MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON MARCH 8, 2011
Chairman Wallace Mathis called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m., with Commissioners James D. Harris, A. James Nance, William Culpepper, and Clark Henderson in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, Jr., County Attorney Rick Lawson, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Mr. Nance gave the invocation, and Administrator Crapse led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Chairman Mathis welcomed all in attendance.
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the minutes of the meeting of February 8, 2011, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS WILCOX COUNTY EMS AGREEMENT
Steve Gautney, Administrator of Crisp Regional Hospital, and David Edwards, Director of Crisp County Emergency Management Services, met with Commissioners to discuss the Wilcox County EMS Agreement. Mr. Gautney thanked the Commission for inviting them, and advised that he has been the Administrator here for a little over four months, and it is a pleasure to be here and serve this community. He advised that Crisp has been blessed with a great hospital and leadership and is serving the community very well. He stated that they wanted to update the Commission regarding the Wilcox County Agreement. He stated that they were contacted by the Wilcox County Commission and asked to help them with their EMS services, and their proposal was to extend the management services from the EMS department at the hospital and manage the EMS operation of Wilcox County. We anticipate having about 1200 calls a year, and the cost of the operation of Wilcox County will be borne by the Wilcox County Commission. This is a situation where the professionalism and the quality that we have already seen at the department here, we can extend it to our neighbors in a way that will help the whole area, and there will be no additional cost to Crisp County residents; also, the service levels will not go down for Wilcox County residents as well. Mr. Edwards advised that the operation in Wilcox County will be operated like it is here, and they are in the process of interviewing and hiring new employees as all of the employees they had left and went elsewhere. He has have four employees that work here that live in Wilcox, so that made it a lot easier as far as getting around there, and he also hired two part-time employees that live in Wilcox to help get them through the crunch. Mr. Gautney started that when they were asked to intervene, they agreed to do it for 45 days and that period ended around the first of this month. Their Commissioners came back and stated that they would like to continue, and we intend to go forward with that unless there are any objections here. Mr. Edwards advised that Wilcox will maintain ownership of their vehicles, equipment, and their EMS license as in some point of time if they want to get back in the EMS business on their own, it will all be there except the personnel. Mr. Henderson stated that he appreciated what they did because Wilcox was facing having to go to an outside contractor. Mr. Nance asked under the old arrangement that Wilcox had, where did their patients go. Mr. Edwards stated that there were three places, Crisp Regional, Taylor Regional, and Dorminy in Fitzgerald, and the law says they have to take them wherever they want to go. Also there are some businesses that have contractual agreements with certain facilities and you honor those, but in a dire emergency, they are going to take them to the closest appropriate facility. He advised that most of the patients, through their own choice, come to Crisp Regional. Mr. Edwards publicly thanked all of his employees as they have gone above and beyond during those 45 days and continuing for a period of time until we get some staff hired, and this would not have worked without his employees, and he appreciates what they have done. He stated that by and large the citizens of Wilcox County have been very grateful and gracious to us, and they have had very minimal problems in the transition. Mr. Culpepper thanked them for coming as he has had a lot of people wanting to make sure that Crisp County people are going to be looked after, and he thinks they answered that today. Administrator Crapse advised that this really strengthens the Crisp Regional healthcare arena, and at the same time we are doing the best we can to help our neighbors. Chairman Mathis asked them to expand on a few things that have benefited the hospital and EMS. Mr. Gautney encouraged people to support the SPLOST vote as the hospital was the first SPLOST vote in the county, and it is a jewel of a hospital and a credit to the community. He stated that so many times sales tax gets put on the individuals and they go on forever and you lose site of what it is that you passed the sales for, and SPLOST allows you to pass a tax and you see the results of it and can move from project to project. Mr. Edwards advised that the EMS/E-911 building was in the second round of SPLOST and it buys their vehicles and equipment and without it would be pretty difficult times to fund those things. He appreciates what the Commissioners do for the hospital and the EMS, and as long as he has been here the Commissioners have always been supportive of both. Chairman Mathis thanked them for what they do also.
