MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON OCTOBER 13, 2009
Chairman A. James Nance called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. with Commissioners James D. Harris, William Culpepper, and Wallace Mathis in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, County Attorney Rick Lawson, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Commissioner Culpepper gave the invocation, and Administrator Crapse led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Chairman Nance welcomed all in attendance.
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the minutes of the meeting of September 8, 2009, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE RED RIBBON WEEK PROCLAMATION
Monica Simmons, Executive Director of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, reported that Red Ribbon Week will be from October 23rd thru October 31st this year. They are working with the schools and community to get the word out to help make our community drug free. Administrator Crapse read the Proclamation calling attention to the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse on individuals, families, and communities. Mrs. Simmons invited everyone to the Red Ribbon Week kick-off celebration, which will be at Blackshear Trail Elementary School on October 22nd. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Red Ribbon Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
TABLE REQUEST FOR FUNDING FOR DARTON COLLEGE
Bob Evans, Monica Simmons, Bruce Drennan, and Steve Rentfrow came before the Board to discuss possible funding for Darton College in downtown Cordele. Mr. Evans advised that this has been a long undertaking; they are in the eighth year of funding Darton College in Cordele, they have over 300 students presently attending classes, and they are at capacity in their building in the Industrial Park. They have been working for the last 1 1/2 years to secure property in downtown Cordele, they now have a written option of donation of two-thirds of three blocks in downtown that will be revitalized into a downtown campus for Darton. He reported that they have applied for grant money to get the process started, and they are asking the county, city and the power commission to front the $16,000 for the cost of the master plan, or $5,333 each, which will engage a consultant to help them with the campus planning. He advised that the reason they are asking for this money is that if they have to wait until the grant is funded, which will be about June of next year, it will be nine months before they can get started on the master plan. They would like to go ahead with this, and they propose to pay back the city, county and power commission when the grant is received. He stated that they have raised over $900,000 in the last eight years, in which the county has been a part of that along with ten other entities in our community. He advised that from a competitive standpoint, our community has to compete; the University system Board of Regents has approved Cordele as permanent satellite, and our job is to secure the land, build the building and turn it over to them. Darton College will then maintain that building and operation going forward. Chairman Nance advised that this effort is great, the Board does support this, but at the time we have not budgeted this and we will look at it and see what we can do. Mr. Evans advised that they have a local family that wanted to put their name on a project here, and if they had bought the property that they looked at earlier, that would have been between $1.5 and $2 million just to acquire the property; now we have property donated that is going to be a huge cost savings. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to table this request of funding for Darton College, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING – SHORELINE DEVELOPMENT LLC
Chairman Nance reported that we will have a Public Hearing today, no decision will be made, and he then turned it over to Connie Sangster, Planning Director. She reported that we have a Public Hearing for the rezoning request from Shoreline Development LLC to rezone 20.54 acres of property from RS2 (Single Family Residential) to RS1 (Single Family Residential) for the purpose of establishing a Recreational Vehicle Park Campground. Property is located along Lakeshore Way and Old Coney Road, and no decision will be made today. The applicant has asked for a Class A Motor Coach Recreational Vehicle Park, and the meeting in November will be for a Special Use Permit to locate the RV Park Campground there. She advised at this Public Hearing they can voice their opinions and concerns but next month's Public Hearing will be for discussion of the RV Campground. Chairman Nance declared the Public Hearing open, and asked Sherrie Rinker, realtor, to tell everyone about her request. Mrs. Rinker advised that they have a developer that is ready to come to Crisp County and start a positive development as far as creating more homeowners, increase the tax base, and adding another attraction to our community. In order to zone the Class A Motor Coach Resort that they ultimately want, they have to have the RS1 zone with a Special Use, and they want the special conditions to comply with what they have submitted. She advised that it will not be a campground and only Class A vehicle owners will be allowed to purchase property in this resort. There will be documents in place to monitor this just like homeowners covenants in subdivisions. If this is passed, they will immediately start single-family construction of lots on the interior of the golf course as well as the remaining lots at the golf course. She feels that the more products the county has, it will increase our opportunity to draw more people to our county. She advised that some of the minimum requirements of Class A Motor Coach's are: they have to be 32 feet in length, they cannot be any older than 15 years old, the interior clearance has to be at least 6 feet, and the driver has to be in the coach. The people will buy the property and be property owners and tax