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Chairman Wallace Mathis called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m., with Commissioners A. James Nance, William Culpepper, and Clark Henderson in attendance. Others present were County Attorney Rick Lawson, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Commissioner Culpepper gave the invocation and 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 regular meeting minutes of September 13, 2011, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Karen Merritt and Chris Mann met with Commissioners to give an update on the activities that were going on downtown this year in regards to Halloween. Ms. Merritt reported that the Cordele Main Street Board is planning a number of events to bring attention to the downtown area. One of the things they will be doing is sponsoring a countywide business scarecrow contest, and all the businesses in Crisp County are encouraged to build a scarecrow and it can be funny, traditional, or crazy. This event will be sponsored by Ace Hardware, who will give a discount to anyone who needs straw to build their scarecrow; prizes will be awarded on Thursday, October 27th at Perlis Park. Also on that day the businesses will be giving out candy, and there will be a pumpkin cook off at the Community Clubhouse; the desert division will be sponsored by Crimson & Clover; the pie division will be sponsored by J. W. Designs; and the cake division will be sponsored by Logo's. Also, there will be a $100 cash overall grand prizewinner. She encourages everyone to participate. She stated that the third event they will have is sponsored by Crisp Regional Hospital and will be a human costume contest for children and adults, and that will be at Perlis Park also. Ms. Mann stated that they are going to have a pumpkin painting and carving contest for adults and children sponsored by Crisp Area Arts Alliance, and the pumpkins will be set up at Perlis Park by 5:30 on Oct. 27th with awards at 6:30 p.m., and you must be present to win. They want all to come out and decorate a pumpkin. Also on this day they will have a pet costume contest sponsored by Second Chance Pet Sanctuary and Tractor Supply; it will be held at 6:00 p.m. at Perlis Park. They will have a parade of the pets in costume, and first, second, and third place winners will be announced at 6:20 p.m. They will also have a Celebration of Fall Photography contest sponsored by The Cordele Dispatch, and they are looking for any kind of fall photo's, work must be original, and they need to be turned into the Dispatch by October 19th. The pictures will be displayed at the City Hall lobby until November 4th. Awards will be presented for this on Oct. 27th at 7:15 p.m. She advised that they are urging the citizens to become involved in the community and downtown. Doug Cole, Director of the movie Exit 101 reported that their world premier is going to be on Saturday night, October 29, 2011, and they will have two shows at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium. A couple of years ago when this film was being made there were a lot of people in town and the surrounding communities that were involved in this, right now this is the only scheduled showing, they want all to come out and see it, and they will have merchandise there for sell. He advised that it is a comedy horror film, and you can order tickets on-line. A local artist made this film and they pooled together their resources to make it very cost effective. Ms. Merritt advised that all information is on the Cordele Main street face book page.


Sheriff Donnie Haralson and Major Ken Partain came before Commissioners, and Sheriff Haralson brought a check for $171,824.75 from Homeland Security. He advised that he thinks they have pretty much spent most of the money already on vests, lights, etc. to help them fight crime, and they appreciate the state of Georgia helping them, as they were able to buy a good bit of things that they need. Commissioners thanked him for the job he does. The Sheriff stated that the card reading machine was demonstrated last week and one should be here in about two weeks, and he advised that they were out abut 30 minutes or so and it picked up six tags that had expired, three or four with no insurance or drivers license, and that will help our community be safer and give them another tool to work with. He stated that he appreciates the Commissioners for working with them to get this machine.


