MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2004
The meeting was called to order 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 Lester E. Crapse, Jr., County Attorney Guy D. Pfeiffer, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and secretary Linda Finch. Rev. Dr. Gregory, pastor of Allen Temple A.M.E. Church, gave the invocation.
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approved the minutes of the meeting of August 10, 2004, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
DECISION - SHORELINE DEVELOPMENT, LLC
Connie Sangster, Planning Director, reported that today is the rezoning decision on the request from Shoreline Development, LLC to rezone from RS2 (Single Family Residential) to PUD (Planned Unit Development), she read the review checklist, and at the bottom of the list, and she has suggested some conditions that need to be part of the motion, if the request is approved. Chairman Dowdy stated that we had the public hearing at the last meeting, and there was no opposition to the request. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the rezoning change for Shoreline Development to PUD with conditions, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING - BILL’S AUTO & TOWING SERVICE
Ms. Sangster reported that this request is a special use and Commissioners can make their decision today, Bill Dickerson, d.b.a. Bill’s Auto & Towing Service, with the property owner’s authorization, has asked to locate an automotive repair shop in a GC (General Commercial) zone district. The property is located at 1316 North Hwy. 41. She advised that it has always been used as an automotive repair shop, but was recently closed down, so it lost it’s grandfather status, and we need to make it part of a conditional use permit. Mr. Dickerson stated he wants to open up an automotive repair shop to do general maintenance on automobiles plus he is in the process of buying a tow truck, and he would like to ask permission of how many cars he can have there at one time. Ms. Sangster reported that she has put at the end of the checklist, as part of the motion, that the property is to be used only as an automotive repair shop and not as junk yard for inoperative vehicles, no more than fifteen vehicles shall remain on the property at a time, and vehicles shall be located in one general maintained location on the property; failure to follow these conditions will void the special use permit. Chairman Dowdy asked Mr. Dickerson if he could live with that, and he replied that fifteen cars is less than what he had in mind. Mr. Nance reported that at a lot of body shops, cars sit there for a good while and it becomes a sore eye. Mr. Dickerson stated that he will make sure that no junk sits there, but sometimes people don’t come and get their cars very fast. Mr. Henry stated that we certainly want to encourage businesses, but we do have to stay within certain rules and regulations. Mr. Dickerson said fifteen cars is not very many to have at one time, and he thinks maybe twenty to twenty-five would be a good number to have. Chairman Dowdy asked if there were any other comments from the public, and there were none. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to close the public hearing, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the special use request with change of no more than twenty vehicles to remain on the property at one time, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING - TEXT AMENDMENT TO THE UNIFIED LAND DEV. CODE
Ms. Sangster reported that the restrictions on particular uses was left out of the Unified Land Development Code when we redid it in 2000; we need to amend “ b” to add “the structure shall also have a minimum 6' X 6' front porch and code complying rear steps”, and stated that this is for the areas where double-wide mobile homes are allowed and it is just to make it more compatible with the existing homes in the area. Chairman Dowdy asked if there were any public comments, and there were none. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to close the public hearing, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously. Decision will be made at the next regular Commissioners meeting in October.
CRISP-DOOLY FORESTRY REPORT
Maury Fore, Ranger I, and Mark McCluire, forester, brought the annual Crisp-Dooly Forestry Report. Mr. Fore reported that some of their personnel assisted with the G-8 Summit in Savannah when all the world leaders were here, making sure they had water, food, and lodging along with reinforcement of their fire-fighting teams in case of any fires in that area that might happen during that time. They also went through a dry weather time where they did not issue burning permits in Crisp and Dooly counties, they sent crews to the east coast in April and May to fight fires, along with personnel being sent to Florida to help with the National Forest fires. He advised that they have been awarded a fire mitigation grant to reduce litter so that we can become a more fire-wise community, they are continuing to do educational programs in the school system, he thanked Commissioners for furnishing the Southern Linc radios, and thanked Crisp County Fire/Rescue for the help they have given them. Mr. McCluire thanked Commissioners also, and stated that if they can be of assistance, please give them a call. Mrs. Pheil stated that it is remarkable that the average forest fire in Crisp and Dooly Counties was held to only 3.15 acres, and thanked them for doing a good job.
