The Henry County Board of
Commissioners held a called public meeting at 9:00 a.m., on Tuesday, August 24,
2004, in the Community Room,
Leland Maddox, Chairman, presiding
Warren E. Holder, District I Commissioner
Jason T. Harper, District III Commissioner
Gerry Adams, District IV Commissioner
****Gary M. Freedman, District II Commissioner – (Absent)
Linda G. Angus,
Commissioner Harper made a motion to accept the agenda with the following amendments – 1) Add “Request Approval to add to the Intersection Improvements Section of the SPLOST II Designation List the Peeksville Road/S.R. 42 Intersection” (Emergency SPLOST, Item V.A.); and 2) Add “Request Approval to Modify the D.O.T. District IV Priority List by Adding Scott Boulevard to the Resurfacing List” (Emergency SPLOST, Item V.B.); Commissioner Adams seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Maddox, Holder, Harper and Adams in favor. (Commissioner Holman was absent during this vote.)
REGARDING FUNDING FROM DISTRICT IV
Chairman Maddox read a proposed resolution approving
the purchase of picnic tables for
$7 MILLION UNALLOCATED BUDGET:
Ms. Angus presented a listing of projects for the Board to consider budgeting out of the $7 million of unallocated funds. She stated the two most complex issues in the proposal are the public works allocation and the fleet allocations. Commissioner Harper suggested the projects numbered one through 14 be considered individually by the Board.
Commissioner Holder asked whether there is any Contingency in the budget over and above the subject $7 million. Ms. Angus stated the originally adopted General Fund budget includes a $1 million Contingency. She noted there is also a $500,000 allocation for payroll issues included in the General Fund budget. She stated performance pay and longevity pay is already budgeted in the General Fund. Commissioner Holder noted Sheriff Chaffin informed the Commissioners it may be necessary to pay $40,000 per month to board prisoners in other jurisdictions due to jail overcrowding. Ms. Angus stated the General Fund budget has been stripped of any discretionary money, and the subject $7 million is all that is remaining against needs of approximately $40 million.
Ms. Angus stated “if we could continue to carry the stormwater funding as a receivable to the General Fund and a payable of the stormwater fee pool, regardless of who takes it over; if we fund it we need to fund it with a fee; the General Fund can’t carry it and that is just a fact. If the Water and Sewerage Authority ultimately takes it over, or if this Regional Stormwater group, which has really gotten a lot of work done recently, takes it over, someone will have to repay the General Fund. I think we are in the type of financial shape that’s going to require something like that. We can’t fund stormwater from the General Fund. You may be able to take this one hit, but you can’t fund it ultimately. You are not going to have the money to do it. So, if you would allow me, by resolution, to reestablish that $1.2 million as a receivable to the General Fund, you then have $1 million that I suggest could go for road projects and $200,000 for small equipment that you could set aside again in a Contingency fund in addition to the $1 million that is already in the General Fund and be sure that the jail or whatever else comes up this year is going to be covered.”
(Vice-Chairman Holman entered the meeting at 9:15 a.m.)
Commissioner Holder stated the Board needs to make sure Contingency is sufficient to fund emergencies, such as a flood. Ms. Angus stated for future reference, the Board needs to remember “we set aside 25% of our spending allocation because you, as a Board, wanted to do that a few years ago. We set aside 25% of our spending allocation in Fund Balance. Wall Street loves that. A few who issue bonds may look at that; it makes you appear stable and it makes your interest rate on the bond better. If you lower that to 20%, which you could do at any time, then you would have, in this case, about $5 million that you could free up, but it is a shift away from the conservative posture you’ve taken. As you go forward, though, particularly with this election in November on the freezing of assessments, that issue, you may be looking at using that money. So we do have other things that you can do that may not be that palatable, but you may end up doing it. The stormwater issue, instead of putting it on road projects and small equipment, if you would establish that as a receivable, continue to carry that as a receivable instead of an expense, you’ll free up $1.2 million today and our Contingency would go from $1 million to $2.2 million.