Connie Sangster, Planning Director, reported that we had the public hearing last month on the rezoning request from Family Development Task Force, Inc. Property located at 2112 South Joe Wright Drive. She read the standards where they make the decisions on rezoning special uses. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve the rezoning request conditional upon this facility being used only for family development and social services and not to be leased out due to concerns of some of the adjacent property owners for use in any other manner, and such use would violate this authorization and very possibly result in revocation, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Sangster reported that in order to operate the facility as Mrs. Watkins has referred to, it will require a special use permit in that zone district, and the reason they left it Office Institutional is to protect the existing residential areas and that is the least intrusive zone district for that area. She read the review checklist for the special use request. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the Special Use Permit, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Chairman Mathis opened the Public Hearing. Ms. Sangster reported that she has a request from Denny Rogers (with the property owners authorization) for a special use permit to locate a Dog Training Service in an RR (Rural Residential) zone district. Property located at 168 Barefoot Trail. Mr. Rogers reported that for years he has guided quail hunts and trained his own dogs, and for nine years he and his wife had a kids organization called Georgia Outdoors Adventures Kids. They gave away quail hunts, and during that time he had 12-15 dogs of his own that he trained and housed at the facility. In about the last six to eight months he has developed a severe hip problem, and he is no longer able to guide hunt but he still enjoys dogs. His intent is to get a license to establish a training facility for two reasons, 1) there is a certain group of people that will almost demand that you be a licensed trainer before they will allow you to touch their dog, and 2) there are a couple of organizations that he wants to become certified by but they will not certify you unless you have a license. Since he is not able to train and work his own dogs on quail hunts, he wants to go to the other side of it and work with other peoples dogs, and in order to do that, he wants to be able to say that he is a licensed qualified trainer and can handle whatever they wish. Mr. Rogers stated that there would be no additional facility built as he has facilities now to house individually twelve dogs in addition to a nursery kennel. The maximum number of dogs that he will handle at any time in addition to his own five dogs will be up to four dogs. He has never had a neighbor to have any negative comment about his dogs, and a well-trained dog will not leave his yard. Chairman Mathis asked for any comments in favor of the request. Mr. Henderson stated that it sounded to him that what he is trying to do is not any change in what he is doing as an individual, and Mr. Rogers stated that the only difference is that he will be paid a training fee to train the dogs. Mrs. Leverett stated that Mr. Rogers came into their office and he is referring to his county business license, as when he made application for that license, they don't issue a license until Connie signs off on the zoning, and that is the license he is referring to. Chairman Mathis asked for any more comments for the request, there were none; he asked for any comments opposing the request, and there were none. Ms. Sangster read the review checklist for the special use permit. Chairman Mathis closed the public hearing. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve the request from Denny Rogers for a special use permit to locate a Dog Training Service in an RR zone district, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Carl Gamble, Public Works Director, reported that 1) The slab for the new airport hangars has been poured and they are waiting on the building to be delivered somewhere around the first of November; 2) There is a supplemental agreement being prepared by the Department of Transportation for the additional paving around the new hangars; 3) We received our letter from the Environmental Protection Division for the acceptance of the new landfill cells on September 13th and if everything goes as planned we should be able to stay within our existing footprint for several more weeks; 4) The Go Fish ramps are still on schedule for the first week of November; 5) As of last Thursday, there has been no DOT permits issued for the easterly entrance to the new school project on Hatley Road; 5) The special condition has been cleared for #2 Omar Heights street drainage improvements, and they are to have a meeting with Greg and Jerry to go over the design plans, and once those design plans have been accepted, then they can proceed with obtaining the easements; 6) The topo and site data has been acquired for the jail expansion; 7) All other projects are going on as planned; and 8) We used 8,036,000 of water for the month of September in the Water Department, and our static water level was 68' and the pumping level was 90', and in September 2010 the static water level was 56' and the pumping level was 76'; they encourage people to conserve their water as much as possible.


Monica Simmons, Executive Director of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, was present to promote Red Ribbon Week and ask the Board to approve the Proclamation. Mrs. Simmons stated that they like to come every year to the meeting so that the Commissioners are aware of what is going on and to invite them to come to the kickoff on October 23rd at 9:30 a.m. at Southwestern Elementary. She handed out red ribbons and posters. She stated that they try to coordinate the activities as they work with the county school systems reminding our children not to do drugs, and they appreciate the Commissioners support. She also reminded them of the Public Safety Dinner on Thursday night. Mrs. Leverett read the proclamation. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the Red Ribbon Week Proclamation and authorize the Chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.


Eric Bozeman, Recreation Department Director, reported that they are in full swing at the Recreation Department right now with their football, soccer, and cheerleading programs; their new fitness programs are going really well which include Zumba and senior fitness classes. Chairman Mathis stated that Andre Ramsey, former Crisp County High football player, said a few words at the opening ceremonies, and the children really liked that. He thanked Mr. Bozeman for the job he does.


