MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON NOVEMBER 8, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Chairman Ferrell Henry, with Commissioners James D. Harris, Joyce C. Pheil, and Brad Faircloth in attendance. Others present were County Attorney Guy D. Pfeiffer, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Rev. Bobby Ward, Pastor of Riverview Baptist Church, gave the invocation, and Chairman Henry led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
After correction on page 2, motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to approve the minutes of the meeting of October 11, 2005, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
JEAN ROGERS REGARDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE DATA INTEGRATION
Jean Rogers, Clerk of Superior Court, came to give a brief update on the Crisp County Data Exchange Project. She advised that this project began as a joint venture among the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office, Cordele Police Department, Crisp County Magistrate Court, Clerk of Superior Court’s Office, Superior Court Judges of the Cordele Judicial Circuit, District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office of the Cordele Judicial Circuit, along with the state agencies of Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. The main purpose of the project is to electronically share information from the individual priority data sources of these agencies while allowing these agencies to maintain and retain control over their individual data base content. The goals of the project are to include the accuracy of the Criminal Justice records, improve the efficiency and speed of the criminal justice process by allowing each agency to maximize it’s resources to reduce the redundant and duplication of data entries, and to provide access to real time criminal justice data to control the jail population and to reduce any unnecessary delays in the court process. Included in the project is an electronic access to the jail list of the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office, and this list gives real time data to all the participates, and has saved the Sheriff’s Office the time and expense of preparing and distributing multiple copies of this list each week. The project is financed by an Edward Burn Grant thought the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council of Georgia, the original grant was for $75,000 with the required cash match of $25,000 provided equally by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council and the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council. On August 19th, this proof of concept was successfully presented to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and they began using the live data transfer since this date, and on September 28th the formal presentation was made, and they were extremely pleased with the number of state-wide visitors and local guests they had for that presentation. On October 21st, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council approved an additional $400,000 grant to add more information exchanges to the Crisp County System and to replicate the initial exchanges in Ben Hill, Dooly, and Wilcox Counties. This project has gained state-wide attention as being the first data exchange project among this many participates of the Criminal Justice System, and they have been asked to present a demonstration to the Georgia General Assembly. This project has been entered in the first annual Georgia County Excellence Awards Program sponsored by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, which is in partnership with Georgia Trend Magazine. The goal of this Award is to recognize innovative programs that make county governments more efficient and more effective, but most importantly the Awards Program will allow County Officials to share the best practices success stories with their counterparts across the state. She encouraged each Commissioner to visit their website, crispdx.org, and on behalf of all of the participates, she thanked Commissioners for their continued interest and support of this project. Chairman Henry and Commissioners congratulated Mrs. Rogers and all the participates in this project. Mrs. Roger stated that this project has far exceeded any of their expectations, and all of the participates have worked extremely hard to make it successful.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE THANKED COMMISSIONERS
Monica Simmons and Phil Streetman, Chamber of Commerce representatives, thanked the Commissioners for their support. Mr. Streetman presented an update of work that they lined out at the Retreat last year, and advised that most of the objectives have been accomplished. He touched on “Phil’s twelve at one”, where once a month they have invited a dozen people from our community from various businesses to come and sit down in a free-wheeling discussion, no set agenda, and tell them what is on their mind, what they are doing at the Chamber that is helping them, things that they can do; this has been very successful, and they have learned some things in this process. He stated that a number of things that they do at the Chamber could not be possible without the support of the County Commissioners, and they thanked them for this. Mrs. Simmons echoed Mr. Streetman’s comments. She stated that they have heard from the Signature Community Grant, we did not win, but they said we came in close to the top, and we will apply again. She advised that they are going to try to implement what they put in that plan, and they will be getting with them later on about these projects. Chairman and Commissioners thanked the Chamber and Mrs. Simmons and Mr. Streetman for all they do for our community.
