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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 Lester E. Crapse, Jr., County Attorney Guy D. Pfeiffer, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and secretary Linda Finch. Rev. Phil Streetman, Pastor of Lake Blackshear Baptist Church, gave the invocation, and also thanked retiring Chairman Dowdy for his service to Crisp County.


Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the minutes of the meetings of November 9 and December 2, 2004, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.


Connie Sangster, Planning Department Director, reported that this is the decision on the Public Hearing we had last month for the rezoning request from Anthony and Martha Jane Laporte. She stated that Commissioners have received the review check list, asked if there were any questions, and there were none. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to grant the request of the Laporte’s and rezone approximately 3 to 4 acres of property from RR (Rural Residential) to GC ( General Commercial), located at the intersections of Hwys. 280 and 90, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.


Belinda Griffin, Judge of Probate Court and Elections Superintendent, reported that the face of elections have been changing for the last couple of years, and the preparations for elections have changed greatly since she began several years ago. She advised that the Elections Superintendent has always been a part-time job of the Probate Judge, and with all the changes, she has had the feeling that we needed to do something different if the Board of Commissioners would consider; but any decision she made would effect our registrar, Mary Stewart. Mrs. Stewart has told her that when her term is up in June, 2005, that she is going to be ready to come off as Chief Registrar, and she felt like this was the appropriate time to approach the Board about going to a Board of Elections. This would mean that this Board would handle registrations and elections, and be devoted entirely to that process, which is a very important process. Administrator Crapse reported that after Judge Griffin gave him the background, he has prepared a Resolution that allows the Commissioners to establish such a board effective July 1, 2005, through the enactment of local legislation by the General Assembly. It also requests that the General Assembly establish that Board consisting of a chairman and four members; chairperson to be appointed by the Board of Commissioners, one member each appointed by the Democratic and Republican Executive Committees, and two members to be nominated by the Grand Jury and appointed by the Chief Superior Court Judge of the Cordele Judicial Circuit. He advised that the formula and salary are not fixed by law, it can be fixed by local legislation by the desires of the Commissioners. Judge Griffin advised that she has enjoyed doing the elections over the years, but it has grown so much, that she was going to have to hire someone to help with the elections, and this would take the place of that as it would be combining her job and Mrs. Stewart’s job. Mrs. Stewart advised that her term expires in June, and she thought that would be a good time to step down. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the Resolution To Establish a Crisp County Board of Elections and Registration, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Nance to reappoint Bob Evans to the Cordele-Crisp Industrial Development Authority for a three year term to run from 1-1-05 to 12-31-07, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Henry to reappoint Russell Adams to the Crisp County Board of Health for a six year term to run from 1-1-05 to 12-31-10, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Henry to reappoint Charles Hurt to the Development Authority of Crisp County for a six year term to run from 1-13-05 to 1-12-11, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to reappoint Bobby Sheppard to the Development Authority of Crisp County for a six year term to run from 1-13-05 to 1-12-11, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Nance to reappoint Betty Roberson and Cheryl Couturier to the Crisp County Hospital Authority for five year terms to run from 1-1-05 to 12-31-09, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.


Chairman Dowdy advised that these two members would fill the seats vacated by Willie Shiloh and Brenda Ray. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to appoint Larry Felton to the Crisp County Recreation Department Advisory Board for a three year term to run from 1-1-05 to 12-31-07, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to appoint Freda Brewer to the Crisp County Recreation Department Advisory Board for a three year term to run from 1-1-05 to 12-31-07, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Henry to reappoint Clark Henderson and Kirby Wood to the Solid Waste Management Authority for a four year term to run from 2-13-05 to 2-12-09, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried with Mrs. Pheil abstaining.