Will Fell, who works with the Community Wide Fire Protections Plans (CCWP), stated that he wanted to make a public presentation to the Commissioners for a plan that was developed for Crisp County over the past year and also explain what a community wide fire protection plan is. He stated that plans were originally developed on the west coast in response to the loss of property from activities on federal land that has since spread to the east coast, particularly Florida. About three years ago Georgia made a policy decision that they were going develop these plans for the counties in Georgia, and one of the main reasons for doing this is the belief that it will give enhanced opportunities for grant funding for rural fire departments. He advised that CCWP is a fairly narrowly focused plan in that it is looking at identifying the risks and hazards to property and infrastructure from wildfire damage, and also to make recommendations on what could be done to mitigate these problems. He advised that these plans are a recommendation and are not binding on any agency, but they were developed locally with the county fire chief, the county administrator, and the chairman. He stated that one of the things that they hope will come out of this is to make people more aware of taking care of their own homes, making them fire-wise as it doesn't take much fire to damage a home. Marte Fore, Chief Ranger with Crisp Dooly Forestry, stated that they did these assessments back in the spring when it was so dry along with Chief Lunsford, and prioritized these areas based on which was the most threatening to wild fires. This is to try to make our community safer, and if we do have a wildfire we can possibly get grant money to help the community. Chairman Mathis thanked them for what they do. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and authorize the Chairman and Fire Chief Lunsford to sign, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that we have received a request for a donation of $10,000 to the Industrial Development Authority for financial assistance; they need a total of $30,000 and have requested $10,000 each from the county, city, and power commission. She stated that in the past budgets we have had the luxury of contingencies in our General Funds to take care of items like this, we don't have that this year, and she doesn't really know where we will get this money from other than surplus, but it is certainly the Commissioners decision. Chairman Mathis asked how much was in surplus, and she replied less than $2 million, which is less than two months operating money. Mr. Henderson stated that the power commission and city have approved this request, and he feels that the IDA provides a vital function for our county even though we do have a shortfall of funds. Mr. Henderson made the motion to donate $10,000 to the Crisp County-Cordele Industrial Development Authority for discussion, seconded by Mr. Nance. Mr. Nance stated that just because the city and power commission donated money, he doesn't necessarily say he is going to do something because they did it. Mr. Henderson stated he was basing his motion on the letter of request telling them how these funds are expended and the economic issues everyone is experiencing. Chairman Mathis advised that we have several different projects that have a lot more activity than what they have been having, and we hope some of the things that are going to happen is going to turn around and enhance the property that IDA owns and generate some money back to them as right now they are in that middle area where they don't have anywhere else to the get the money from. That was some of the stuff we were looking at when we were talking about raising taxes by trying to be able to fund ourselves through this little bump. Mr. Culpepper agrees with Mr. Nance in that he is ready to look at it but he is not going to do it because other entities have done it; he asked if we had gotten any accounting records from IDA since the last time he heard we had requested it and not gotten anything. Mrs. Leverett advised that this is the first one she has seen in a while but that didn't mean that it didn't come to Mr. Crapse. She advised that if they decide to fund the request, we should at least hold off in disbursing the money until after the end of the year or table it this month as our cash flow is as low as it has been in years. Mr. Henderson withdrew his motion and made a motion to table the request until our financial condition improves, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that this is the standard capital improvements D.O.T. 5311 grant, and the total funding on this grant is $140,100, with a 10% local match. Resource Management System, our Third Party Operator for the 5311 CART program, is going to pay the 10% match so there will be no cost to the county for this. The grant will purchase three new shuttle vans with lifts to replace three old vans. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adopt the 2012 Section 5311 Capital Contract Grant and authorize the chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.