DCUTS REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
Susan Arnett, newly appointed Executive Director for DCUTS, and Ryan Kelley met with Commissioners for assistance in their request. Mrs. Arnett thanked Commissioners for their support with DCUTS, and came to let them know where they stand financially, and what their plans are for the future. She stated that their Board met recently and at this meeting, some changes were voted in: 1) to reduce their fleet size, 2) to consolidate to one location, and 3) to reduce their standard overhead. By reducing their overhead will mean about $650 a month. She went over the revenue and expenses, and advised that they have a good bit of revenue that is owed to them from the state. They have received an Empowerment Zone Grant, and they have remaining on that Grant, $32,028.51, and they have drawn this down and used it. She advised that now it is taking approximately $120,000 a year to operate the system here in Crisp County alone, and on a six month period, there was $58,860 and revenues in the amount of $48,216 leaving a deficit of $10,644, and without the Empowerment Zone Grant, they would not be able to operate as this is how they covered their deficit. She advised that now the county provides office rent, vehicle insurance, and the use of the county fuel system. Total operating expense for both counties for a six month period was $l52,000 and total revenue was $98,114, with total operating deficit of $53,889, and again this was covered by the Empowerment Zone Grant. She advised that in order for DCUTS to survive, they are going to have to reduce their standard overhead meaning they can eliminate three phone lines and radios, reduce the van fleet, reduce communications equipment, and reduce employees. They think this will reduce operating costs by $7687.30 per month or $92,248 per year if this plan is put in place. Currently Crisp County has three vans, and they would like to reduce this down to two, but they would keep the van and rotate the van usage. She assured Commissioners that the services will still be provided as before, and she is asking Commissioners to consider consolidating down to one office location, leave the drivers here in Crisp County, and to take one van off the road in Crisp County, but alternate the vans as she had suggested. She stated that the reason they have to scale back is because their has been a decrease in the DHR contracts because of the decrease in participation. Mrs. Pheil stated that when she goes off to conventions, other counties are envious of what we have here with DCUTS. Chairman Henry advised Mrs. Arnett to get with Administrator Crapse when he gets back in town, to pursue her request.
INTERIM AG AGENT SUPPORT FOR CRISP COUNTY
Chuck Ellis, County Agent for Dooly County, reported that Tony Roberts, District Manager, and Ken Lewis, former Ag Agent anc Coordinator for Crisp County, has made the arrangement for him to serve as the Interim Ag Agent in Crisp County until the position can be filled. He advised that in talking with Mr. Lewis, who had worked this out with Administrator Crapse, that since it will not be a long distance call to Dooly County, that farmers in Crisp County would be instructed to call him if they needed assistance, and if a visit to Crisp County was necessary, then he would make visits as needed. He plans all the farmers educational meetings for the first of the year, and he will include the Crisp County farmer list with any newsletters or announcements that he sends out in Dooly County, and hopefully they will have a replacement for Mr. Lewis by March 1, 2006. Commissioners advised that they appreciate Mr. Ellis doing this for our county and especially for our farmers. Chairman Henry advised that we have an excellent Ag heritage here, and we are going to expect to have an outstanding Ag person with good experience and enthusiasm to continue working with our farmers like Ken Lewis has done for so many years, and they appreciate Mr. Ellis helping them in the interim.
DOT/FAA AGREEMENT ON CONSTRUCTION ON NEW T-HANGER AT THE AIRPORT
Mrs. Leverett advised that the County has been approved for a FY2006 General Aviation Entitlement Grant for $150,000 for the construction of six individual T-Hangers. These funds represent 95% of federal participation, the money will be available around March, 2006, and Mr. Pfeiffer has prepared the Resolution authorizing the execution of the necessary documents. Mr. Cooper, Manager of the Crisp County Airport, advised that this grant is to construct six closed T-Hangers, which will have doors for the individual aircraft owners, 95% federal funded, 2.5% state funded, and our part will only be 2.5%, which will come from SPLOST funds. Mr. Cooper advised that this type of grant will be the first in the state of Georgia, and will be for private individuals to rent for their use. Commissioners thanked Mr. Cooper for the excellent job he does managing the airport. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution authorizing consent for state sponsorship and acceptance of the FY06 General Aviation Entitlement Grant and for other matters, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
RESPONSE TO CITY OF ARABI FIRE PROPOSAL
Chairman Henry advised that in October the County received a proposal from the Town of Arabi regarding the Contract for Fire Services, this was discussed at the October work session and the Board asked the County Administrator to prepare a response, he has done this and is included in their package, and asked if all the Commissioners had a chance to read this. Mrs. Leverett read the proposal that was prepared from the County. Mrs. Pheil advised that since the City of Arabi residents are her constituents, she wanted them to know that the request came from the Arabi City Council that County Commissioners charge the Arabi residents taxes the same as we do in the unincorporated area of the county, in effect they were asking her to raise the taxes for the citizens of Arabi. She doesn’t think it is her job to tell them how to do their business, and she thinks it is Arabi Board’s obligation to their citizens as to how they are going to provide services to them. She has a problem of changing how we treat our municipalities, and telling the citizens of Arabi that the County is going to raise their taxes. Mr. Faircloth supports this letter also, because he believes we have a precedent in how we deal with municipalities and we need to follow that precedent. Mr. Harris agrees but says this is out of his district. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to approve the signing of the response regarding fire service in the Town of Arabi, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