ADOPT AMERICAN RED CROSS PROCLAMATION
Administrator Crapse read the Proclamation Celebrating American Red Cross Month 2011, which states that the American Red Cross fulfills a unique and vital role in our community providing help and hope in emergencies and disaster and proclaiming March 2011 as American Red Cross Month. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to adopt the American Red Cross Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously. Chairman Mathis, on behalf of the Commissioners, stated that he appreciates the job that the Red Cross does.
APPROVE 5311 RURAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION APPLICATION
Administrator Crapse advised that it is time to renew the application for the 5311 Rural Public Transportation, Crisp Area Rural Transit. These funds are provided at basically 90% federal funds and 10% state funds to operate the rural transit. There are no differences in this application than in past years, one exhibit was dropped out, but other than that it is the same agreement that we have had from the inception of the program. We will also be following this up with an update of the contract with our provider; this is the fifth year of their contract, so we will be re-bidding that contract as required. Our current contractor provides the service to us supplemented by the state and federal government virtually free of charge. There is required to be a 5% local match on capital equipment, such as the buses, and they pay that 5% match, and the only thing the county pays is the insurance on the buses. This is a little over $500,000 benefit to the county each year, and he recommends the Board's approval of the application and the renewal contract for RMS Services to the county. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve the application and the renewal contract with RMS Services and authorize the Chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS SPLOST 2012 PROJECT
Mr. Henderson stated that the property tax payers in the county pay ad valorum tax, which is used to fund the debts; we receive benefits from the SPLOST, and you don't want to put that entire burden on the ad valorum taxpayers. When anybody stops off the interstate and gets gasoline, shops and stay in the motels, we as a community receive benefits from that. The new hospital was built as a result of SPLOST, and Darton College will be built as a result of SPLOST. He read a list of other things that SPLOST pays for and stated that money stays in this community. He urged the citizens of the county to say yes to the SPLOST vote. Mr. Nance stated that he is coming more from an educational approach as he was talking to a retired educator who went to a presentation, and they were told that if the SPLOST didn't pass, ad valorum taxes would go up 72%, that is not the case, but what he wants to talk about is the importance of our SPLOST; our airport, county buildings, EMS, fire, sheriff, recreation, and roads are utilized by SPLOST funds, and if we didn't have the SPLOST funds, the only way we can do things as the need arises is through ad valorum taxes. He urged the community to continue to support SPLOST as they have in the past so we can continue to move forward with Inland Port, an economic engine to create jobs for our community. Mr. Culpepper thanked the Chamber and their Citizens for Progress group that has been going out and speaking on behalf of SPLOST; there are some downsides if it doesn't pass and the benefits sure out way the downside. This is something in these times that we are going to need as about 60% of the tax revenue comes from outside the community, but the money stays here. In his area a lot of people are fussing about the dumpsters, and these SPLOST funds can help with fencing and cleaning up on our sanitation, along with helping other departments as well. SPLOST is a fair tax that everybody pays and everybody benefits from. Mr. Harris stated that he rides through Wal-Mart's parking lot to just look at tags, and there are a lot of out of town tags that pay and are bringing money into our county. Chairman Mathis stated that it took a long process when the Association County Commissioners of Georgia starting lobbying for this tax; people ask him if the city has any investment in these projects, and the city, county, and the Town of Arabi reap benefits from SPLOST. This tax was put into place to help counties fund things like equipment purchases that you are normally going to make and need to make and is a mechanism for funding without using ad valorum taxes. This is also a tax that we rely on for funding, without this the ad valorum taxes will go up, this is not a threat, it is a reality, so we encourage all of our people to go out and let get this SPLOST passed. Administrator Crapse reported that one thing that can hurt us is voter apathy as of close of business Friday there were only 270 people that had voted. He advised that just to support public safety alone, which is the first responsibility of the government, would take 2 mills of tax, which is a 20% increase in ad valorum tax. He is not saying if it didn't pass taxes would go up 2 miles, obviously there could be some services cut too, but it would be very difficult to move forward and keep going where we need to go, especially considering the two signature projects that are on the ballot, Darton College and Cordele Inland Port. A yes vote for SPLOST is a vote to keep us moving forward in this county, put us in a position to get more jobs, better education, improve our workforce, and provide for those necessities that the county must have.