Chairman Maddox stated he would like to address the stormwater management program. He asked “where are we at this point in time with the stormwater. In your own opinion is it a good idea for this Board to continue with the stormwater, or would it be something that we would consider talking with the Water Authority about and relieving us of that burden and of the money that might be coming out of the General Fund.” Ms. Angus said the best approach is “let us define the costs that we need to capture, that stormwater has to pay for, for the next six months because our stormwater team is on track. They are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Carry it for six months, at which time we will charge them to determine the cost to the County, besides their efforts, the cost to the County of implementing stormwater besides their efforts. That is in Building Inspection, Plan Review and that kind of thing. Define those costs and then as we give stormwater away, in part of the deal we get those costs back because I’m afraid you won’t get them if you don’t do it in one package. Today we don’t know what detention ponds and development costs and all those things we are going to have to carry if we don’t find that funding source. Because of that, it would be reasonable to carry this liability and when we give the stormwater, if we give the stormwater effort away ultimately to the Regional Authority or to the Water and Sewerage Authority, give them the debt; say take this $2.5 million of debt that is owed to the General Fund. We’d pay us with the fees set and also on an annual basis you must pay x, y and z of our inspection fees, development and plan review costs in Planning. And then the County is not harmed at all and we don’t need to carry more cost going forward; we can’t afford it.”
Chairman Maddox stated “if it’s going to hurt our General Fund and the Water Authority is someone we can talk to and maybe get them to talk to us about it and see where we stand, I think we need to do it before six months is up providing they will accept what we already have done, and if it would just be a matter of changing it over. I think it would save us some time and money.” Ms. Angus stated “unless we are willing to establish the fee structure that has to go with the project, we can’t do it.” Chairman Maddox stated someone will have to establish a fee structure. Ms. Angus stated “I have more faith in our financial oversight than I do anyone else’s, but that’s just a personal thing.”
Commissioner Holder stated he made the motion to fund stormwater out of the General Fund because “this is a one-time deal; I never intended for the General Fund to fund stormwater management from here on because there will be time that this will cost up to $5 million a year. The reason for it, if you will remember back, is because we were basically starting up a program and at the time had one or two employees, yet we were going to assess fees of $1.2 million from our citizens and we were not providing the service. It was not up and running, so we were actually going to get money before the services were performed. It never was the intent, and I feel strongly about the Water Authority having it, I mean, it is clearly obvious that is the agency that is responsible for our clean water, but we’ve been down that road before. One thing before we leave financing positions, I know Ms. Angus has indicated we have some money problems. I know we have guests here today and I want it to be made clear we have in fund balance $25 million.”
Ms. Angus stated “that is correct. We are really in strong fiscal shape.” Commissioner Holder stated “I want you to know that it’s not broke, but we are operating on a very conservative budget to keep the fund balance high enough to where our bond ratings are low and we have reserves and if we ever run into a major catastrophe, we’ll have something we can fall back on. So, I just didn’t want the people to think we are broke. We’re not broke, but we are trying to be fiscally responsible is what it amounts to.”
Ms. Angus stated “that’s very true and our fiscal
health is excellent and I don’t want to be a doomsayer; it’s just as time goes
on, I want everybody to be very mindful that there is a long-term picture
that’s got to be maintained very closely and that’s why I continue to say
that. We are in excellent fiscal health
and we had a bond rating upgrade and we are responsible for the Hospital’s bond
rating upgrade and the
Ms. Angus continued “let me say, though, about stormwater. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing this NOI. We’ve got five people on staff. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with ARCADIS, who is the Water and Sewer Authority’s consultant on these issues. And so the Water and Sewer Authority and our group are working in tandem producing this NOI and we’re spending a lot of money.”
Chairman Maddox said “that is exactly why I wanted to bring this up. I had a long conversation with one of our Commissioners last night about it and it seems the more I think about the stormwater and we, as a Board, are looking after that, and we have a Water Authority. Sometimes I have made some mistakes. . . Maybe I made a mistake somewhere along the line of maybe not looking at the things quite as serious as it was and I would just like to say to the Board, I think we all need to look at it a little closer and see if maybe we might need to take a step back and say, ‘listen, they know more about water than we do,’ and what do we do at this point.”
