MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
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 Tom Patton, County Attorney Rick Lawson, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Clerk Linda Finch. Rev. Jimmy Felton gave the invocation, and Administrator Patton led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Chairman Mathis welcomed all in attendance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the minutes of the August 14th and August 28th meetings, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT
Carl Gamble, Public Works Director, reported that 1) we have billed 1233 residential customers and 24 commercial customers, and installed four new taps in waterworks last month; 2) the LMIG is completed except for what public works has to do on the shoulders of the roads; 3) we are still waiting to hear from DOT on the Off-System Safety Plans; 4) we are still waiting on the canopy over the top of the pier from DNR on the Go Fish ramps; 5) we are waiting on the DOT contracts on the Old Hatley Road project plus we are also waiting on other utilities that need to be installed on the right-of-way; 6) the last walls are coming down today on the Darton project; 7) the AOS system at the airport that was begun yesterday should be finished either this afternoon or in the morning, which is the upgrading of the weather station; and 8) they hope to get some bridge improvements done, hopefully from DOT.
ADOPT PROCLAMATION FOR CRISP COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY LT. ROBERT "MICHAEL" SANGSTER, JR.
Chairman Mathis stated that in conjunction of today being Patriots Day, we also want to take this opportunity to recognize and pay respect to our first responders; September 11, 2001 is a day where we lost of lot of citizens and first responders in the plane crashes in New York City. Also in recognizing our first responders in Crisp County who do what they have to do to make this a safer and better place, we have two special people today that we want to honor and recognize, that is Lt. Robert "Michael" Sangster and Terry Jones. He stated that Mr. Culpepper was going to read the proclamation for Michael and present it his family, and let them know how much the commissioners appreciate them allowing him to become part of the Crisp County government family. Mr. Culpepper stated that he thought a lot of Michael, he was a great friend to him and great citizen of this community. He read the proclamation honoring and remembering Mr. Sangster and declaring September 11, 2012 as Deputy Lt. Robert "Michael" Sangster, Jr. day in Crisp County. Chief Deputy Billy Hancock, on behalf of Sherriff Haralson, who could not be here, and the Crisp County Sheriff's Office, presented his mother, father, and sister and Administrator Patton, for the County Commissioners Office, a #16 Badge in laminate, what he will always be known as to the Crisp County Sheriff's Department. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adopt the Proclamation Honoring and Remembering Crisp County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Robert "Michael" Sangster, Jr., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously. Mr. Culpepper gave the Proclamation to his mother, father, and sister on behalf of the Crisp County Commissioners
ADOPT PROCLAMATION FOR TERRY JONES
Chairman Mathis reported that they also wanted to recognize Terry Jones, who died a few years ago in an accident while he was working as a Crisp County Public Works employee. Mr. Nance stated that Terry Jones family is here as well along with Commissioner-elect Larry Felton, who was Terry's brother. He read the proclamation remembering the life and works of Terry Jones, who was a dedicated employee for over 12 years, and did what was needed at any time while employed, and declaring September 26, 2012 as Terry Jones day in Crisp County. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adopt the Proclamation Remembering the Life and Works of Former Crisp County Public Works Employee Mr. Terry Jones, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously. Mr. Nance gave the Proclamation to his twin brother on behalf of the Crisp County Commissioners.
NEW COUNTY AGAENT JUSTIN LANIER
Mrs. Emily Reid introduced the county's new Extension Agent Justin Lanier. She reported that he has been with the county since last Tuesday and is from Berrien County. Mr. Lanier stated that he grew up on a family farm in Berrien County, he went to ABAC for three years, and then transferred to UGA Tifton, where he graduated in August, 2012 with a degree in Agni Science Environmental Assistance. Chairman Mathis thanked him for stopping in this morning, they are glad to meet him, and the commissioners look forward to working with him.
