STATE OF GEORGIA

 

 

COUNTY OF HENRY                        

 

 

The Henry County Board of Commissioners held a Called Meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 in the Community Room, County Administration Building, 140 Henry Parkway, McDonough, Georgia.  Notice of this meeting was posted on the bulletin board in the entrance foyer of the County Administration Building.  The Daily Herald was notified of this meeting.  Those present were:

 

            Leland Maddox, Chairman, presiding

            Lee Holman, Vice-Chairman, District V Commissioner

            Warren E. Holder, District I Commissioner

            Jason T. Harper, District III Commissioner

            Gerry Adams, District IV Commissioner

            ****Gary M. Freedman, District II Commissioner – (Absent)

 

Also attending were Linda Angus, County Manager; Susan Craig, County Clerk; Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney; and others.

 

Chairman Maddox called the meeting to order and asked for an Acceptance of the Agenda.  Commissioner Holman made the motion to accept the Agenda with the following Amendment: Change item V to “Executive BOC Meeting for real estate, personnel, and litigation,” and add item VI as “Adjournment.”  Commissioner Harper seconded; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Harper, Holman, Adams, and Holder voting in favor.

 

Chairman Maddox stated this meeting was called as a Millage Rate Hearing.  He said the millage rate has already been set; there was just an error in the advertisement. 

 

Chairman Maddox asked if there were any comments by the public; there was no response from the audience. 

 

Chairman Maddox said he opened the Public Hearing for the Millage Rate for comments, and since there were no comments, Commissioner Adams made the motion to close the Public Hearing; Commissioner Holman seconded.  The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Adams, Holman, Harper, and Holder voting in favor. 

 

Chairman Maddox said there is a SPLOST matter to be discussed regarding real estate, and he asked the Board if this should be handled in Executive Session. 

 

Mr. Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney, stated the construction of the Courthouse or the location of the Courthouse is not an Executive Session item. 

 

Ms. Angus said she knew for a fact that we have enough land between the Administration Building and the Jail to build a $35,000,000 building, and we have enough land across the street if the soccer field is moved.  Commissioner Harper said at some point in time, the Jail will have to be expanded.   Ms. Angus said her biggest concern is the $35,000,000 depends on the Board’s collective willingness to take all of the items they spoke about into account (selling certain parcels, taking money obligated to a park and transferring it, etc.); she said every piece has to be done to make it work.  She stated Mr. Lynn Bledsoe, SPLOST Program Manager, mentioned instead of building an 80,000 square foot building in McDonough, to construct a building that is 30,000 square feet less (50,000), and that will last up to five (5) years.  The idea is to build a cheaper building, more office space friendly, versus just designing it for Court.   A plan could be implemented in three to five years to build the Judicial Center in the Henry Complex area. 

 

Ms. Angus stated next summer, after the referendum passes in November, the Board will have to look at raising taxes every year.  She said what you are doing is pledging the full faith of the government behind a bond issue.

 

Chairman Maddox said another SPLOST will not pass or millage rates raised until the public sees transportation improvements completed.  He said once people see this, SPLOST will be easier to be passed in the future.

 

Commissioner Adams said he could not understand why it takes so long to design a road. 

 

Ms. Angus said a person has to sit where she sits and watch the paperwork move around.  She said she is pleased and thinks everything is “on track.”

 

Ms. Angus said with the two (2) new Superior Court Judges, the County is really out of space now.  Chairman Maddox said the old Courthouse has usable space, but it needs to be updated; there are courtrooms in there that can be used.   He said to renovate the Courthouse at a reasonable cost is productive, because it is usable space the County already has.  Ms. Angus said the space is not intended for them. 

 

Commissioner Harper stated his prediction, “we are going to last a while; but what will happen is, we are approved for four (4) Judges, but they rank them in order of need.  Our third Judge has moved to the top of the ‘crop,’ and just because we are approved, does not mean they are going to give us both of them; they may say Gwinnett is number 2, and Henry’s 4th Judge is number 10 on the list.  Just because they will fund our 3rd one does not mean they will fund our 4th one.  My prediction is we will get one funded this year, and we are still going to have one Courtroom empty.  The State does not have a lot of money to be appointing Judges, law clerks, and secretaries.  That is my prediction, and I am fairly sure I am right.”