2005 CDBG PROJECT
Don tenBensel, Middle Flint RDC Executive Director, handed out a review on the 2004 CDBG grant application that was not funded by the Department of Community Affairs. He advised that on the demographics portion, we got 79 points out of 120, and leverage was 5 points out of 30, which means how much was non CDBG money that we were putting into the project, and we can work on that. He stated that Mr. Crapse has mentioned that we could go through the Empowerment Zone’s grant cycle and see if we can’t get some assistance, and that this would give us an advantage beyond “points”, because if we can get enough we could include an area along Hwy 41, that we didn’t have enough money for the first time. He said on the feasibility we got 90 out of 150, and the main problem here was the fact that we didn’t have an option on the water system, we need to tackle this first thing, and Commissioners may want to officially make Mr. Truluck an offer. Mr. tenBensel stated that he doesn’t think there is anything there that would keep us from getting the grant next year, we just have to work out a couple of items. He advised that they have prepared an Administrative Agreement for Middle Flint RDC to work with Commissioners on the 2005 cycle. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to accept the Letter of Agreement, Community Development Block Grant Fiscal Year 2005, between Middle Flint RDC and Crisp County, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
ACCG VOTING DELEGATE & RDC’S CONFERENCE
Motion was made by Mr. Henry for Mr. Harris to be the voting delegate at the ACCG 2004 Fall Policy Conference and also be the county’s representative at the Georgia Association of RDC’s, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
ADOPTION OF PRE-DISASTER MITIGATION PLAN RESOLUTION
Administrator Crapse reported that the county applied and received a grant for the pre-disaster mitigation plan, the plan was approved by the Commission several months ago to send to the state and federal government, they have approved the plan as submitted, and this proposed Resolution formally adopts the plan after review by the state and federal government. He stated it has been signed by the city commission, and if adopted by the Board of Commissioners of Crisp County, it will be forwarded to the Arabi Council to be signed by them tonight, and then it will become an official document. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Crisp County Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan - 2004-2008, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
TAX ADJUSTMENT ON CONTINENTAL TIMBER CORPORATION
Wayne Christian, Brent Ray, and Don Christian met with Commissioners to discuss a tax adjustment on Continental Timber Corporation (old Signature Finishers Building). Wayne Christian stated that in February they got involved with the facility, it was in bankruptcy at that time, the bankruptcy judge released it on February 27th and turned it over to the bank, and they bought the facility on April 6. They determined at that time that there was some outstanding taxes for year 2001, 2002, and 2003. He said in 2001 & 2002, it was appraised at $1,440,000, and in 2003 it was appraised at $1,628,000; they have had discussions with the tax appraisers, and they said they sent notices to the owners regarding the appraisals but they got no response and they assessed the tax based on the historical side. Mr. Christian stated that an appraisal company appraised the facility in January, 2001, at an appraised value of $952,500, and this year they had an appraisal done in April, and he referenced the property being worth $220,000. He said that why this appraiser was so conservative is there were some problems with the facility that has significantly deteriorated over time; the roof is in bad shape, there is some environmental issues with the property, there is still about 67,000 gallons of chromium in the facility, it has paint tanks and a rail system down the facility, the inventory and equipment for all practical purposes were gone, and the parking lot needs some repair. They feel like the valuation for those three years was probably high and they used the same valuation in 2004, but they were not on the scene in 2004, so he guesses they have a problem in 2004 likewise. They are asking if there is someway they can get a reduction in that assessment for those prior three years and the current year, they want to be good citizens and get it cleaned up and get a good tenant in there, and this is just one step in the whole scenario. Chairman Dowdy, as a member of Planter First, took no action in the discussion of this facility. Mr. Pfeiffer advised that he thinks Commissioners need to table this until he does some research, as he doesn’t know if there is any basis upon which you can change the valuation, but he will take a look at it. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to table the decision until Mr. Pfeiffer looks into this matter, seconded by Mr. Henry, motion carried with Chairman Dowdy taking no part in the vote as he is a member of the bank board that sold the business to the Christians.