DENY REQUST FOR TAX PENALTIES AND INTEREST FOR HELENA INDUSTRIES
Mr. Patton reported that during the course of Helena Industries annual audit, they found some items that should have been reported for tax purposes, and Helena has asked that the penalties and interest be removed from any additional tax assessment. The penalty was applied in accordance with the regulations, and is not the result of any error on the part of the county or any of its officials, and he recommends that this request be denied. Also, this is consistent with all other previous requests of this nature. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to deny the request for tax penalties and interest be removed from additional tax assessment by Helena Industries, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE FY-13 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS TO ESTABLISH A SPECIAL SERVICE DISTRICT FUND
Mrs. Leverett reported that Crisp County, by official code, established a special service district in 1999 to include the services of fire protection, garbage collection, and planning and zoning. These services are considered available for citizens in the unincorporated areas of the county and are funded with revenues generated only in the unincorporated areas of the county. In order for the revenues and expenditures associated with the special service district to be more easily identifiable in the financial statements and audit reports, they need to separate that accounting activity into a distinct fund. She advised that until now those revenues and expenditures have always been included as part of the general fund; because of that, that was the way they were funded for FY-13. Approval of these budget adjustments will shift those revenues and expenditures from the general fund to the now established special service district fund. There is no increase or decrease in revenues or expenditures. She stated that there will be a reduction of $1.9 million in revenue from the general fund that will be shifted into the special service district fund and the same thing on the expenditures side. Mr. Henderson asked what would happen if we ran out of money in that fund, and Mrs. Leverett stated that if the revenue level doesn't come in to cover those expenses, there would be an increase in the special service tax rate. Motion was made by Mr. Nance to approve the FY-13 budget adjustments to establish a special service distinct fund, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE AGREEMENT FOR FLINT RIVER PRESERVE, LLC
Mr. Patton reported that Flint River Preserve, LLC is a development on the Worth County side by the power plant. They have put in the infrastructure and water lines, and this agreement will convey the water system and certain easement rights to the county in exchange for the county to provide water to the individuals who buy lots in this development as well as any future commercial endeavors in the development. Flint River will preserve or maintain repairs and service the water system at its expense for a period of one year from the date of this agreement. The agreement is in compliance with our policy, and he recommends that the agreement be approved. Mr. Gamble stated that the system was installed according to our standards as well as state standards, this agreement will accept their water system, and they will have to supply the deed to the system itself as well as easements. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to approve the agreement between Flint River Preserve, LLC and the Board of Commissioners of Crisp County, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE FY-13 TRANSIT OPERATING ASSISTANCE CONTRACT BETWEEN CRISP COUNTY AND DOT
Mr. Patton stated that this is an annual Transit Operating Assistance Contract with the Department of Transportation for a period of July, 2012 through June, 2013. This is a 50/50% local DOT funded project with a grant amount available of $189,370 and a required local match of the same. The local match is always paid by Resource Management Systems, our Third Party Operators of the program, and the only cost to the county is the insurance on the six vehicles. In order to receive the funding and continue the program, we will need to approve the contract and authorize the chairman to sign the paperwork. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to approve the FY-13 Transit Operating Assistance Contract between Crisp County and DOT and authorize the chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE CRISP COUNTY RURAL TRANSPORTATION VEHICLE PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Mr. Patton reported that the Federal Transpiration Administration now requires adoption of a vehicle preventative maintenance program for all 5311 transit programs. In coordinating with the Resource Management Systems, they have developed a maintenance plan which meets all the FDA safety, safety inspection preventative, and other requirements. In order to comply with FDA regulations, we need to adopt the plan and authorize the chairman to sign. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to adopt the Crisp County Rural Transportation-Vehicle Preventative Maintenance Policy and Procedures and give the chairman the authority to sign, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported for the month of August, they report General Fund revenues of $394,452 and expenditures of $1,005,697 bringing year to date revenues to $558,244 and year to date expenditures to $2,306,819. These figures leave expenditures exceeding revenues by around 12% placing the General Fund in a deficit position $1,748,575. Accrued August revenues for the Landfill totaled $129,161, expenditures $110,086. YTD accrued revenues reached $253,252 and YTD expenditures $212,378, left the Landfill Fund with a net gain of $40,874. The total tonnage received for the month of August was 3770.98 tons with 41% of that being delivered on the Veolia commercial contract and 12% under the residential contract. The principal balance on the GEFA Loans is current at $5,054,532. The Water fund recorded August revenue at $48,185, expenditures at $46,298. Year to date revenues totaled $99,925, year to date total expenditures $86,474 leaving this fund with net gain after two month of $13,451. Water usage billed for the