MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
CALLED MEETING HELD ON JUNE 1, 2007
The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Chairman Ferrell Henry with Commissioners James D. Harris, Brad Faircloth, and William Culpepper. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, Jr., Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Mr. Faircloth gave the invocation.
DISCUSS COMMERCIAL WATER RATES
Administrator Crapse reported that last year we raised the individual water rates but didnít raised the commercial water rates, and now they are just $1 apart from the individual water rates. In doing some research, they found that both in the Cities of Cordele and Americus, the residential and commercial rates are essentially the same as ours, but we all differ in the hook up fees and the size of the meter. He thinks we are pretty much in line with our commercial rates, we have very few commercial customers anyway, and at this point, the amount of revenue that we would gain if we raised rates would be far overwhelmed by the negative press we would get. He recommended that the water rates stay the same.
DISCUSS JULY 4TH FIREWORKS, BURNING & WATER RESTRICTIONS
Administrator Crapse reported that the current water restrictions required from the state are minimal, and it appears that we wonít have to go into any further restrictions, although it may be imminent at some point. Many communities are taking an additional step to control water use and it is something that we need to consider. A lot of our water use comes directly from Lake Blackshear, and there have been no red flags raised yet. Some communities have cut out all outside watering, but this is just for Commissioners consideration whether they thought that we were in a position where we needed county water restrictions. He advised that according to the Forestry Commission, burning is totally out, with the exception of agricultural burning, and this brought up the 4th of July Fireworks. The Fire Chief has advised the Chamber of Commerce that the fireworks should not go forward unless the weather changes. He wants to abide by the desires of the Commission, but also the safety of the citizens of the community. After discussion, Commissioners will delay their decision until the regular meeting in June to see if the weather changes, or when we have to make a payment to the fireworks company. Administrator Crapse did advise that if the weather didnít change that they could consider having the fireworks on Labor Day weekend.
TAX REFUND Ė RON MILAM
Administrator Crapse reported that there have been errors in Ron Milanís tax assessment since 2003 because of an incorrect drawing on record. The Tax Assessorís office concurs with the mistake, but because the Tax Assessorís cannot authorize a refund since the taxes have already been paid, that is why it came to the Commissioners. By statue, the Commissioners can refund Mr. Milam taxes for the last three years based on this error. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to refund Ron Milamís taxes for three years on an incorrect assessment, seconded by Mr. Faircloth, motion carried unanimously.
TAX REFUND Ė WILLIAM PECE
Administrator Crapse reported that William Peceís property has been on the books at 2.21 acres ever since he bought it in 2001, and he only owns 1.16 acres; he did not notice the error until this yearís re-evaluation. This was an error in regards to the records, and he also has requested a refund of the taxes paid as a result of the error. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to refund William Peceís taxes for three years due to a records error, seconded by Mr. Faircloth, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS SETTING OF TAX ASSESSORíS TERMS FOR ADVERTISING
Administrator Crapse reported that three seats on the Board of Assessorís expire in 2007, and according to the statues there should not be a majority of the Board turning over in a single year. There is also a requirement to set term lengths by resolution of the Board. He has come up with several scenarios based on maintaining the six year terms for the Board of Assessors, plus he has plotted out two alternative solutions; one would convert to four year terms beginning in 2011 and they would be four and five year terms, and the other scenario would be to convert to four year terms to begin in 2009 with a couple of two year terms and a couple of four year terms. He advised that there are two other board members whose terms expire in 2010 and 2011 which would remain intact for their six years, and when those terms ran out, they will be reappointed for either the four year or six year terms, whichever terms the Commissioners choose. The Commissioners need to set their terms by Resolution, which has been a long-standing need, and also appoint three members coming up in July and August. Administrator Crapse will review this some more and bring back to the regular Commissioners meeting in June.
JUDGE OF PROBATE COURT BUDGET REQUEST
Belinda Griffin, Probate Court Judge, came to discuss her budget. She advised that she has been working about three years to get her staff adequately compensated. She brought her report which showed how much their workload and fines generated have increased over the last several years. She had made a request in 2004 for salary increases for her staff and they did not get anything above the cost of living raise; the next year, she requested 5% for one girl and 10% for two girls, and one received a 2% raise and the other two received a 3.8% raise over the cost of living raise; last year the two lower paid girls received 1% and the other one nothing over the cost of living raise. This year she is asking for a 3% merit raise for one and 5% merit raise for the other two over the cost of living, and she thinks the workload they have justifies that. Chairman Henry thanked her for being here and advised that they would take her request under consideration.