ADOPTION OF HEALTH PLAN CHANGES FOR 2004-2005 PLAN YEAR
Administrator Crapse reported that basically to stay even with where we are now in the Crisp County Local Government Health Plan, we need $250,000 to keep it solvent. In the review of the plan, there was some discussions of increasing the deductibles, and they looked at a number of options of increasing the cost of health insurance to the employee in terms of both the individual coverage and the family coverage to keep up with the rising costs. Basically, that would have meant raising both of those 15% and that still wouldn’t have covered what our financial policy states as our objective to pay 50% and have the employee pay 50%; essentially if we pass half the increase along to the employees, the bottom line would be that we gave them a $600 raise in July, if you made $20,000, and we would take $900 back. He said they came up with what they considered to be a short term solution for this fiscal year, which would be to raise the deductible from $300 in plan and $500 out of plan up to $500 in plan and $1000 out of plan, also to raise the family contribution 10% and leaving the individual contribution where it is. We could make the appropriate amount of increase to keep the plan solvent so long as the county puts in the entire 15% that we budgeted, which amounts to the county paying 76% of the family coverage, that is contrary to our financial policy, but unless we want to take more pay out of our employees pockets, this is the most reasonable solution, but we are looking at some other alternative ways to provide for our employees in the future. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the proposed insurance changes presented by Administrator Crapse, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
DOT PROPOSAL ON 24TH AVENUE OVERPASS
Administrator Crapse reported that they have a full set of the 24th Avenue overpass plans from the DOT, and they are proposing an overpass that will eliminate the old state patrol building on 24th Ave. and 7th Street, the first drive in between this building and the health department will go from a 10' drive to a 30' drive. Somewhere around the front of the health department is where the incline would begin and so it would eliminate the main entrance between the health department and the senior center. The proposal moves the main entry down to 23rd Avenue where they propose to put a totally new street with curb and gutter, it did not include a drive on 7th Street nor a provision for turn around at the end of 23rd Avenue. He discussed that with the DOT, they called back and said that we can retain the 7th Street entry, as well as they would put a 30' two way driving lane at the end of 23rd Avenue. He advised that Commissioners have a DOT proposal for the old state patrol building and another small area the DOT will need, parcel 3 is where the building is and they have proposed to pay us $6,150 for the land, $1,560 for the easement, $28,000 for the building, $6,460 for the concrete paving that they would destroy, $800 for the chain link fence, $250 for damage to landscaping, $1,600 as a cure for two lost parking spaces, and $250 for damage to trade fixtures, making a total of $45,370 and they will also pay in addition to this for moving our storage in that building out of there to a new location. He advised that parcel 16 is a small corner that is about half the size of the table in the Commissioners meeting room, it is valued at $250, and he would recommend that we donate this to DOT and not go through the paperwork for that amount of money. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to accept the appraisal report on parcel 3 for $45,370 and take Administrator Crapse’s recommendation and accept the appraisal report on parcel 16 for $250 and donate this parcel to DOT, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
SALE OF COUNTY PROPERTY PURCHASED BY THE ARTS ALLIANCE
Administrator Crapse reported that the Arts Alliance has asked the Board of Commissioners to sell the property on the corner of 13th Avenue and 6th Street as they have no use for it. Mr. Pfeiffer stated that was property the county purchased for lease to the Arts Alliance under the Recreation Department SPLOST, and if the county sold it, the money would go back into the Recreation Department SPLOST. Administrator Crapse reported that the county has about $87,000 in it considering the price we paid for the lot and house and what we paid for tearing the house down and disposing of it. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to put the property on the corner of 13th Avenue and 6th Street out for bids, seconded by Mr. Henry, motion carried unanimously.