month was 6,940,000 gallons and The USDA Bonds are current at $1.6 million. Cash on hand at August 31, 2012 showed the General Fund at $3.9 million, the Landfill Fund at $958,808, the revolving loan fund at $260,568, the SPLOST Funds at $7.8 million, and the Water Fund at $1.3 million leaving us with a county wide total of $14.3 million. Of the $14.3 million, approximately $7.9 million is reserved or restricted for debt service or specific uses such as capital improvements. Our spendable cash is down about $500,000 from August of 2011. That along with the delays in obtaining the 2012 Tax Digest and the drop in our reserves over the past several years puts us in very guarded cash position from now until year end. In the budget to actual report for the 2000 SPLOST Issue, as of August 31st, we have spent $16.9 million of the $17.6 million dollars collected, leaving us with $666,000 remaining for projects associated with that issue. For the 2005 Issue, to date we have spent $19.4 of the $24.7 million collected for projects as budgeted under this issue leaving a balance of $5.3 million to complete those projects. Following that is the same schedule on the new SPLOST. Distribution no. 7 in the amount of $354,499 is down 3.51% from last month but up about 12% over August of 2011. It does drop the monthly average down to $343,286, $7,756 short of what it needs to be to meet original budget. To date we have collected $2,403,002 in revenue under this issue and expended $1.7 million. Projects benefiting from the support of SPLOST dollars for the month of August were the Crisp County Airport, The Darton Center Project, the Jail Expansion, The Sheriff's Department and the Cities of Arabi and Cordele. In the spreadsheet on our Local Option Sales Tax receipts, this month's receipt, representing July retail sales of $166,617, just like SPLOST, is also down, 3.51% from last month but up about 12% from this same time last year. In the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund monthly report, we have eleven outstanding loans with a total amount due of $2,238,292. Of those eleven, six are current and five remain delinquent. Last is a preliminary report of revenues by fund and expenditures by department report for the first two months of the new fiscal year. The summary report shows the expended percentage of appropriations for each individual department and the total for each fund. All divisions should be at 17% or less as of August 31st. As of this report, for our 3 major funds, the General Fund was at 18%, the Landfill Fund at 16% and the Water Fund at 13%. She also stated that the Community Development Block Grant 12, the health department improvement project, was not approved by the Department of Community Affairs, and they have requested an extension for the CDBG 10, the Northside area, but have not received a response from DCA yet as to whether or not that grant project is going to be extended as we are having problems getting some easements.
APPROVE FORMING TASK FORCE TO LOOK INTO TRASH SITUATION
Angie Ellis stated that she was not only representing the Cordele-Crisp County Community League, she is here as a Tourism board member, a public citizen, and employee of Planters First Bank. A clean community to her is a sign of not only citizens but employers who care about their community, and it is also a sign that we are good servants of what we have been entrusted here. She would like to request that the Commissioners appoint a task force to study and give a proposal to the Commissioners, and she would like the task force to be made up of our new administrator, one county commissioner and three or four citizens of this community. She stated that she also has names of people that would like to be appointed to that task force, and if they would give them a ninety-day window, they would like to come back with a proposal to help the commissioners have the wonderful mental attitude to achieve the goal of cleaning up this community. They have a great research going as to what has happened and what some of those proactive communities have done to clean up and make their properties look wonderful. They would just ask that they give them the consideration of appointing that task force and letting them come back and help them with a proposal. She also had pictures of what our county looks like on any given day. Mr. Henderson stated that he has had the administrator get figures on what it would cost to fence in and pour concrete at a site, place a building there, hire someone to man the facility plus it is possible to use the old DOT site in the Drayton area, and it was approximately $90,000 for one site. Mr. Henderson made a motion that we do a manned site at the old DOT site behind the Farmers Market with fencing, building, paving recycling containers and a trash compactor. John Woodard stated that he thinks the county can put a manned site like this everywhere there is a garbage container at now. Mr. Patton stated that we have a request on the floor we need to discuss first, which is to form a task force as there is more than one way to skin this cat. He thinks that it is important that we get citizen buy-in to this program, as litter is a people problem; let's go this route first and come up with some citizens' recommendations to the board. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to form a task force to look into the trash situation of the county, seconded by Mr. Nance for discussion. Chairman Mathis stated that we have seventeen trash sites, we took up two a couple of years ago, and the big alternative is if we cut it down to four or five sites, how many people are going to want to drive that extended distance. Before we spend all this money on manned sites, do we want to do this or go to curbside pickup? Mrs. Ellis stated that because the surrounding communities do not have dump sites, we have become a magnet for them, we don't want that, we just have to educate the citizens. Mr. Nance stated that we are going to have to do something in order to change the effect, and he thinks the recommendation is a good idea to get citizens participation. When you talk about closing sites, people will get upset about having to transport their garbage further. Doug Hyde stated that people are in the dumpsters looking for cans, etc. and also he has