Administrator Crapse reported that last week they met with a committee of bankers on the spec building project, and went over the funding structure and how it needs to be set out. They have taken the bids on the spec building and the bid was $2.5 million plus, which exceeded the budget on that project. He advised that they worked out with the bankers, IDA, and IDC, a way that they could move forward on the spec building in order to get that job accomplished. The bid was good for thirty days, which means the contract must be let by December 21st or they are going to suffer a price increase. It came out that the most feasible option was to cut back on some of the optional work and that brought them to a total of $1,938,000.00, but that depended on a considerable amount of work being done by the county prior to the building construction being started. He explained that they were uncomfortable that the county would be able to mass that much force, so they allowed about $217,900.00 to be allocated to the project, and the county will participate to the maximum extent as possible, plus they would try to adjust that down with change orders in the contract to offset the county work. Also, the request was that the county was to commit $250,000.00 from the county’s revolving loan fund, this money had been committed to be held for a pending application for a “project tourism”, that request has now been withdrawn and is no longer on the table, making the $250,000.00 available to help support this project and secure the spec building. He stated that Mr. Pfeiffer has prepared a Resolution that basically provides the additional $250,000.00 of the county’s revolving loan fund money to the IDA to be used in conjunction for the spec building project. Bruce Drennan, Executive Director of IDC, advised that this will be to cover a shortfall they have in the budget, and the primary increase in the cost of what they anticipated is the cost of the increase in steel prices and cement. Mr. Pfeiffer advised that the money will be paid back when the building is leased or sold, will be repaid on a fifteen year amortization, five years and then a balloon at 5% interest. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to approve the Resolution Authorizing Revolving Loan Fund To Cordele-Crisp County Industrial Development Authority in the amount of $250,000.00, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Administrator Crapse reported that in the Commissioners packet is the proposal by the county showing which new SPLOST projects would be funded, and also the letter from the City of Cordele which provides their approval and list the City’s projects by name, and it provides $3,750,000.00 to go to the City of Cordele for their capital projects. Up until this point, this has been a proposal that we have been negotiating with the various interests in the county, the law provides that we are required to have an Intergovernmental Agreement in order to proceed with this and not get into a distribution formula. He has the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement, and he would like a motion to approve the SPLOST distribution to send to the Election Superintendent and the Department of Justice for review. Commissioners applauded the hard work and corporation of both Commission bodies, and also the hard work of Administrator Crapse. Administrator Crapse praised Mrs. Leverett and all the department heads, and elected officials who all worked together to make this happen. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the SPLOST proposal and the Intergovernmental Agreement, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Administrator Crapse reported that this has come about because of a change in the law of the county waiver of immunity in automobile liability. The county carries $1 million in automobile liability, and what the change in the law allows is to limit the county’s liability in a staged step level. He explained that if the county has $1 million worth of liability insurance, the insurance pays off and the county has sovereign immunity and is not liable for anything over $1 million dollars, or whatever the coverage the county carries, it pays up to that amount of insurance and the county is not responsible for anything over that amount. The law has changed so that between now and 2008, those limits are set by law at $100,000.00 for this year or 11.7% credit, 2006 it goes to $250,000.00 or 8.2% credit, and in 2008 it goes to $500,000.00 or 3.4% credit, and by reducing our amount of insurance that is not covered by sovereign immunity, it reduces the cost of the insurance. He and Mr. Pfeiffer have discussed this, and as long as the law is in the flow of change between nothing and the amounts of insurance, it may be prudent to set it at the $500,000.00 and take the 3.4% reduction in insurance. It is more than what is required by law, but it would require us to change it two more times if we took the lesser of the $500,000.00. Mr. Pfieffer advised that the only issue Commissioners have is by going with the $500,000.00 up front, it eliminates any potential for their being a claim that the insurance company contends is covered by the $100,000.00 policy, that it ultimately is in the time frame of the $250,000.00 liability, it just takes out the possibility of trap of the progressing liabilities. Administrator Crapse advised that, after talking with Mr. Pfeiffer, we go with the $500,000.00 limit of coverage so that there is no gray area in the next three years, and we will still save 3.4% in our liability coverage, which will amount to $5,000.00 to $6,000.00. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to change the automobile insurance liability waiver from $1 million to $500,000.00, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pfeiffer reported that the county has the power to refund a tax that has been assessed and paid that wasn’t owed, but he hasn’t found out precisely how the county can correct a tax bill. In the correction of the tax bill for Heartland Building Systems, he doesn’t know that they have filed a corrected return, and the problem here is that Heartland filed a return with property that is now contented to be owned by the Development Authority, which would not be taxable. He said there is an issue with the way they structured that transaction because they don’t define what property is owned by the Development Authority except by value, and he doesn’t know whether they can do that, he will have to do some research on this. His recommendation is to table it until the next regular meeting until they can find out more information. Administrator Crapse reported that Heartland wants to pay the taxes on the building because they don’t want to be delinquent in taxes, but they don’t think they should have to pay the whole amount. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to table the decision until we get more information, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously. Administrator Crapse will get with Mr. Tanner of Heartland Building Systems and advise him of what they think he should do.


