, and once that is approved, then we can send out tax bills; if the system holds together, we should be able to get tax bills out on about December 15th and by the time they reach the people, they will have about nine working days to pay their property taxes in 2003. He said technically the bills will not be due until sixty days after the notices go out, but it would allow the citizens that want to pay their taxes in the year due to get them paid and include that on their IRS income tax form. He stated that it looks like we have a small shortfall in what was anticipated in our revenues due to the revaluation, not significant enough to cause any reaction or to increase taxes, and the 100% roll back which will avoid a tax increase, will amount to about 2.48 mills in the incorporated areas and 2.25 mills in the unincorporated, and that balances out the difference between the revaluation of the property and the millage rate, and this will be no tax increase on behalf of the Board of Commissioners in the tax digest. Mrs. Leverett stated that after we revised the figures this morning, she thinks it will come in under about $14,000.00 of what we budgeted, the proposed rate for the incorporated areas of the county would be 11.765, proposed rates for the unincorporated areas would be 13.382, down from last year $2.25 per mill on the unincorporated, and down $2.48 on the incorporated areas, and county-wide overall, we will have a decrease of 1.22%. Cricket Adkins, Tax Commissioner, advised that it will take probably at least a week after we get to Atlanta to get the bills out, if we get the approval. She stated that the only problem we do have is being able to collect for motor vehicles, we may have to have a court order for this as the bills that are going out for January renewal now, will not have an amount on them, we will have to wait until the mill rate and digest is approved before she can put that on the bills. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the proposed millage rate, seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to set the public hearing on December 1, 2003 at 6:30 p.m., seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried unanimously. Administrator Crapse will coordinate with the School Board.
Mrs. Leverett reported that on the first quarter report of this fiscal year, the revenues were under the expenditures by about $300,000.00, but that is not uncommon for September, and she advised that they did have budget reviews with all the Department Heads and went over their budgets in detail, and overall everybody was within the 25% as they should be at the end of the first quarter. Administrator Crapse stated that as long as we are on our current course, we believe we are going to be okay, we may need to send out a memo to all of the departments asking them to limit their spending to mission essential purchases until such time as we get our cash flow back in order. He advised that they are working on a number as a target that will tell them, based on where they are now, that if we reduce our annual spending by a certain percentage in each department, we will come in on budget. He advised that we are a little over budget, and if we can start with restricting some of that spending by just a small amount, we can possibly come in on budget this year, as it is important that we build and not deplete our cash reserve. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to accept the Financial Report, seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried unanimously.
Administrator Crapse reported: 1) Cedar Creek Phase II study is scheduled to begin next week by Stephenson and Palmer with a completed report date of January 16, 2004 and they plan to be at the regular meeting in February to review the findings of that report; 2) the rail spur at Southeastern Forests Products appears to be going slowly; 3) they had the bid opening for the State Patrol Building, the architect has completed his review of the winning bidder, Horizon, he will send them a letter to proceed with the contracting process, and we should have a contract by the December meeting; 4) the contractor started October 20th on the Youth and Family Resource Center, foundation walls are in place and the fill is being completed, and as soon as the plumbing gets in and inspected, the slab can be poured, also Carl is almost finished with the drain pipe and sub grade for the rock on the parking area, and they are currently addressing a scheduling issue with the contractor based on the delay in the site prep; 5) the RBEG grant on the tower had to be split into two separate grants because the maximum amounts of the type grant we were applying for was $99,999.99, so to get the $200,000.00 we were asking for, we had to spit that, there has been a delay in getting that done, he has talked with the IDC, the RBEG portion of that should be hand delivered Wednesday and the Communities Facilities Grant should be forwarded by the end of the week, if everything goes well; 6) the YDC will begin operations on January 1, 2004, filling 88 anticipated jobs, they are having a job fair yesterday and today, they had 250 applicants yesterday and expect a lot more participation today; 7) he has begun working on the county’s financial, leave, and vehicle utilization retention replacement policy that we discussed last month and he hopes by the next meeting, he will have some drafts of those things; 8) Commissioner Pheil and he will be looking pretty soon to take the County’s Centennial Celebration Committee to the next level and will keep the Commissioners informed of the progress; 9) the City-County Planning Committee will meet for the first time at twelve noon on November 21st at Ramada Inn; 10) he has received a ten minute ACCG video tape titled “The Funding Future for Georgia’s Local Roads”, it is intended to be an educational and awareness raising project for lawmakers as well as the general public, if anyone is interested in looking at it, he has it in his office, it is particularly keyed to the LARP issues and the decline in LARP funding and the necessity to keep the county maintained roads in top shape, just like the state roads; 11) he will be attending the advanced voting training session with the Registrar on December 1st, this will provide the procedures for conducting advanced voting on the Monday through Friday of the week preceding the scheduled elections beginning in 2004; 12) the County Extension Service, by the University of Georgia, has been downsized from five to four districts, and our County Extension is in the newly formed Southwest District, effective November 1st; and 13) going on today from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., there is a free man’s health screening open to the public at Hurt Motor Company, sponsored by the Health Department.
RESOLUTION OF REALLOCATION OF SPLOST FUNDS
Mr. Pfeiffer reported that we have a proposed Resolution and Amendment to the Contract for SPLOST funds, and advised that a number of the county projects are coming in under budget and that some adjustments will need to be made in order to build the Georgia State Patrol Building, to provide the tower, and modifications to E-911 that allow all of the emergency agencies to utilize the tower and triangulate the cell phones so that we can provide emergency service to people who are using cell phones. He stated that this Resolution lays that information out and sets out the reallocation of the funds into the various project categories so that those can be accomplished, and further authorizes the chairman to execute and deliver the proposed Amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreement that will facilitate the Resolution. He stated that this has been discussed several times with Commissioners, but one of the last things that hasn’t been discussed, is there was a portion of the Recreation Project that was for the building of the Arts Center, this Resolution would move that portion from the Recreation Department Project to the County Building Project just as an administrative matter, it will still be a recreation run building. Administrator Crapse stated that he has discussed this with most of the Commissioners and Cary Cason at the Recreation Department, plus he has discussed the Intergovernmental Agreement with both the City of Cordele and the Town of Arabi. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adopt the Resolution Authorizing Reallocation of the 2001 SPLOST Funds, seconded by Mrs. Pheil and motion carried unanimously.
COMMENTS FROM ATTORNEY FOR ROSS WINNER & ROGER WELK
The attorney asked to be allowed to comment on the application of Ross Winner and Roger Welk for further consideration by this Commission, and she believes they have been led into grave constitutional error by the recommendation that was made by Ms. Sangster. She asked to be able to work with Mr. Pfeiffer to see if they can’t resolve that error. Chairman Dowdy stated that they could get with the County Attorney, and see whatever they can work out. He advised that we acted on the information that we had, we took the surveyor that ya’ll had approved to bring it in, and it didn’t meet our Ordinances. She stated that they disagree with that, and they would have liked to have had an opportunity to speak, and they believed that this was to be an extension of the public hearing and they should have had that opportunity, and they do object to that portion of this proceeding, but they would like to work with Mr. Pfeiffer to see what they can do to work the matter out. Chairman Dowdy stated that whatever she and Mr. Pfeiffer can work out, Commissioners will recognize whatever ya’ll come up with.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Henry to go into Executive Session to discuss real estate and potential litigation, seconded by Mr. Nance and motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Henry to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Harris and motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adjourn meeting at 11:27 a.m., seconded by Mr. Henry and motion carried unanimously.