Ray Lunsford, Crisp Rescue Fire Chief, reported that this week is National Fire Prevention Week and asked all to think about fire safety. He advised that an organization is painting used fire trucks pink to make people aware of cancer, and then going around the state promoting cancer awareness. This month is cancer awareness month, and the organization, Pink Heels, Southeast Georgia Chapter of the Guardians of the Ribbon, makes money by charging people to write names of cancer victims and cancer survivors on the truck, and they turn around and use that money towards cancer prevention. He stated he thinks there are four or five trucks like this in the state now. His request is to consider donating the fire truck that we had on Gov Deals for a while to the Pink Heels, and let them paint it and use it to make people aware of cancer, and they also recognize where the vehicle came from. Chairman Mathis advised that he had seen one of these trucks in Macon at a festival, and there were a lot of people around it all day. He stated that Mrs. Leverett has looked into the possibility of whether or not we could do this. He also mentioned that if we have an open bay at one of the fire stations here we could leave it hear so they wouldn't have to continually drive it so far to get to other places. Mrs. Leverett advised that the county as a local government cannot legally donate money to a 501c3 without a contract for services, but we can sell it to them. Mr. Lunsford advised that they would have to look at the truck and see if they want it. He asked the Commissioners to consider this request. Mr. Henderson advised that he feels it is a good program. Mr. Nance stated that we pretty much were going to give it to a county several months ago anyway. Chairman Mathis thanked Mr. Lunsford for bringing this proposal before them, he thinks this will be a nice gesture, and Mr. Lunsford will see if the Guardians of the Ribbon is interested. Mr. Lunsford advised that they have been busy with fire prevention programs, especially this week, with the schools, and they appreciate the Commissioners help with that every year. He stated that they have had a couple of structure fires recently but everything seems to be going a little better, especially with the rain.


Mrs. Leverett reported that in order for the Judges and the Clerk of Court to set their 2012 court schedule and all other department heads to set their holiday schedules and not create conflict, we need to set the 2012 county holiday and office-closing schedule. The proposed holidays for 2012 and New Years Day for 2013 are listing in their packet; they are the same as the last several years. She recommended that the Board approve the schedule so that everybody can set their calendars. Mrs. Leverett advised that our holiday schedule pretty much mirrors the state and federal holiday schedules and the banks. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the 2012 Crisp County Holiday Schedule to mirror the federal and state government, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that it is time for our employee health fair as we usually do this every other year; it is fully funded by the Crisp County Local Government Health Plan and it saves the plan money because they can conduct these screenings cheaper through the clinic than if someone goes to their personal doctor. It also has the potential to save big dollars if through this screening process they identify at least one or two employees that have some type of problem that they don't know they have and get them on a treatment program, and that happens almost every year. She advised that it will be on October 27th and 28th beginning at 6:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. both days, and it is open to the people on the health benefit plan. Those wishing to participate from the county will need to contract Ms. Finch for a time slot so that we don't have everybody showing up at the same time. We also have payroll stuffers that will go in the checks next week advising all employees about this, and it is not mandatory but we do encourage the employees to participate. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the 2011 health fair for county employees, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that we have a request for refund or credit on property taxes from James L. & Billie Smith based on an incorrect calculation on the number of bathrooms in their residence. The verification by the Board of Assessors that in fact there was an error is included in the packet along with a memo from Chief Appraiser Tim Quick, and she recommends that the Board approve a credit toward their 2011 taxes as calculated by the Tax Commissioner. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve the tax refund for James L. & Billie Smith subject to the calculation by the Tax Commissioner, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that we have a committee that handles the annual tree lightning ceremony every year and several members of the committee have come to her and ask her to bring this to the Commissioners, as we didn't have much community participation last year. The event costs the county about $1,200, not including employee time; it is a tight budget and a little bit of money but we could save that money by downsizing this activity. We would still decorate and light the tree before the Lions Club parade day. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to downsize the Christmas tree lightning this year, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