Administrator Crapse reported that the county received a federal grant to purchase a piece of fire equipment, basically a vacuum tanker, which is a rather sophisticated piece of equipment that the county does not have now, as it is the latest thing in fire service in terms of moving large amounts of water rapidly from one point to another. This requires around $177,000.00 in federal funds and around $20,000.00 from the county, which is allocated from the SPLOST fire equipment. They solicited bids for this tanker and received three bids: Firevack bid $228,034.00, EAM’s bid was $207,497.65, and Diversified Fabricators bid was $158,656.42, which is quite a difference in the bid price of this particular truck. Diversified Fabricators was the apparent low bidder, they have built tankers, but they have never built a machine like this before, and they are not following the specifications of the National Fire Protection Association in several areas, which they think are substandard and involves the safety of the vehicle and the performance of that vehicle in terms of pumping and capacity, and he and Fire Chief Ray Lunsford have gone over all three bids, and Mr. Lunsford has reviewed all bids and has come up with a proposal. He said after going over these bids the low bid in this case may not be the best bid in the interest of the county. Chief Lunsford explained that Diversified Fabricators does not mention at any time the ability of their truck to be able to load or off-load the water and the speed is important, as this particular type of tanker will load and/or off-load in less than three minutes as this allows them to have less people shuffling water and can have two to three more people on the fire scene. He advised that the request he put in for the fire grant was the fact that we have an interstate, two major railroads, all of which have no hydrants. He went over Diversified Fabricators’ (DFI) proposal, and there are no built in safety features shown or mentioned in details; the design in not in order with the specifications nor does it comply with the design of any other vacuum pressure trucks; this will be the first vacuum tanker that this company has ever built; it does not meet the requirements for the baffles in the tank, creating an unsafe vehicle during faster maneuvering; both pumps are driven by a hydraulic pump that leads to leaking, hose problems, and another system of oil to maintain; cam lock style couplings used in industry, he advised will not hold vacuum and pressure alternate as most other types would; Berkley pumps, what DFI bid on, have been used by the Ga. Forestry Services, but they went to other models for cost and service time; they requested camera rear visibility, but the bid did not mention any; and they bid three inch piping and the other two bid four inch piping. The National Fire Protection Association develops guidelines for everything from sprinkler systems to fire trucks to fire stations, and in this bid package they asked for the 1901 specifications on tankers to be followed specifically and the drawings DFI have sent does not follow those specifications. Chief Lunsford asked that the Commissioners look at the small amount of money that we are paying, the 10%, and go with the EAM bid instead of the lowest bid. Mr. Pfeiffer stated that the low bid did not comply with the bid specifications, and that is reason enough not to go with the low bid. Administrator Crapse pointed out that the EAM tank is a lifetime warranty and there is no warranty on the Diversified Fabricators. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to take the EAM bid of $207,497.62 for the vacuum tanker, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Administrator Crapse reported that he thinks it is important that the county support the Centennial Committee, and he read the proposed Beard Ordinance that they have come up with. This Ordinance requests that all adults wear the fashion of 1905 whenever and wherever possible to show their support of Crisp County’s heritage, and they have determined that the appropriate fashion in 1905 for adult males is wearing of beards. The Crisp County Centennial Committee has requested that the Crisp County Board of Commissioners provide by law that all adult males display the appropriate fashion of 1905 by growing beards between January 1, 2005 and August 17, 2005. Adult males can purchase a razor pass to be shown on demand from the Crisp County Centennial Committee for the sum of $20.00 allowing them to shave during this time period, and adult males being found guilty of the violation of the Ordinance shall be punished with the whim of the Centennial Committee to severe humiliation and other punishment of their choosing, for refusing to participate fully in the county’s 100's birthday celebration. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to adopt the Centennial Beard Ordinance, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Sherrie Leverett reported that she has a couple of budgets adjustments on the general fund that came as the result of some entries that the auditors made that were not included in the year-end budget adjustments, so actually this is an amendment to the budget adjustments that we had earlier in the year. The first adjustment is to record expenses and offsetting entries of $174,059.00 to record the pass thru grant that went to IDC on the railroad spur, and the other adjustment is to transfer part of the funds that were included in the interfund transfer to the landfill to the actual expense for tipping fees to the general fund. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to adopt the budget adjustments for FY2004, seconded by Mr. Henry, motion carried unanimously. Mrs. Leverett also asked that Commissioners approve the budget adjustments on the Crisp County Asset Forfeiture Fund, those were not included in the original budget adjustment as we did not have those figures at that time. Motion was made by Mr. Henry to adopt the budget adjustment on the Crisp County Asset Forfeiture Fund, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that Commissioners have the November Financial Report, the year-to-date revenues are still running a little higher than this time last year, we seem to be in good shape and are starting to get in tax revenues, but the expenditures are exceeding the revenues by about 1%, but the bulk of our revenue will be coming in this month with ad valorem taxes. Total cash county wide is $12,405,000, she has them broken down by funds, and the landfill is still struggling. SPLOST detail includes two reimbursements from DOT on Hannah Road and the Youth and Family Resource Center Parking Lot. We have about $26,000.00 due on the tower to the contractor, which is the retainage. Administrator Crapse reported that they are negotiating with the tower company now on a change order adjustment about what comes off of the old tower and what doesn’t, and trying to make sure all the work has been completed. Mrs. Leverett reported that we did receive a couple of payments on a couple of the delinquent Revolving Loan Fund Accounts this month, and she received an E-mail from the auditor and he is to have her a draft of the audit report today, and we should have the audit report finalized by the end of the month. Administrator Crapse reported that he has talked with Mr. Barfield, County’s Auditor, he was going to try to be here today but they are in the middle of their internal audit by another firm, but he would put together a letter on behalf of the Board of Commissioners to explain all of the ill effects that could become the county short of getting an appraisal and an unqualified audit from the Solid Waste Authority.