APPROVE TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT ACT PROJECT PROPOSAL
Administrator Crapse reported that there is a letter and the proposed projects in their packet regarding the Transportation Investment Act Project that has to be into our Regional Commission by March 30th. These are projects that support the state ordered regional sales tax that will come up next year. Each of the 16 counties and 50 municipalities has to submit a list of projects they want to do to support the regional transportation. The criteria for submitting these projects are they must support economic growth and competitiveness, must insure safety and security, must get the most out of the existing road network, must be the best value for the taxpayers dollars, must improve the regional transportation network, must be delivered on time and on budget, must receive public support, must improve regional mobility, must focus on deliverability, must come from existing plans or studies, must be included in some transportation study or in local comprehensive plans, and must encourage effective multi modal solutions. This is why most of the things we are talking about will be in support of the Cordele Intermodel Center and transportation into and out of that center. There are eight projects, but they only have seven as the other one is the Lake Blackshear Bridge, which they haven't completed yet because it is so complex and costly. He advised that this tax will bring in about $53 million the first year for the region. It will be the Regional Roundtable that will take all the projects submitted and stuff them into the amount of dollars that are available, they will then present it to the full committee, then it will go to the state for final approval, and those projects will be on the list that the state sends back with the appropriate dollars. The first project is basically to four-lane US Highway 280 from GA Hwy 300 Connector to the Lake Blackshear bridge; that project alone is estimated to be $37 million plus. This will help increase the mobility between Columbus, Albany, and Macon MSA's, particularly for the local communities along this road and bring a better route to north/south traffic in and out of the port if they want to go onto I-75 or GA Hwy. 300. The remaining projects, with no preference of the projects, are 2) to four-lane US Highway 41 North from Drayton Lane to Crisp County/Dooly County Line and would help increase widening the existing two lanes to four lanes; 3) to extend the Hwy. 300 Extension, which is the road that comes off of Ga. 300 at I-75 and goes to Hwy. 90, will four-lane that portion and turn and follow GA Hwy. 90 up to US Hwy. 280; 4) to resurface the GA Hwy. 300 Connector between US Hwy. 280 and GA Hwy. 300, this project may come off as Johnny Floyd has told us there is dollars in the state district maintenance budget to do this resurfacing; 5) pave Crossroad Store Road between the GA Hwy. 300 Connector and GA Hwy. 300, which is the only unpaved section that is on that road, and is a good route from US Hwy. 280 all the way over to I-75. This is not a state route and not on the state plan but it is in our Comprehensive Plan; 6) four-lane Farmers Market Road from US Hwy. 41 to Penia Road, it was identified and recommended by the Multi-County Transportation Study that was done by DOT a couple of years ago; 7) a separate project to improve the intersection at Farmers Market Road and GA Hwy. 257, to align that property due to the high accident and fatalities on that intersection, and 8) the additional two-lanes of bridge over Lake Blackshear. These are the eight projects that the county is proposing to submit to the regional commission for consideration in the regional sales tax to be voted on next year. It is important to understand that the way the regional sales tax is structured is if the round table committee does not come up with an agreed upon list amongst the sixteen counties in the region and does not put this on the ballot, the county does not get any portion of that money, and any work that the county would want to have done by the state, the county would have to provide 50% of the funding. If the regional round table does come up with a list and puts it on the ballot, and if it is voted down by the people, any work done by the state DOT for the county will be paid for 30% by the county and 70% GDOT. In the event that the regional round table comes up with a list, puts it on the ballot, and the ballot is approved by the voters, when road work is done in the county on these projects, 10% will be paid by the county and 90% paid by the state. He said that the odds of all of these projects getting done will be slim to nothing because there are sixteen other counties vying for dollars to support regional transportation projects. Columbus is the headquarters of our regional commission, and the tax we would receive is based on a formula that is part population and part centerline road miles. The way that works out is if we collected the 1% tax to go into this pot, typically 25% of that money is reserved to go back to the county, 75% goes for regional projects and from that point of view, we will get about 27-28% of that sales tax that is collected in the county for our own projects. Columbus-Muskogee County has 52% of the votes, that means 15 counties can vote it down and Columbus can still vote it in, that is not likely to happen but that is a scenario, and of the penny sales tax that is collected in Columbus-Muskogee, only 4% of that will go back to them for local roads. In order to get them to vote for this tax, a good bit of that money will have to go that way or they won't have anything to vote positive for. Motion was made by Harris to approve the county's eight projects to go to the Regional Roundtable, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously. Public Works Director Carl Gamble stated that the SPLOST allows them to purchase new equipment to work on the roads, materials for the roads like pipes and drains on new construction, and help with sanitation, which right now really needs help. It enhances our road systems and improves the transportation which will in turn help the public safety vehicles get to where they need to be a lot easier.