RESOLUTION TO AMEND, RESTATE & ADOPT THE UPDATED ACCG DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION PLAN
Mrs. Leverett advised that Commissioners have in their packet the Defined Benefit Plan proposal, which has been updated to include a 1.25% benefit formula and a thirty year out, with no reduction. Both of the changes will be effective January 1, 2006, and the annual cost of the changes have been estimated to be around $117,000. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to adopt the Resolution to Amend, Restate & Adopt the Current ACCG Defined Benefit Pension Plan and adopt the Updated ACCG Defined Benefit Pension Plan, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
POLICY ON WORKER’S COMPENSATION PAYMENTS
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to table the decision on the worker’s compensation payments until they can get an answer from the labor attorney, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
JOB CLASSIFICATION/COMPENSATION STUDY
Mrs. Leverett reported that the Commissioners have been discussing the idea of adopting a job classification and compensation plan for some time. She introduced Chip King, who is with The Archer Company. Mr. King advised that undertaking a study like this is very important, particularly in the public sector where there is a higher degree of scrutiny in terms of decisions that are made and there is no bigger resource that you have than your employees. He advised that it is important to have a structure in your pay plan that will strengthen your position from a competitive standpoint, but that also shores up any concerns and issues you have internally to the organization, in terms of fairness, objectivity, and it helps position you to focus on eliminating other areas that could be discriminatory in practice or leads you down other illegal paths as well. Having a structure like this in place is going do several things; 1) gives management some key direction to make sound decisions on pay, 2) gives good documentation on job duties and responsibilities, and 3) working with management and the Board of Commissioners to make sure that moving forward, Crisp County is in a good position with regard to its’ employees and its’ competitive package per pay. He advised that they do this type of work all over the country, heavily in Georgia, and he will be the person primarily working with the management here to make sure they get the product that they need. Mrs. Pheil thanked Mrs. Leverett and Administrator Crapse for their hard work in finding this company, and she has personally wanted this for a long time. He advised that they can start fairly soon with the study, and they are aiming that moving into next year’s budget, they will have some good information to work with. Mrs. Leverett advised that the money is budgeted for the survey, and stated that the Constitutional Officers are not included in the 100 count, but Administrator Crapse will talk to them after the contract is signed. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to accept the proposal from The Archer Company in the amount of $25,190 to conduct a job classification and compensation study, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
REQUEST FOR FREEPORT EXEMPTION
Paul Melcher, Michael Higgins, and Doug Savage, met with Commissioners to request Freeport exemption for CrispAir. Mrs. Leverett advised that Commissioners have a letter in their packet from Mr. Savage stating that the 2005 tax notice on account # 25332999 did not reflect the numbers that they thought were reported on their 2005 property return. Mr. Savage reported that when CrispAir received the 2005 property tax bill this year, there was a $50,000 increase in the previous year; what they filed on their personal property return would not reflect that type of increase, so they knew there was a problem. He then called the Board of Assessors and spoke with Linda Smithart to find out what the situation was, she advised him that they did not receive a 2005 property tax return for CrispAir, so they put an arbitrary assessment on the property and that is where the increase came from. He advised her that they did file a return in February of 2005, and she advised that they never received it. He has a copy of the personal property return and the Freeport exemption that was filed attached to his letter, and they are asking that the Board review this taxpayers history. They have been in business in this county since the early 1970's, they employ approximately 200 employees, they have always paid their taxes on time, and they have always rendered their returns on time, and they in no way were they maliciously trying to avoid taxation. Tim Quick, Chief Tax Assessor, reported that they did not receive the 2005 return, according to the copies that they sent them, it looks like they were sent on February 11, 2005, but they did not received them. He stated that they sent out the assessment notices on April 22, 2005; on this notice it shows the previous year value that they had been assessed, shows what they were going to assess them at for 2005, and also there was a note on the bottom of this notice, which is required by law, to tell them why they were getting this notice--because no return was filed. As far as the Freeport exemption, he explained what the law requires the Board of Assessors to do if a return is received before April 1st and after June 1st, the Board of Assessors has no authority to grant any extensions or to relieve any penalties. Ms. Smithart mentioned to Mr. Savage that if there were any relief forthcoming, it would have to come from the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Quick advised that he can’t tell them that a return was filed, he does have a copy of one that was