payers in the county. She reported that the entire area will be masked with a berm and they are going to try to make it as green as possible inside and outside of the area. After she completed her proposal, Chairman Nance asked if anyone wanted to speak opposing the request. Cheryl Sallmen asked if the lots were permanent, how would that affect the residents who already live out there. Mrs. Rinker advised that she wouldn't think this would effect them any differently than someone buying a house, as the best estimate they have for pre-construction pricing will be starting at $80,000. She also advised that the developer is going to be building single-family houses in this area also. Carl Speroni, spokesman for Antioch Road and members of the Ironwood Golf Course, advised that they are opposed to this request because this property is a large investment in their lives and, at present, they have the strictest zoning for their type neighborhood in place; if the rezoning is granted, and should the present proposal fail, the door is wide-open to a KOA-type campground. They are concerned that the property values will remain the same as for the higher-end ad valorem tax bills, but the marketability of their homes would be diminished in the eyes of potential buyers because of the close proximity to the proposed coach village. Other concerns were the financial viability of a secret developer, and they feel that a performance bond should be required from the developer in the event an uncompleted or failed project. Sewage requirements, wetlands, and the proposed limited space are also a concern to them. They also feel there is a conflict between the Lake Blackshear Plantation HOA Covenant and with the proposed coach village with the homeowners association. Mr. Speroni also stated that at the time all the present homeowners purchased property, all marketing materials for lots in this area showed the new and proposed area as lots 68-93 with prices attached for homes. Wendy Peavy wanted an explanation of the size of lots going from RS2 to RS1 and what is the Special Use. Ms. Sangster advised that in order to operate a RV Park the zoning has to be RS1, and that is the Special Use Permit as a RV Campground is not permitted in the RS2 zone. Mrs. Peavy asked if each person that buys one of these spots is going to be required to build a building, and Mrs. Rinker stated that the developer hasn't decided if they are going to build one on every lot yet. She advised that the $80,000 price is just the pad and once the coach house is added on the lots, it will be $15-$20,000 more. She advised that they could have the covenant for this area ready by the November meeting, and they would welcome that this covenant be added to the stipulations of the Special Use Permit, as they do not want to lower the standards in this area. Buddy Lewis advised that his lot will be overlooking this area and the reason he bought his lot was because of the view, and he is opposed to this because he doesn't want to be looking at motor homes. He asked how tall the berms would be, and Mrs. Rinker advised that the berms would be 10-12 feet with vegetation on top. He also heard that in the past, a lot of things have been promised and none of them have come true yet. Mrs. Rinker advised that the new developer is Richmond Chandler, and he is forming a new company, Lake Blackshear Development Corporation. Mr. Lewis also asked why they didn't put this park on the edge of the property where the trees were instead of in the open sun, and Mrs. Rinker replied that this is the first property the developer is buying, and with the economy as it is, it's far easier and ready to go, and they will be putting in trees. Mr. Lewis is also worried about the sewage, and replied that he is not in favor of this request. Davis Atkins, spoke on behalf of the church, said some concerns he has is a fifteen year old motor home is about shot, having seven motor homes per acre on twenty acres is a lot of motor homes, he hasn't seen the development as has been presented in the past, and he is a little skeptic. He doesn't believe these lots will sell, and he is concerned about the sewer system out there and other problems that need to be addressed before they go forward. Mrs. Rinker stated that if we don't take a pro-active approach and try to let somebody that wants to come in here and do something positive and provide development in our community to help increase our tax base, we won't ever have anything. A lady asked if they could research the developer and see what he has done in the past. A man advised that when you change the zoning from RS2 to RS1 if the RV's doesn't work, you can put in manufactured homes, and if that doesn't work you can put in regular trailers, and if it doesn't work, it will leave it wide open to do whatever they want. Ms. Sangster advised that if Commissioners choose to approve the zoning, they can approve it contingent upon the plans that are presented and they can state that is the only thing that land can be used for. One lady said part of their concern is that this will open up and then it will be like Ironwood and nothing will happen, so if someone could do some research on other parks similar to this to see if it really is a viable plan. Robbie Woolbright stated that as a long-term resident of this community, what benefits is it going to give the residents in this area that are not part of the golf course. Jerry Miller stated he lives directly across from the proposed area, and his concern is when he walks out his driveway, he will look at a ten-foot mountain, plus nobody has mentioned the traffic it will generate, and he is opposed to the request. Mrs. Rinker advised that the sale of all the interior property will be contingent upon the development of the 20 acres, and it will add to the county's tax base. Ms. Sangster reminded everyone that on November 10th we will have the Public Hearing in reference to the RV Park. There were no other questions, so Chairman Nance closed the Public Hearing and thanked all for their interest in this request and for being at the meeting.