RENTAL FEES/CONTRACT FOR COUNTY TOWER
Administrator Crapse reported that we have a new tower that is up, he has gotten some inquiries about renting space on the tower, and there is space available on the tower. They did some research in the area about what tower space was costing, and they found that tower space for a single antenna is staring at about $1,300 to $1,500 a month, and they rent space based on supply and demand, so as the space reduces on the tower they up the price of the fee, which means the first person is paying a lower fee than the second person, etc. He doesn’t’ believe that this is an appropriate scenario for governments to do, and he doesn’t think that we should compete with our local providers for tower space on a one-to-one basis, but we should take advantage of the revenue stream to rent out the excess space on the tower. He proposed to Commissioners that we rent the space out for a fee of $1,200 a month for tenants, and that we have the county attorney do a standard contract so that it is clear that if there is any interference with our communications, it is the responsibility of the person renting the space to clear up that problem or vacate the tower, and also, since this is a public tower, if it becomes necessary at any future time during the course of the lease that this space be needed for public safety purposes that we could terminate that lease and regain that space on the tower. Most of the leases run for a minimum of five years, with a renewal, and there is a build in escalation clause of somewhere between 3% to 5%. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to accept the Administrator’s recommendation of leasing tower space at $1,200 a month, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH GSP ON BUILDING
Administrator Crapse reported that this Memorandum of Understanding with GSP on Occupation of Building is an agreement to allow the Georgia State Patrol to occupy the building before they actually take possession of the building. He said it will probably take some ninety days to get the paperwork needed to get this deeded. This Memorandum is an agreement between the Georgia State Patrol and Crisp County for the temporary use of the property, it looks pretty straightforward, and as long as it is ours, we would be responsible for the maintenance on the building. Mr. Pfeiffer stated that this agreement allows either party to back out after thirty days, it is intended to be a short term solution to what is going to be a permanent solution, and he doesn’t see any problem. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to adopt the Memorandum of Understanding with GSP on Occupation of Building, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
REPORT ON RC&D MEETING
Mrs. Pheil reported that she and Mr. Harris attended the RC&D meeting on September 9th, they are still in the process of sending up all the paperwork to Washington, DC in anticipation of having our RC&D approved, some of the staff that has been helping them get started is leaving, and they are in the process of transition now with the staff. She said there is still one county that has not come into the RC&D, Crisp County was the first to join, and she thinks it is going to produce good things for Crisp County.
FINAL FY-04 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS APPROVED
Finance Director Sherrie Leverett reported that they have before them the annual FY-04 budget adjustments that the county needs to officially adopt. She said the first three pages are of revenue adjustments by line item showing any adjustments and a brief explanation of what they were for. The bottom line on the General Fund is that the original revenues at $12,104,780 with an adjustment of $538,955 brings this to an ending balance of $12,643,735, and the bulk of the $538,955 is in grant activity, most of which was unbudgeted, and also increase in court fees and fines. She advised that the last two pages is the expenditure side, they are listed by departments, some of these have actually had prior approval during the year, but they included them just to have it clean and all together for the auditors. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approved the FY-04 budget adjustments, seconded by Mr. Henry, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported that Commissioners have before them the August report: The General Fund revenue is around $649,000 for this month, which is about $20,000 behind last year, the expenditures are at $958,000 for this month and are about $100,000 behind last year; Landfill account year-to-date revenue is $92,000 with operating expenses year-to-date at $193,000; and Waterworks revenue year-to-date is $54,000 with operating expenses of about $29,000 and depreciation debt service is another $45,000. She advised that all of the cash balances are up from this time last year, but the bulk of that is in the SPLOST fund, which is up about $1.9 million over this time last year, and advised that they just made the final draw and closed out GEFA loan #4 for cells 8 & 9 in the Landfill Account. Next, she went over the SPLOST summary report by departments, showing their budgets, how much they have purchased, and their remaining balance; we have collected $11,221,000 year-to-date of the $16 million that we anticipated for the entire issue. Also, the auditors are now working on site.