APPROVE ACCG-IRMA & ACCG-CSIWCF SAFETY DISCOUNT VERIFICATION FORMS
Administrator Crapse reported that we are a member ACCG-IRMA and the Workers Compensation programs. We have completed our safety inspections and complied with all the regulations in order to receive our 7-1/2% discount on our workers compensation premium and our 5% on our liability premium. This has been certified by Fire Chief Ray Lunsford, our Safety Coordinator, and by ACCG Risk Management Agency. We now need approval from the Commission acknowledging that they have read and support the requirements of the ACCG Safety Incentive Discount Program. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the ACCG Safety Verification Forms and authorizing the Chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported today's packet includes a preliminary report and executive summary on the major funds of the County as of Feb. 28, 2011. The General Fund reports monthly revenues of $779,466; year to date $10,505,392; monthly expenditures $816,566; year to date $9,270,032. These numbers leave General Fund revenues exceeding expenditures by about 9% or $1.2 million at 2/28/11. These numbers include about 88% of the 2010 Ad Valorem Tax Revenue appropriated for this year and is running about 1% ahead of this same time last year. In the Landfill Fund, we are reporting $113,888 in accrued monthly revenue; $1,514,842 year to date; $75,757 in monthly expenses; $735,114 year to date, leaving the Landfill with a net gain of $779,728, $548,000 of that being the settlement from Merchants Bonding. Operating income net of that payment would be $231,728 and continues to run ahead of last year's position at this time by about $100,000. The total tonnage received for the month of February was 3298.37 tons with approximately 31% of that being delivered under the Veolia commercial contract and 15% under their residential contact. We also accepted 99.6 tons of C&D at no charge from the City of Cordele for removal of the blighted structure located at 303 West 1st Street. The GEFA Loans are current at $2.7 million and we have drawn $1.3 million on the new construction loan. In the Water Fund, we recorded monthly revenues of $32,158; YTD $309,257. January expenditures totaled $38,979; YTD, $312,666 leaving the Water Fund with a net loss at 2/28/11 of $3,409. Customer usage for the month was 3,706,000 gallons and the USDA Bonds are current at $1,640,879. In the cash on hand report as of February 28th, the total cash on hand countywide was $14.8 million. The largest deposits were $7.9 million in various accounts representing the General Fund and $4.0 million in SPLOST funds. $4.3 million of the countywide total is restricted or reserved for specific uses such as debt service or purchase of capital outlay. In the budget to actual report for the 2000 SPLOST Issue, we have spent $16.6 million of the $17.6 million dollars collected, leaving us with $989,000 to complete the various City and County projects associated with this issue. For the 2005 Issue, to date we have total collections of $20,935,230 and total expenditures $19,161,387. This month's receipt of $281,521 representing January retail sales was the lowest we have seen in over a year. Down 13.7% from last month and 18.3% from Feb. 2010 and caused our monthly average to drop another $1,000 down to $343,200. Following that is a monthly detail listing of all SPLOST Fund expenditures. For the month of February, disbursements totaled $188,956. Projects benefiting from Special Local Option Sales Tax proceeds during the month were the Crisp County Airport, the Sheriff's Department and Public Safety. Next is an updated schedule on our LOST receipts; the decreases here pretty much mirror the drops in percentages from the SPLOST schedules. This month's distribution of $132,315 is down 13.7% from last month and 18.3% from last year. In the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund monthly report, we still have eleven outstanding loans; six are current & five