seen people taking bags, slitting them and distributing things on the ground and just leave it there. Janice Summers stated that since she has been here she has seen the trash go from a bad situation to a worst situation, and we are moving in the wrong direction as there is an adage that says you never get a second chance to make a first impression and when people come into our community, the first impression they get is that we do not care how our community looks or whether you stop and stay here or not. If we want to send a different message to people that come through our community, we need to change. She stated that Mrs. Ellis has graciously offered the services of at least 40 women that are active advocates of this problem in our community through the Community League, and she knows that there are a number of other citizens in other clubs that would probably be glad to jump on the bandwagon and help with the trash problem. We have littering laws on the books and signs at the sites that say that if you litter you will be fined; all we have to do is enforce the law on the books if commissioners would give the direction to our county sheriff's department. Then you would immediately start punishing the perpetrators that are breaking the law. As stewards of God's green earth, we need to be responsible for garbage that we produce. One citizen stated that they need to just issue everybody a can and take the dumpsters up, charge people that would be the easiest thing to do. Chairman Mathis stated that the county employees do a great job of getting these dumpsters cleaned up every week. Mr. Culpepper stated that there are a good many people from other counties dumping their trash in our dumpsters, and this group has a great idea, whether it be curbside or manned sites, and let the community get involved and that will give everybody an equal chance to say what is on their mind. Jerry Carney stated that the answer is obvious and that is to get rid of or supervise the dumps. You are making the assumption that people will throw trash along the highway, but just look at the trash on the highway just getting to and from these dumpsters, and as long as you keep them you are going to see that. Mr. Nance suggested that they have the county finance director and public works director to be involved in this process also. Mr. Patton stated that he would ask that Keep Crisp Beautiful be a part of this group also. Mr. Henderson amended his motion to form the task force to comply with Mr. Nance's recommendation of adding the finance director and the public works director to the task force, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper that the committee be formed no later than by 3:00 p.m. Friday, September 14, 2012, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
ROBERT POWELL'S COMMENTS
Robert Powell stated that he has owned property in this county since 1976; he has been on the Board of Assessors for eight years and it was never mentioned to lower the salaries of the Tax Assessors until he came before the commission and argued about a millage rate increase. If we are going to talk about salaries, let's talk about salaries of other appointed officials. He has done some research, and he stated that the chairman of the commissioners is paid $20,242 a year, and two commissioners are paid $18,789, and the other two are paid $18,110.00. That is a lot but the benefits that these non-full-time employees get are health insurance is paid at $12,185 for chairman, 12,074 on each other commissioner except Mr. Harris, who is on social security. Also, in the benefit is a retirement plan where each commissioner gets $885 a year contributed to a retirement plan that the citizens pay. All are documented from the finance director. Also, they each can sit on the power commission six months and get paid another $100 for attending those meetings; along with if they attend an IDC meeting they get another $50. He has information off of the website of Association County Commissioners of Georgia that states that Lee County pays their commissioners $9,420 a year, Sumter County, who the tax assessors were compared with, makes $7,351, Bibb County pays $13,395, but he doesn't know what the benefits are in these counties, and he also went over some other county commission salaries. Look at how much we the taxpayers are paying the commissioners. Sumter County stopped contributing to a retirement plan, Crisp County is still contributing to a plan, and the chairman's salary is $8,611 versus $20,000 here. He got these numbers from the finance director in Sumter County. These numbers are astounding from his standpoint. In the eight years that he has been a tax assessor, no commissioner or finance person has ever talked to him about the salaries until this past year after he stood up here. He will say that the tax assessors salary was high but to cut other salaries and the commissioners will not even look at their own-let's look at everything. He stated that it has been said that the Tax Assessor's Board costs this county $1 million, but back in 2009, the Tax Assessors' Board voted not to go through a re-evaluation as some of them knew that property values were to be frozen for two years. We froze property values by taking that option for three years, we did cause Crisp County to lose $1 million in tax revenue, which comes from you the taxpayer. Did we do something wrong? We have a $10,000 fine that is still in arbitration but that is $10,000 versus $1 million. Compared to all counties around this area, we are paying an astronomical fortune, and he agrees that they were overpaid, but go to the county commissioners' site, look at theirs. He also advised that they spent $190,000 for the re-evaluation,, and it was said that they should do that themselves, but they don't have the people to do this work as they have four and it will take about eight employees. The Board of Assessors try to do a good job, they have taken their salary cut, and he asked the commissioners to vote their salary the same as Sumter County, look at the hearth insurance plan and change that. Mr. Henderson asked Mr. Powell if he agreed that reassessment should be an ongoing process. Mr. Powell stated that if they give them the number of people that the state says they should have, then they could do it.