PAY TRULUCK WATER APPRAISAL
Administrator Crapse reported that when we went into the water system in the Omar Heights and Meadow Park area, we were required by DCA to get an appraisal to pay for Mr. Truluckís wells. The original appraisal was for $68,000 for the Omar Heights well; we did not get the CDBG that year and the next year when we applied they said it had been so long since the first appraisal that we needed another appraisal. That appraisal came out at $61,000 over a year ago. Mr. Truluck called for his check, and when he was told that the check would be for $61,000, he said that was not what he had agreed to or expected to get. At that point they found out that after the re-appraisal was done, the RDC did not tell Mr. Truluck that the well had been reappraised and that the price had gone down, and also they didnít get another agreement with him for the lower appraisal, so right now we are still holding the option of the $68,000. They RDC did go to the county attorney, and got him to verify that if we have to condemn that property under these conditions, it would cost us more that the $7,000 difference, plus we are within days of being able to cut over that system, and we need the Board to approve payment of the original $68,000 to Truluck. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to approve payment of $68,000 to Mr. Truluck for the Omar Heights well, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
NORTHSIDE SEWER BID REVIEW
Administrator Crapse reported that they had the bid opening yesterday for the Northside Sewer Project; there were 10 bidders, the low bid was about $410,000 including the alternative, and the next low bid was around $451,000. There was some discussion after the low bid from Southern Allied that the company had changed names several times over the last few years, but there was a bid bond provided with the bid. Also, all the other bidders acknowledged the addendum regarding the pump, but the lowest bidder did not; he thinks it should not reflect on the price, though. He advised that the engineer will confirm if Southern Allied did or did not get the addendum. The reason this was necessary is there was a pump manufacturer that challenged the contract because it specified only one brand name pump, and it should never had been put out like that anyway. He stated that this project, based on the bids, will come in quite reasonably, and we should have about a $50,000 cushion on this bid price versus the money on hand. The engineer will check out the two lowest bidders, and he will provide a letter of recommendation to the Commissioners, and then it will be up to the Commissioners to decide whether to accept or not.
BOARD OF ASSESSORíS BUDGET REQUEST
Tim Quick, Chief Tax Appraiser, and the Board of Assessorsí met with the Commissioners to discuss their budget. Robert Powell, Assessor, stated that they appreciate Commissioners giving them a chance to go over some of the items on the budget that they feel fairly strongly about and that they think need to be included. One thing is the salaries of their employees, and they think their employees are ranking on the bottom end of the employees of the county. That is a concern for them for what they have to do plus three of their employees were even below the minimum on the Archer Company Survey that Commissioners had done last year. They did ask for reconsideration of some type of merit increase to at least bring those people within the minimum limits of the survey. Another item they think needs consideration is in legal, as they are involved in litigation now with WesCast, and the $3000 that was budgeted will probably not cover that. Administrator Crapse advised that if the legals went over, Commissioners are going to pay their bills, and that is why we have contingencies for things like this. Mr. Powell stated that they just didnít want to get their hands slapped if they were so far over budget in legal fees. He advised that there were several items in the Consultants category that they needed to talk about, one is with Traylor Business Services. Administrator Crapse advised that they have been struggling with this, before we thought we were losing money because the School Board and the City were getting part of the money. Now we have asked both of these Boards to address this matter. Also, after they had looked at it further, they do think it is a worthwhile program, and after talking with Mr. Quick yesterday, he did advise Mrs. Leverett to put that $50,000 project back in the budget. Mr. Powell said they also have some concerns with the digitalization of the maps, they have applied for a grant but havenít gotten it yet, and soon the maps will be out of date. It would help them in finding inconsistencies and it allows for uniformity, plus it allows the E-911 system to function properly along with help for several other departments and the public. Administrator Crapse reported that we have a grant in with the EZ to do the digitization county wide, and the county has budgeted the money for the match of the grant. The decision on the grant will be on June 16th, which is before we have to make a final budget decision. Mr. Faircloth advised that he thought we were already sold on the need and the benefits of this package, and Administrator Crapse advised that we are. Mr. Powell advised that they requested $3000 in telephone fees, they think they will be short here, and Mrs. Leverett reported that the data phone line should go down and also the cellular phones for all the county employees will be going down. Mr. Powell advised that they requested $6000 for postage and was only given $3000, and if they do a re-evaluation for next year like planned, a whole mailing will be over $4000 without any other mailing. Chairman Henry advised if they did have to do another re-evaluation and end up having to spend that much money, he feels sure Administrator Crapse would cover it in the budget. Mr. Powell stated that they think the $8600 on the travel is really at minimum as they already know who is going where this coming year. Administrator Crapse advised that they never have spent what was budgeted in years past. Mr. Powell stated that they are not sure about the cut from $3500 to $2500 in the gasoline budget as they donít know what is going to happen there, and Commissioners agreed, and advised that they hope Commissioners consider the salaries as really being important, and they strongly do the digitalization as it affects everybody.
APPROVE BUDGETS FOR DARE & DATEF FUNDS
Administrator Crapse reported that the Dare Fund and Drug Awareness Treatment Education Fund (DATEF) now needs to be kept in a separate fund for the FY-07 budget year, and we need to separate this for the auditors. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to approve the budgets for FY-07 for Dare Fund and DATEF Fund, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS EMS BUDGET REQUEST
Administrator Crapse reported that what we have put into the EMS budget is funding at last yearís level with the exception of an additional $135,000. They had asked the county to budget for loses that they expect to lose from this year and next year, and our position has always been that if we have that big of a shortfall in EMS, that is why we have a reserve fund.
DISCUSS BUDGET REQUESTS
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to make an exception to the countyís policy and honor the Tax Commissionerís request for a raise for her part-time employee, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to put a new truck in the budget to replace the explorer in the budget for Extension Service and wait until January of 2008 to purchase, seconded by Mr. Harris. After discussion, the motion and second was withdrawn with the consensus of the Commissioners that as soon as they can afford to, they will provide the Extension Service a vehicle and they would add $300 to the supplies in Extension Department. By common consent, Commissioners agreed to put in 5% merit raise for the two lowest paid employees and 3% for the other employee in the Probate Court.
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to adjourn the meeting at 1:49 p.m., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.