delinquents, with a total balance due of $2,142,264. All the delinquents have been turned over to legal. The next report is the revenues by fund and expenditures by department preliminary report for the nine-month period of July 2010 through February 2011. The summary report shows the expended percentage of appropriations for each individual department and the total for each fund. All departments and divisions should actually be at 67% of their annual allowances. Overall the General Fund was at 64%, the Water Fund at 49% and the Landfill fund at 52%. The last report is a list of Business Licenses issued during the month of February, which included 4 business licenses and 6 regulatory permits. We would like to remind everyone that it is time to renew business licenses. If you own or operate a business in the unincorporated are of the county, you are required to purchase a County Business License. Renewal applications have been mailed out and are due by April 1st, but if you didn't received one or if you are a new business, the application is available on the county website, www.crispcounty.com or you can call or come by the Finance Department and we will be glad to fax or mail it to you. She also mentioned that we have placed a used Crown Vic on the online auction site. Anyone that might be interested can go to www.govdeals.com and place a bid for that vehicle. The auction is scheduled to close this Friday, March 11th.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR'S REPORT
Administrator Crapse reported that 1) He attended several meetings and events this month; 2) There were two new SPLOST purchases approved this month, paving of the drive at $6,500 and a 1500 gallon water tank at $1,000 for Station # 2; 3) On the "Go Fish" project, DNR is telling me no later than mid March on the delivery of the floating docks. They should be able to get them installed by the end of March. Possibly earlier due if they are able to deliver as early as the end of February or first of March; 4) We have been cleared to proceed with the Airport T-Hanger project. The bid documentation and advertising is being prepared by GDOT at this time, so I hope we will be able to get the RFP out late this month or early April; 5) Counting today, there are 5 days left to vote on our 2012 SPLOST. Absentee/Advanced voting continues through this Friday and Election Day is next Tuesday so if you haven't voted, today is a good day. As of Monday morning only 270 had voted; 6) Jeffrey Hunt reported that the revaluation team got off to a fast start last week, fielding three teams and completing 794 parcels, 309 of which were commercial; 7) Just for the public's information, the CCPC announced at their meeting that Georgia Power had raised their rates, but as they were adopted by the CCPC, rates will not go up for Crisp County customers, because the CCPC increased their discount to 25%. Another good reason to live, work, play and retire in Crisp County; 8) On another bright note, we received $299,188.06 from the Probate Judge, which had been stuck in their account for about three years due to some accountability issues with their software. It's not a windfall, however, because we had anticipated it this year and had counted it as anticipated revenue; 9) No report from Caroline Fielding on Darton Downtown Cordele Campus new donations since last month's report; 10) Mediacom has announced that they will add Disney HD to their high definition tier effective March 16th. The Board received a Thank You card from the Chamber for your support of the Atlanta legislative Fish fry; 12) Yesterday we received a letter from Georgia DCA denying the County's request to convert the $60,000 loan to the IDA for the purpose of purchasing the Cordele Inland Port temporary location to a Grant. The letter was forwarded to the IDA and IDC; and 13) The Community of Character Trait for the Month of March is PATIENCE. To wait your turn nicely without fussing, skipping, or touching. The power to wait calmly without complaining.