Administrator Crapse reported: 1) SPLOST expenditures approved this month were for $16,800.00 for the parking lot at the Arabi Health Center building, and the approval of the purchase of two sheriff department vehicles from their allocated SPLOST funds; 2) he attended several events and meetings; 3) we received our final notice on reimbursement for Hurricane Frances damage. The total reimbursement will be $173,143.00. We will also be receiving another $1,800.00 in mitigation funds separately to put a 30-year roof on the Health Department verses a 20-year roof. These funds for a new roof will help with the renovations to the Health Department Building programmed for the next SPLOST. We are still waiting to here from losses from Hurricane Jeanne; 4) Prime is on Ray, Slim & Fann’s Bridge Roads with asphalt to go down this week, weather permitting. LARP resurfacing projects on Antioch Road & Lakeview Circle will be done along with the three paving projects; 5) Work also continues on the New Town Streets contract, most of the pipe is in and with roadbed grading beginning this month; 6) We received the letter authorizing the contracts for the Old Penia Road resurfacing project so that should be coming down soon, however, the work probably wont be done until next season; 7) Sherrie and I will be meeting with EPD in Albany next Tuesday on the Financial Assurance at the Landfill. Following Sherrie’s discussions with them they have canceled their request to meet with the Board at this point, so I think Sherrie did a good job, and that we will be able to satisfy their concerns without any major action; 8) The Department of Motor Vehicle Safety has moved their temporary facility on the site, and we are assisting in getting that facility hooked-up. They plan to move into it on January 10,2005. DOC is scheduled to begin renovation late January or early February; 9) The City of Cordele renewed it’s commitment of $20,000.00 cash leverage on the Northside Sever & Water Project Grant to be resubmitted in 2005; 10) We received a “Thank You” Cards from Public Works for the Employee Bonus and Junior & Joyce Newmans for Christmas Dinner with the County employees and the GSP for the new patrol post and Ribbon Cutting. We also received a “Thank You” and complements from the Main Street organization and the DBO on the Big Christmas Tree lighting and entertainment; 11) The Youth & Family Resource Center Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening is Friday, December 17th at 10:00 A.M.; 12) We have two Bid Openings on Friday for Water Main Relocation at the Old 280 Bridge Site and Landfill Monitoring at 2:00 and 3:00 P.M. respectively; 13) Don’t forget the ACCG Legislative Conference (February 14-15, 2005) registration if you haven’t turned it in yet; 14) Make your plans for the Legislative Fishfry, February 22, 2005; and 15) Don’t forget the Reception for Mr. Dowdy following the meeting and the Reception for Judge Forrester and Betty Greene at 5:00 this evening at the Community Club House. Mrs. Pheil thanked Carl Gamble for the work done on Ray Road, as she goes to church with several people that live on that road, and they are very pleased with the results.


Chairman Dowdy thanked all of the Commissioners, Department Heads, Elected Officials, and staff for putting up with him for the last several years, he appreciates all that has been done for him, and thanked all for their support.


Mrs. Pheil stated that shortly after she became a Commissioner, Chairman Dowdy appointed her to the Crisp County Community Council, which is charged with looking after our families and children in Crisp County, and Kathy Garwood, Director of the Council, saw an opportunity to get a new building. She stated that to get seventeen or eighteen entities to agree on how a building should be used was a difficult task, but Mrs. Garwood did a wonderful job of getting all to agree and they came up with an agreement, and we now have a wonderful facility that families and children will be served out of. She then made a motion that from this day forward that this building be know as the J. R. Dowdy, Jr. Youth & Family Resource Center, seconded by Mr. Henry, motion carried unanimously. Mrs. Garwood stated that this is a most fitting tribute to Mr. Dowdy, to have a family resource center named after you, as she has seen his love of and dedication to his family and of his diligent hard work to protect children in this county and to strengthen families, and it is their pleasure to be housed in the J. R. Dowdy, Jr. Family Resource Building. Mr. Henry presented a plaque with a gavel, that was purchased for him ten years ago, and read the plaque, which said “in appreciation to J. R. Dowdy, Jr. for thirty years of honorable and dedicated service to Crisp County as Commissioner January 1, 1975 to December 31, 2004, as Chairman January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2004". Chairman Dowdy thanked all, and replied that he can’t think of a better place to live and work and raise a family than Crisp County.


Motion was made by Mr. Henry to go into Executive Session to discuss personnel and real estate, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.


Motion was made by Mr. Henry to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


By common consent, Commissioners adjourned meeting at 11:55 A.M.

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