RESOLUTION HONORING PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL
Monica Simmons stated that they have been sponsoring a Public Safety Appreciation Dinner for a good many years, and this year they wanted to do a Resolution Honoring Public Safety Personnel. They wanted to show the public safety personnel how much they are appreciated in the community for what they do for us every day. They will also have a dinner again this year, which will be on October 22nd. Administrator Crapse read the Resolution Honoring Public Safety Personnel who risk their lives to provide emergency services and make communities stronger, make a safer place to live, and declared October 19, 2009 as Public Safety Appreciation Day in Crisp County. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution Honoring Public Safety Personnel, seconded by Mr. Mathis, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported that we are through the first quarter of FY 2010, and for the month of September in the General Fund we are reporting $579,209 in monthly and $1,424,950 in year to date revenues. On the expenditure side, we had $1,220,749 in monthly and $3,297,087 year to date. Those numbers leave the General Fund at a net loss at September 30th of $1,872,137. That number is up about $275,000 over this same time last year. We continue to rely on cash reserves to get us through this “dry” season. We have seen a significant drop in those reserves in the past six months, about $2,000,000. Some of that used to cover the shortfall (about $600,000) on FY 2009 revenues, some used to cover shortages and lag time on our current years revenues and some has been loaned to the SPLOST Fund. It is absolutely vital that we remain in a “necessary and/or essential” mode on purchasing until we start collecting ad valorem tax revenue. In the Landfill, for September monthly revenues were $119,718, year to date $329,174. Monthly Expenses were $98,853, YTD $254,141, leaving the landfill fund with a net gain at 9/30/09 of $75,033. This is up about $85,000 over the first quarter of FY 2008. The total tonnage received for the month of July was 3,374.94, exactly one ton more than the previous month. 47% of that was delivered on the Veolia commercial contract and 15% on the Veolia/City of Cordele residential contract. This month's tonnage is down about 513 tons from September 2008 and our year to date average remains about 100 tons less than the FY 2009 final YTD. The principal balance on the GEFA Loans is current at $3.356,235. For the Water Fund, monthly revenue was $36,919, YTD $113,061. Monthly expenses $32,526, YTD $98,284, leaving the water fund with a net gain at 9/30/09 of $14,777, up about $2,000 over this same window of FY 2008. Water usage for this months billing was 6,723,000 gallons and the USDA bonds are current at just under $1.7 million. Cash on hand at September 30th shows the General Fund at $3,151,005, the Landfill Fund, $2,393,466, the revolving loan fund $189,479, the SPLOST Funds, $1,631,042, and the Water Fund ended the month with $1,017,382 leaving us with a county wide total at 9/30/09 of $8,382,374. This is down considerably over this time last year….about $7,000,000. Most of that, about $6 million represents a decrease in the SPLOST Funds, but almost $2 million is a drop in our General Fund. In the budget to actual report for 2000 SPLOST Issue, as of September 30, 2009, we have spent $15.8 million of the $17.6 million dollars collected, leaving us with just under $1.8 million to complete the various City and County projects associated with this issue. Over 1/2 of that remaining balance is designated for County Roads. In the SPLOST budget to actual for the 2005 Issue, September's #44, representing primarily August retail sales of $329,397, although down about $200 from last month, it was up about $7,000 over September 2008. Our Issue to date average dropped another $650, down to $357,355. Again this average is very close to dropping below the threshold that will provide the funds necessary to complete all the projects budgeted under this issue. In the monthly detail listing of all the SPLOST Fund expenditures for both issues, expenditures totaled $165,848 for the month of September, with the largest chunk of that going to the new Courthouse, $157,544. Remaining projects benefiting from SPLOST funds were Pateville Road and the Airport. For the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund monthly report, which includes the balance and status of all our CDBG Revolving Loan Fund Accounts as of September 30, 2009, we remain with 10 outstanding loans for a total balance due of $2,171,116. Unfortunately, it seems that the economy is driving more of them into the delinquent column. Because we have discovered some system problems that are causing errors on the budget to actual reports, I have not included them in this packet for you today. Hopefully, our software vendor will have this corrected by the end of the week. I will run those reports and place them in your boxes.