Administrator Crapse reported: 1) he attended several meetings and ribbon cuttings; 2) Today completes his first year as your County Administrator. It’s been a great year for him, he hopes an even better one for Crisp County, and he looks forward to continuing his work as your Administrator for the next year; 3) Hurricanes Frances and Ivan have been the big events since the August meeting. The EOC has functioned very well and all county elements have performed in an outstanding manner during the dual emergencies. It’s been a really good workout, with some minor sheltering and evacuations taking place, and all have gone well so far. Local damage to date has been very light and most systems were go on Tuesday morning after our worst time on Monday night a week ago, allowing cleanup efforts to get underway with a high priority; 4) SPLOST: There was one new SPLOST expenditure authorized this month. That is the replacement of a Deputy Patrol Vehicle, including video camera, in the amount of $27,000. In addition, the City of Arabi has requested $150,000 from their SPLOST allocation for the new Arabi Health Clinic. The funds are available in their allocation, but since this expenditure is not specifically authorized in the SPLOST allocation, he is requesting the Boards approval for the disbursement of these funds based on the draw schedule in the contract. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to authorize disbursement not to exceed $150,000 for the City of Arabi Health Clinic, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously. 5) The Crisp County Community Council Is now operating from the Youth & Family Resource Center Building. The parking lot work was delayed by the weather, but has been completed except for striping. A ribbon cutting/grand opening should follow this shortly; 6) The certificate of substantial completion on the GSP building has been issued and only minor touch-up work is outstanding on the project; 7) The City of Cordele has accepted the New Town Sewer Phase 2 system for operation and maintenance; 8) Work started on the New Town Streets contract on the 10th, and should be completed in about 60 days; 9) The Public Safety Communications Tower is now up to its maximum height and work continues on cabling and antennas as well as the equipment building. We still project being operational by October 31, 2004; 10) The DMVS has approved the final floor plans for their building. A letter from the Chairman was sent regarding the proposed charge for the Mobile Construction Team supervisors. We have not yet received a response from Commissioner Donald at Department of Corrections; 11) The Grant award announcements for accessibility improvements at Polling Places were due by August 31st; however, we have not heard anything as of yesterday; 12) The Indigent Defense Lawsuit against the Cordele Judicial Circuit, et at has been dismissed; 13) In response to the judge’s request closing arguments in the Love Stuff case were submitted in writing by our attorneys on September 3, 2004; We haven’t heard anything yet, but we expect the judge to make his ruling soon; 14) I would like to schedule a working session with the Board on the 2006 SPLOST allocations for Friday, September 24th, at 10:00 AM if that is convenient with the Board; 15) We received a “Thank Your” note again from Cordelia Manor for our support of their event hosing the Lt. Governor for lunch; 16) I will be attending the Clerks Training Program September 19-22, 2004; 17) The ACCG Fall Policy Conference is September 27-29, 2004; and 18) The Centennial Celebration Committee will meet next tonight at 5:30 PM in the CCPC Conference Room. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to go into Executive Session to discuss potential litigation and real estate, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE ORDER OF THE COURT & DISMISSAL OF LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY
Motion was made by Mr. Henry that Commissioners approve the proposed Order of the Court, File No. 02Z-510, and authorize the County Landfill Attorney, Charles Jones, to execute appropriate procedures including dismissal of a lawsuit against the City of Cordele with prejudice, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
PURSUE CDBG SEWER GRANT PROJECT
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to authorize Administrator Crapse to pursue a CDBG Sewer Grant Project and get the engineering services, etc., seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Henry to adjourn meeting at 12:04 PM, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.