Mrs. Leverett reported that the first page of today's preliminary September 30th financial report shows an executive summary of the County's financial position at the end of the first quarter of FY 2012 for our three major funds. In the General Fund, we are reporting $620,042 in monthly and $1,419,198 YTD. On the expenditure side, we have $1,324,321 in monthly and $3,381,330 year to date. Those numbers leave the General Fund with a net loss at September 30th of $1,962,132. At 13%, this is one of the highest deficits we have experienced for the General Fund. We are $600,000 off where we were this same time last year. With reserves down as well it continues to be important for us to remain conservative with our spending until we start seeing the effects on our revenue stream from the collection of this years ad valorem taxes. The tax commissioner informed me last week that the 2011 tax bills should go out before the end of this week. Hopefully, we will start to see some of that revenue real soon. In the Landfill, monthly accrued revenues were $90,016, year to date $302,709. Monthly Expenses were $112,764, YTD $257,797, leaving the landfill fund with a net gain at 9/30/11 of $44,912. The total tonnage received for the month of September was only 2,835.4 tons, the lowest we have recorded in over two years. 38% of that was delivered on the Veolia commercial contract and 16% on their residential MSW contract. Principal balance on the GEFA Loans is current at $2.5 million and the balance drawn to date on the construction of cells 10, 11, & 12 is $2,535,915. For the month of September for the Water Fund, monthly revenue was $45,056, YTD $141,072. Monthly expenses $43,623, YTD $114,535, leaving the Water Fund with a net gain of $26,537. Water usage was 7,824,000 gallons and the USDA bonds are current at $1,620,449. Cash on hand at September 30th, the General Fund ended the month down over $1.0 million from this time last year, at $3.6 million; the Landfill Fund, $972,339; the Revolving Loan Fund, $197,300; the SPLOST Funds, $5.9 million; and the Water Fund ended the month with $1.2 million leaving us with a county wide total of a little over $12.0 million. In the budget to actual report for the 2000 SPLOST Issue, as of September 30, 2011, we have spent $16.8 million of the $17.6 million dollars collected, leaving us with $828,534 to complete the projects associated with this issue. To date collections in the budget to actual report for the 2005 SPLOST Issue is $23.5 million and expenditures $19.5 million. September's distribution #68, of $318,497, represents August retail sales and was actually up slightly, less than 1% over last month, and 1.7% over September of 2010. It's important to note that it looks like the 2011 SPLOST revenue is not going to meet projections. Based on the last 12 months average, we are going to be about 10% or $2.5 million short. Next is a monthly detail listing of all the SPLOST Fund expenditures for both issues. Expenditures for the month totaled $59,567. Projects benefiting from Special Local Option Sales Tax dollars this month were the Crisp County Courthouse, Public Works, the Crisp County Airport and the Recreation Department. This month's receipt of the Local Option Sales Tax receipts of $149,693 is up slightly, by the same percentages as the SPLOST, over last month and this same time last year. In the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund monthly report, we remain at 11 outstanding loans for a total balance due of $2.3 million. We issued one Beer, four Occupation Tax Certificates, one regulatory permit and one wine license. For the preliminary budget to actual statement summary by department for the three major funds, all expenditures should be at or below 25%. Overall, at September 30th, the General Fund is at 23%, the Landfill Fund is at 16% & the Water Fund ended the month at 19%.


Mrs. Leverett advised that revenue projections based on the most recent twelve months history for 2011 SPLOST is not going to generate the $25,275,000 included in that budget. As of right now it appears that it is going to be about $2,500,000 short. That is about $35,000 a month off the average, and it would have to increase more than $35,000 a month to raise the average. She thinks it is her duty as the Finance Director to let them know this, and we need to start thinking about downsizing some or all of the projects that we have included in the 2011 SPLOST. If we need a work session, we could do that or they have a couple of months to think about this as she doesn't think it is wise to plan to spend money that it doesn't look like we are going to have. Mr. Henderson stated that we definitely need a work session to go over all the expenditures, as you can't spend money that you don't have. By common consent, Commissioners set November 3rd at 1:00 p.m. as a work session to discuss the 2011 SPLOST expenditures.


Mrs. Leverett reported that the redistricting map we approved a few months ago would not pass the technical requirements because of the triangle in District 2, and basically they took in a little corner off of Byrd's Mill Road in District 4 to correct it. There was no population in that area, so it didn't affect the numbers at all. This one has passed the redistricting office now, and we have sent everything to Attorney Lawson so he can get the map to the Department of Justice.


Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to go into Executive Session to discuss pending litigation, personnel, and real estate, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.


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


Chairman Mathis reported that they were looking at getting the debris off the tipping floor at Solid Waste, and a lady has come down to look at it and see if they want it and hopefully they will buy it.


Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to adjourn the meeting at 12:00 p.m., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.

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