APPROVE STACK BUNKS FOR JAIL
Administrator Crapse reported that we have a request for additional funds for stack bunks for the jail by the Sheriff's Office for $5,600; the reason for this is we have a 168 person jail and average 210 detainees a day. The Sheriff's Office, and he concurs, that $5,600 is cheaper than a lawsuit. It is an unbudgeted item, but the Sheriff's Office said they would try to fund this expense in their supplies budget, but also with a population of 210, the amount of supplies that they consume, this will probably not be able to happen. He advised that he would have to recommend approval of the $5,600 for the beds, and if it can't come out of their supplies, we will take it out of contingency. Motion was made by Mr. Mathis to approve the purchase of stack bunks for the jail at $5,600 coming out of the Jail supplies if possible, and if not to take it out of contingency, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR FEDERAL GRANT CLOSEOUTS
Administrator Crapse reported that we have been having a running battle with the Department of Justice over a grant back in 2004 that was administered by the Sheriff's Office. Apparently some of the reports weren't submitted on time, and as a result they held some of our funding, and they still have it because we hadn't properly closed out that grant. This resolution would implement these mandatory federal guidelines on accepting federal grant money. That will get our funds released and also receive future funds and grants, as we utilize several grants at the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office. He asked the Board to pass this Resolution so that we can more easily adapt to federal requirements and then provide them assurance that we will abide by the federal requirements in the future. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution Establishing Policy and Procedures For Federal Grant Closeouts, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS E-911 RADIO SYSTEM
Administrator Crapse reported that there are a combination of things that have been presented regarding the E-911 radio system, and he is not sure of where we are, but it is going to be about $200,000 a year for the circuit to support the new radio system. He has a quote on the system that would replace this, and it is in two parts, and basically there is a link from Crisp County to the Albany tower and the other is link from Crisp County 911 to the Crisp County tower. They total approximately $400,000 that would be paid over the course of seven years, which would be about $50,000 a year as opposed to $200,000 a year. This is not good news, as earlier we were talking of about $10-$12,000 a year, but there are some options that we may be able to do cheaper locally with our own fiber by the Power Commission. He just wanted to let them know what we may have in store financially, and Chief Ray Lunsford is working on this.
DISCUSS LETTER FROM DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
Administrator Crapse reported that he has received a letter from the Department of Revenue advising that they have determined that the Board of Assessors 2008 Tag Digest was 31.81%, which deviates from the proper assessment ratio of 40%, so additional state tax in the amount of $21,349 is being assessed against the county governing authority. He advised that we will be appealing this but this again is money that we have not budgeted. He stated that the Tax Digest is supposed to be maintained at 40% of assessed value, and there is a window that runs from about 36 to 44%, and if you get out of that window, then the state penalizes you. He stated that he didn't know how this was going to effect the county because the rules have now changed as there is a state law that says that assessments are frozen for two years, you can increase the value but you can't tax for it. He advised that we will have to wait and see what happens regarding this, he wanted them to be aware of it.
Administrator Crapse reported that 1) he attended several meetings and events last month; 2) The Courthouse project continues to work down the “punch list”. Final completion has still not been reached. Landscaping is progressing with difficulty. Security work continues, as do some final wiring changes. Move-in begins this week with preliminary items, and on October 19th for the main move. The plaque for the inside the Courthouse is still due in, Logo on the Marquis Sign is up; 3) There were no new SPLOST Purchases approved this month; 4) We have several challenges (much more rock to remove than projected) on the Landfill Cell Construction, but fortunately we have been able to adjust on the go and keep things within budget. We may have a short completion delay on the C&D Cell, but that is not a major impact; 5) Work on the “Go Fish Georgia” Boat Ramps at the State Park hold pending a review of the plans to avoid contact with the buildings and major trees that would be consumed by the parking lot in the original plans; 6) The Amboy Road at Lime Creek remains closed for the bridge replacement over Lime Creek; and 7) Community of Character Trait for the Month of October is CITIZENSHIP. Following the Rules. Demonstrating your rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States of America.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to go into Executive Session to discuss potential litigation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Mathis to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
USE GUIDELINE REGARDING POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR FEDERAL GRANTS
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to use the guideline that Mrs. Leverett has regarding policy and procedures for federal grants and authorize the Chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
EXPRESS SYMPATHY TO MS. FINCH AND MR. CULPEPPER
Motion was made by Mr. Mathis that Commissioners express their sympathy to Linda Finch in the loss of her mother, and to William Culpepper in the loss of his grandmother, Lois Culpepper, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to adjourn the meeting at 11:50 a.m., seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.