Chairman Maddox said “I know we have a clause in our contract if we did let them have the stormwater, would they take what we’ve got going and pick up from there, meaning all the work we’ve done, plus the employees we have on board.”
Ms. Angus stated “we are in a strong negotiating position and it’s where we need to be. If you had turned this over initially, you would never be in a position to capture your costs again and I still think the way that we’ve gone about this has been very intelligent and I’ll never believe anything else. I think we’ve done the right thing, and I think this County has got to be sure we get our costs back.”
Chairman Maddox stated “I would like for us to continue talking about this one issue at a later date, a soon later date, and see what the rest of the Board feel. We need to sit down and put our heads together and see what we come up with and I’d like to do that as soon as we could.”
Ms. Angus stated she would prepare a study of the County’s costs.
Commissioner Holman stated “I’ve had recent
discussions with the Water Authority, I don’t want to say an official
discussion, with Lindy Farmer, and I’ve asked him to give me his opinion of
taking over the stormwater management.
One of the side trails we went down is, if we do that the Water
Authority will ask the Board of Commissioners, as they did early on when the
discussion began, to change the legislation.
I said ‘I’m not for that,
Commissioner Holman continued “Originally I was very
much in favor of
Commissioner Harper stated this is a discussion for another day, but if the Water Authority says they want local legislation, and the Board does it prior to December 31, it is his belief this sitting Board cannot ask for local legislation to be adopted at the next Legislative Session because this is not going to be the Board sitting. He noted there will be a new cumulative body of six people in office on January 1 and there are Legislators that have not been sworn in which will be the County’s legislative delegation. He said this Board cannot bind a future Board of Commissioners; the Board must wait until January 1st to ask for local legislation for the 2005 Legislative Session.
Ms. Angus responded to the Commissioners’ comments, “you have hired a very competent staff; in every effort we have competent people working. You have done a good job at putting a good professional staff together and you discredit all of us when you start talking about our incompetence because we are not. The Water and Sewer Authority does not operate in such a public setting that people can attend their meetings. There is not the interest, but note this, that two mills of taxes that everyone pays funds water and sewer. Whether a person in this County receives it or not they are paying for it on the tax bills. Whether that was a good idea or not, everything at the Water Authority is not perfect, either, but I believe you have put together a very competent stormwater team.”
Commissioner Harper stated “I don’t think they are incompetent at all and I can tell you I will not vote to transfer it to the Water Authority unless there is a written confirmation they will take all those employees because we solicited those employees for their qualifications from near and far and brought those people here and I’m not going to bring them here and then terminate them. That’s just not their fault that we’re transferring them to another governmental entity. In my discussion with the Water Authority, which has been brief, was that they would take those employees because they thought they were doing a fine job and I wouldn’t support it unless they did.”
Commissioner Holman stated “just so that Commissioner Harper will know, I am not in favor of changing local legislation. . . I believe that was originally what they came in front of the Board of Commissioners and that is where we got into a very heated debate. I believe there’s hope that the Water Authority would be able to do stormwater without local legislation and it can be an agreement between the Board of Commissioners and the Water Authority. And, I also have to make the comment, and by no means, as I was guilty of this early in my term, but I am not using the word incompetence. Now, I will be guilty of not knowing or understanding what the stormwater management team is doing, but I will not allow myself to be penned with the word saying that staff is incompetent. I won’t take that charge at all, but I am guilty of being ignorant of what they do.”
Commissioner Holder said concerning the local legislation, “some of this could be worked through in the group, but local legislation, I think, is going to be part of making it work to give them the authority to do some of the things we are talking about. Mr. Gardner, if you will remember, summed it up in simplistic terms. . . He said, ‘all we’re asking for is to give us the tools to do the job.’ That’s the main thing; they need the tools to be able to accomplish the goals. As far as the present personnel, there is no doubt as far in speaking at length with some of the people in the Water Authority, there is no doubt our people that are on staff today are highly respected by the Water Authority in their abilities and accomplishments. As far as being able to transfer them to the Water Authority, I don’t think that’s a problem. I think this is a time where we need to put a package together. . . I don’t think the long-term effect of this is going to be without some local legislation. Does it have to be presented before January 1, I don’t say that it does, but I think in time there will have to be legislation.”