DISCUSS LILLISTON ROAD AND ROCK ROAD
Johnny Shorter reported that he is a property owner on Lilliston Road, and they have been having trouble on this road for a long time from where he lives, which is on the hill, to the paved road. The road is dangerous when it rains, and if something happens to any of them, they couldn't get out or no one can get in with a hard rain. He advised that they do put dirt on the road, but when it rains, it washes right out, and the hill is really slippery when it rains. Johnny and Ethel Adkins advised that they live on Rock Road, which is between Bedgood and Hawpond Roads, and they have trouble with the bus drivers coming down that road when it rains, and they asked if it could be graveled or something so they won't have that problem. Mrs. Adkins stated that they don't have any way to get out either when it rains because the road below them is very slippery and boggy. Chairman Mathis advised that Mr. Gamble, Public Works Director, who was still in the audience, is listening and hopefully we can see some improvements in these roads in the coming months.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to go into Executive Session to discuss personnel and litigation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
REAPPOINTMENTS TO THE CRISP-SUMTER JDA
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to reappoint Bruce Drennan, Mulford Roberson, and A. James Nance to the Crisp-Sumter Joint Development Authority for four-year terms running from March 1, 2011 to February 28, 2015, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
REAPPOINTMENT TO THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSORS
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to reappoint Robert Powell to the Crisp County Board of Assessors for a four-year term running from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2015, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE EMERGENCY REPAIRS ON THE WATER LINE
Administrator Crapse reported that several months ago a Power Commission employee discovered a place on the Lake Blackshear Bridge where the water line had broken loose. We went out and took a look at it, and we had the initial repair done for $5,500, but also based on what we found, we had the company inspect the entire line. The entire line is not in good shape as we are having hangars fall out almost daily from the vehicle pounding on the bridge. We are pretty lucky as we were notified a couple of years ago that we would no longer be able to hang things on DOT bridges, but the company has gone to DOT and the Federal Transit Authority and gotten the approval of the specs, etc. for re-hanging the line before it drops off. The line is about 2900 feet long and will take 290 hangars to re-hang it. We think it is imperative that we get to this and get it done, and the cost will be $135,000. We do have sufficient reserves in the Water Fund to cover those costs, and we do have some additional costs coming up on the water tanks. Hopefully the SPLOST will pass. Our neighbors in Sumter County depend on us for water, and if the line were to fall, then DOT could come back and say now that it is down go ahead and bore under the lake instead of hanging it on our bridge, which would be about ten times as costly. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve $135,000 emergency repairs on the water line under Lake Blackshear Bridge, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSS LANDFILL METHANE OUTREACH PROGRAM
Administrator Crapse advised that they had some people from the Landfill Methane Outreach Program do an expo for our landfill for people that were interested in methane gas. Right now he has basically three unsolicited proposals in hand for doing the landfill gas, and he knows that there will be at least one more. He has an unsolicited proposal for the management and operation of the landfill also, and part of their proposal is that they would like the landfill gas rights under an agreement that we work out to go to them if we don't do something in a year. There is not a huge revenue stream here, probably be about $800,000 over twenty years and all kinds of ways that could be paid. We also have a couple of these companies that want to take our waste stream, but we can't eliminate the waste stream and then do the landfill gas as you have to have the waste stream to have the gas. His opinion is that our best option, assuming that they have a reasonable proposal, is to try to go with the EFO group, and keep everything together. His intent is to eventually, if we don't get a deal based on what we know from EFO that the Board is comfortable with, put out a regular RFP for bids and see where we can get the best bang for the buck. The other thing is, since it is not budget time, is to look at the operation maintenance of the landfill to see if we can conserve some resources and save some money by investigating a management contract. Two other things have come about as he had a short meeting with the folks with Trans Waste the other day, and they are looking for some air space in the future, and he thinks now is an appropriate time to address this situation. Also, he thinks we need to concentrate on marketing the gas and looking at an agreement for operation and management of the landfill if we can get an agreement that will be financially advantageous to the county. He wants to see where Commissioners are going and where they want to proceed so that we will have a way to put some positive work in the right direction as there is no use in putting all the time and effort into looking into this if the Board wants to stay where we are now. Chairman Mathis agrees that we need to accept proposals as we already have several people coming by and making proposals.
Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to adjourn the meeting at 12:12 p.m., seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.