dated timely, however they did not receive one, and they did send out an assessment notice, which should have flagged that they hadn’t received their return. Mr. Faircloth asked how this affected our figures for the budget, and Mr. Quick advised that when he gave Mrs. Leverett the preliminary figures, he mentioned that there were three or four accounts that had filed for Freeport in the past that had not filled for 2005. Mrs. Leverett advised that they made allowances for about 50%. Mr. Savage thanked Commissioners and the Board of Assessors for their willingness to work with them, and asked that they consider this situation, and look at their history as this is an isolated incident. Mr. Melcher apologized for having to put Commissioners in this situation, and appreciates any consideration that they could give them. Mr. Higgins echoed this comment. Mrs. Pheil asked if they got the letter that the Tax Assessor’s mailed on April 22nd, and Mr. Savage stated that they are still baffled as to where that original assessment went. Mr. Pfeiffer asked if the return has ever been filed with the Board of Assessors, and Mr. Quick advised that they received a copy of the reporting form on October 11, 2005. Mr. Pfeiffer advised that Commissioners need something under oath declaring what was the actual inventory, actual property, and what they actually contended was there, because while the Board of Commissioners, under one provision of the code, grant relief to taxpayers for taxes which have been collected but should not have been, they can’t change the tax laws, and he advised that he will research this question and have an answer to them by the December meeting. Before this Commission can make any decision in this matter, they need something filed in the Tax Office which states under oath what they contend they actually have there, in other words an actual return, an actual request for the exemption, and a declaration as to the basis for the exemption. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to table this request until Mr. Pfeiffer can look into this further, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
EMPLOYEE CHRISTMAS BONUS
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve issuance of employees Christmas Bonus as budgeted to be given out on November 23, 2005, same as in year’s past, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported that this month’s Executive Summary includes the monthly and fiscal year to date balances of revenues and expenditures for the period ending October 31, 2005. For the General Fund, Oct-ober revenues received were $1,023,609 bringing the fiscal year to date total to $2,958,758 or 22.43% of annual budget. Expenditures for the month were $837,782 and $3,635,630 year to date, which is 27.56% of budget. Expenditures continue to exceed revenues year to date by a little over 5%. She fully expects Ad valorem tax revenue receipts over the next two months to turn these numbers around. The Landfill Fund finished the month of October with a year to date net loss of $191,252 including the $77,979 in depreciation expense. The Water Fund finished the month with a year to date net loss of $29,851, including $68,988 in depreciation expense. The total tonnage received by the Landfill for the month of October was 3785.80 with Onyx‘s commercial waste account making up about 49% of that or 1845 tons. This month’s tonnage brings the year to date total to 15,866.78. That is 32% higher than the 12,003.92 tons received for the first four months of last fiscal year. We are showing improvement but we are still considerably short of the 300 tons per day needed to bring our revenues up high enough to meet the financial assurance ratio required by EPD. (3862.86 over 10/04…300 tons/day w/b 24000.00 tons.) The total Water usage recorded for the month of September was 6,452,000 gallons. As of October 31, 2005, we had cash on hand of $4.7 million in the General Fund, $1.6 million in the Landfill Fund, $253,000 in the Revolving Loan Fund, $3.3 million in the SPLOST Fund and $551,000 in the Water Fund for a County Wide Total of about $10.6 million. Of that $10.6 million, $137,695 is reserved for debt service and $3.3 million designated for capital projects. On the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund report, since your last report we have two new loans on the schedule, the first being $270,000 to Dr. Peter Donnan and the second being a draw of $79,620 on the $250,000 loan approved for the IDA. That brings the number of open loans up to eight with a total outstanding balance of $1,465,580. All are current except Verrick, Circle J, and Walker Vault. We were able to pick up a check from Verrick in the amount of $9,561 on Friday which brings them within one payment of current under the revised terms. There has been no payment activity since last month on Walker Vault or Circle J. Next is the SPLOST budget to actual by category summary report. 56 of the 60 months included in this issue have been received for a total of $16,246,534, and as of October 31st, disbursements totaled $12,435,096. The current monthly average is $290,116. This report also includes the advancements made on the 2006 SPLOST Issue to date. To date, we have advanced the City of Cordele $139,014 on their Water Tank Project and we have spent $124 on the new Spec Building Project and $2,887 on the Judicial Center Project. Following that is the monthly detail listing of all the SPLOST Fund expenditures. October was a big month for SPLOST Checks with disbursements totaling $962,907. Of that amount $786,000 was spent on the Airport Runway Project. $711,000 of that will be reimbursed through a DOT Grant. Other expenditures included $105,575 for the City of Cordele Flow Pond Project, $44,676 for new vehicles and related equipment for the Sheriff’s department, $16,272 on the Newtown Streets project, $11,208 was advanced on the City’s Water Tank Project, and $10,248 on the on the DMV remodeling project. The last report in your summary is the budget to actual revenues by fund and expenditures by department as of October 31, 2005. Each department should be within 33% of their annual allowances. Overall the General and Landfill Fund Expenditures are at 28% and the Water Fund is at 29%.