VELECIA GRANT COMMENTS
Velecia Grant requested that the Board of Commissioners change the commission meeting time as the meetings are on the second Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. Most people that work are not able to attend these meetings, and the reason she can attend is that she is retired. Most people want to attend and participate, she is requesting the board consider the time change and get back with them. Chairman Mathis thanked her for her comments.
BRANDON PERRRY COMMENTS
Brandon Perry stated that he and his mother are owners of Hillcrest Property Solutions, LLC. At his residence, 1706 South 6th Street, the road dead ends, and at some point it was supposed to be developed. It has never been developed and it doesn't get maintained like it should, hopefully now it will as he thanked Carl Gamble, Public Works Director, for the work they have done in that area. They do have a problem as there is a storm water drain that runs under 7th Street, almost to their back door, and that water has started affecting their personal property. Over the years this problem has gradually gotten worse, and he asked if there was anything that the county can help them with. They also get a lot of trash that comes from the road plus they are not able to use about 200 feet of their property because of this issue. Chairman Mathis stated that he had looked at this problem the other day when they talked, but they will do an on-site visit and see if there is anything else the county can do.
WILLIAM BROOKARD'S COMMENTS
William Brookard asked if there was some way that the tax payers of Crisp County can be informed to the level to where they know and understand where everybody's going; he is one of those that wants to know. He suggested that a complete budget be put in the paper and on the TV in order that they can be informed as a lot of older people don't have computers to get this information. He commended each commissioner as they have garnered the support of their constitutes to be honorable in pursuing the duties in their best interest. We need to really start looking at this as being government of, by, and for the people and not for special interests or not sitting on a board because they don't get more money. If they are there for the money, they are in the wrong place.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR'S REPORT
Administrator Patton reported that 1) he attended several meetings this past month; 2) he and Chairman Mathis attended a GDOT T-SPLOST implementation meeting with GDOT officials sponsored by River Valley Regional Commission. No new information that we did not already know. We were thanked for supporting the referendum. The important part is the 25% that is coming back to the county, which amounts to about $850,000 a year that we can use within the county for transportation projects, and we don't have to get approval from GDOT to do that. He commended the citizens for being smarter than 90% of other Georgians for voting and passing this. Transportation Commissioner Johnny Floyd was elected as the Chairman of the Transportation Commission; 3) he participated in a IDC Strategic Plan Committee meeting. The goal was to update the Strategic Plan to reflect the future. They battered around ideas with plans to meet again to formulate a new plan; 4) he attended a PR conference for Darton College and received updates on progress and future plans from the College President, Engineer and architect; 5) he worked through several road complaints from citizens; 6) he received several complaints on the area garbage dump sites. There are basically three options. First, do away with them, next, go curb side pickup, and lastly, operate 3.5 manned sites. He is working on cost estimates for the manned sites; 7) he had a meeting with Main street Development and downtown business people to find ways to reinvigorate the downtown business organization; 8) he worked with EMA and Sheriff's Department on preparation for possible hurricane that was initially predicted to hit us, fortunately for us it went west and came ashore in Louisiana; and 9) he was guest speaker for the Kiwanis Club. He spoke on the future of Crisp County, basically moving forward and the expected growth that we predict.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to go into Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to adjourn the meeting at 12:01 p.m., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.