 

Mr. Jaugstetter agreed and said the space at the Courthouse could accommodate a third Judge.  He said there is enough room for the Judges to preside in Courtrooms, but not enough room for everything that goes along with it.  There will be additional jurors, staff members, and files where room will be needed. 

 

Ms. Angus said the County now has a Public Defender and he was to move into the basement.  She met with the Public Defender and Superior Court Judge McGarity, and their response was the space in the basement was inadequate.  She said Judge Studdard of State Court will be approached and asked if he will consider using the Public Defender and expand the office, because it would be cheaper.  Ms. Angus stated normally the Public Defender is in a separate building. 

 

Commissioner Holder said when the new building is constructed, the long-range plans are to tear down the Juvenile Court’s building.  His suggestion was to leave the building in tact and move the Public Defender in that space. 

 

Commissioner Harper said it would be better to put the Public Defender in the Magistrate Court building; the Juvenile Court building is a “nightmare” for maintenance.  Ms. Angus said it is wet and moldy; it would take renovation to keep the building in working condition. 

 

Commissioner Harper asked, “how can you sell it to the public that the Board is going to spend $35,000,000 on a building when the Board has all of these roads to improve?” 

 

Chairman Maddox said it is not going to be easy to sell; it might be best to implement the plan downtown.  In three (3) to three and one half (3-1/2) years when all of the roads have been constructed, libraries have been built, animal shelter has been constructed, at that time we can look at the Judicial Center. 

 

Ms. Angus said the Board should look at the Public Safety money and do something meaningful with it.  She said the Police Department building is not a great building, and the Board needs to proceed and capture that funding. 

 

Commissioner Harper made the motion to authorize the Chairman to sign the contract for the award of the construction of the Courthouse Annex Building downtown with the caveat that the elevation of the building needs to be changed to look more traditional; Commissioner Holder seconded.  The motion carried 3-1-0 with Commissioners Harper, Holder, and Adams voting in favor, and Commissioner Holman voting against. 

 

Chairman Maddox asked the Board if they would like to discuss the letter they had received from the City of McDonough.  Commissioner Harper said he had written a sample response.  He said the letter stated there is a joint park meeting on August 20th, and the City needed our appointments by August 18th.  Commissioner Harper said his proposed response was, “we have not yet made appointments to that park authority, and any such meeting would lack a quorum.”  Referencing their issue with House Bill 489, his response would be, “we are in receipt of those agreements, and we are going to consider them and will respond as soon as possible.”  Commissioner Harper said the Board needs to call a meeting to go over that issue.  In regards to the Jonesboro Road median design, “that is $800,000 to $1.5 million depending on what proposal you take from them.  First of all, we do not have that much money, and secondly, if the Board spends that much money and does not have anything in place to maintain a vegetative median, the grass will grow and the trees will die from not being watered, and we will have wasted nearly $1 million.”

 

Commissioner Adams stated his thoughts are since we are drowning in traffic and intersections are being blocked because we are overwhelmed, the Jonesboro Road median issue should be considered in the future.

 

Chairman Maddox’s suggestion for the response on the proposed park on Jonesboro Road is, “at this time, the County has not determined whether it will proceed with a new park on Jonesboro Road or whether these funds would be better served in the community in some other manner or in another location.”

 

Chairman Maddox stated a “Called” meeting will be held on August 24, 2004 at 9:00 a.m. and asked the County Clerk, Ms. Susan B. Craig, to make sure it is advertised.

 

Commissioner Holman made the motion to adjourn; Commissioner Adams seconded; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Adams, Holder, and Harper voting in favor.

 

                                                            Leland Maddox, Chairman

 

Peggy L. Malcolm, Deputy County Clerk