NEW SPLOST REQUEST APPROVED & EZ GRANT AWARDED
Mrs. Leverett reported that Administrator Crapse has approved two additional new SPLOST requests for October, one is for the Town of Arabi in the amount of $1,374 for a new computer, and the other one was for $20,200 to the Sheriff’s Department for a 2006 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor vehicle. We have also been approved for a EZ Grant in the amount of $104,000 for the Northside Water and Sewer Project, that amount was the shortfall on the purchase of the water system, so with this Grant and the $20,000 each from the City of Cordele and County, we will be able to purchase the existing water system as part of that project.
FY 2005 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
Mrs. Leverett advised that included in their packets are the final Budget Adjustments for Fiscal Year 2005. The first page includes a summary showing the net adjustments needed by fund. The General Fund needs a net budget increase of $486,879. Some of this is “accounting housekeeping” to keep our end of year variances in line with our actual numbers but most of it is due to unbudgeted grant activity, all of which was offset by matching revenues. The SPLOST Fund budget for the year should be reduced by $228,300. This does not change the 5 year budget, only the dollars disbursed from July 2004 to June 2005. The Landfill budget needs a net reduction of $383,050, the CDBG Fund a net reduction of $1,978 and the Law Library an increase of $4,000. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the fiscal year 2005 budget adjustments as listed by category within departments, seconded by Mrs. Pheil, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE DOT REQUEST TO BRING A REDUCED SPEED AREA INTO COMPLIANCE
Mrs. Leverett advised that we have received a letter from DOT stating that because of the limited sight distance along the area of Farmers Market Road and the I-75 interchange, the speed limit needs to be reduced to 45 mph. In order to make a change to an existing speed limit and continue the use of radar in our county, the entire list of roadways and speed limits approved for use of speed detective devices must be amended. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to authorize the Chairman and the Board to approve and sign the list of roadways for Crisp County for the use of speed detection devices, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE RESOLUTION FOR INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT FOR PATEVILLE ROAD
Mr. Pfeiffer reported that he has prepared a Resolution for an Intergovernmental Agreement for improvement of Pateville Road north of Hwy. 300. He advised that there is a One Georgia Grant for $244,751. 10 that the County has applied for and received as a county road project to help pay for this. In one of the more recent annexations when the Industrial Park was built, the City annexed the roadway, and he understands at their meeting last week, the City authorized in principle the County building the road, so this is a Resolution authorizing a contract among The Development Authority, the County, and the City allowing for the improvement of Pateville Road as a county project, and that when complete, the city will then accept. The principle provisions are that any expenses that the county is not reimbursed for will come from the 2006 Industrial Development SPLOST allocation, and it describes what the state has approved in terms of the building of three lanes, base, stripping and grass, shifting the center line, and extending or replacing all the drainage structures, and the construction of two deceleration lanes. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to authorize the signing of the Resolution with Crisp County-Cordele IDC and the City of Cordele for improvement of a portion of Pateville Road, and authorizes the county’s request form to be duly executed by appropriate county officials, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
CONTRACT WITH SHERIFF & TOWN OF ARABI
Mr. Pfeiffer advised Commissioners that for information, they have a contract between the Sheriff and the Town of Arabi, and that he anticipates this to be signed by the December meeting. The Sheriff cannot enter into a contract without the county’s consent, so he will get the signatories for Commissioners meeting in December.
CHARACTER TRAIT FOR THE MONTH
Mrs. Leverett advised that the Character Trait for the month is loyalty--sticking by a friend through good times and bad times, faithful to a person, a team, or your country. She also advised that the Veterans Monument dedication and ribbon cutting will be at 3:00 Saturday, Nov. 12th, at the Georgia Memorial State Park, and on Thursday, Nov. 10th, will be the Hatley Fire Station Groundbreaking.
COUNTY ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Chairman Henry advised that this is a happy moment and an unhappy moment, our County Attorney Pete Pfeiffer has announced his retirement from practice on December 31, 2005, we are both happy for him and unhappy that he is going to leave us, and thank him for his hard work and commitment to our county. Mr. Pfeiffer advised that he will continue as the Chief Magistrate, he stated it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to serve this Board and through this Board the people of Crisp County. Commissioners all wished him well and thanked him for what he has done for our county.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to go into Executive Session to discuss personnel, real estate, and potential litigation, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to adjourn the meeting at 12:37 p.m., seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.