$7 MILLION UNALLOCATED FUNDS:
1. $1.2 million – Stormwater Interim Funding:
Commissioner Holder made a motion to classify the “Stormwater Funding Commitment” as a receivable to the General Fund versus an expense of the General Fund, to free up $1.2 million ($1 million-Contingency; $200,000-Small Equipment); Commissioner Harper seconded.
Ms. Angus stated this motion would “change the accounting entry that you (Board of Commissioners) directed us to make from an expense, which is an income statement item, to a receivable, which is a balance sheet item, and you will free up $1.2 million and the funding for the $1.2 million for that receivable will come from whoever has the stormwater that establishes the fees.”
Commissioner Holman stated “I don’t understand it; you’re not receiving an income stream right now, so all you’re going to do is change that and say $1.2 million the Board of Commissioners funded stormwater management and the motion that’s on the table now is going to say, ‘okay, we don’t have that income stream of $1.2 million, but that’s what you’re going to call it.”
Ms. Angus stated, “But we know that it is going to be funded through a fee and we will, at that point, be paid back. Do you know the initial $800,000 last year that we funded stormwater with is on the balance sheet as a receivable; it was not carried as an expense. It’s accounting and you’d have to sit through a half-hour explanation of income statement and balance sheet and how it works for me to explain this any further.”
Commissioner Holman asked how much has been collected so far for stormwater management. Ms. Angus stated none has been collected. Commissioner Holman asked when staff anticipates collecting for stormwater management. Ms. Angus stated “when we purchased the Alexander Park property, we borrowed over a ten year period to purchase that. It’s the same thing. That’s a liability; this is a receivable; both are balance sheet items and the expense this year for that park is $300,000; it’s not $3 million.”
Commissioner Holman said “I can’t believe this Board’s getting ready to actually tell the citizens that we’ve already paid for the five member staff at $1.2 million and today we’re going to turn around and borrow that money. I’m against that.” Ms. Angus stated “we’re not borrowing money; we’re loaning it.” Commissioner Harper said “instead of charging it against ourselves and writing it off as a $1.2 million loss, we’re going to make it a receivable. That way when we transfer it to the Water Authority, they owe us $1.2 million and we’re going to pay the General Fund back.”
Commissioner Holder’s motion passed by a vote of 3-1-1, with Commissioners Maddox, Holder and Harper in favor; Commissioner Holman opposed; and Commissioner Adams absent during this vote.
2. Fire Department Personnel - $656,000:
(12 Firefighters @ $45,000 annualized @ 75%)
Ms. Angus stated the Fire Department’s original request was for 30 Firefighters. She stated the request includes three Lieutenants and nine Firefighters and allows the Fire Department to place a manpower squad in service by utilizing the hazardous materials response vehicle, which was purchased through a grant last year. She said as other fire stations come live, they will have to be staffed. Ms. Angus noted the Fire Department requested personnel to place three on each fire truck, however, the additional personnel she recommends the Board approve will not accomplish this.
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve the 12 Firefighters at $45,000 each annualized on a 75% basis; Commissioner Adams seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 3-1, with Commissioners Harper, Adams and Holder in favor; and Commissioner Holman abstaining.
3. Police Department Personnel - $656,000:
5 Community Service Personnel @ $40,000
15 Police Officers @ $45,000 annualized @ 75%
Ms. Angus stated the Community Service personnel would function as non-sworn personnel to assist the agency in performing tasks that do not require the services of a Police Officer. She said the 15 additional sworn officers would help address call volume. Mr. Magnaghi stated the Community Service personnel would not require take-home vehicles and equipment. He stated the Community Service Officer concept is to make a determination on the type of call and whether you send a sworn officer or non-sworn officer. He said a Community Service Officer could respond to such calls as lawn mower theft, etc. He said they would work intersections during high volume traffic.
Commissioner Holman stated “it looks like we are going over and rehashing the budget.” He asked whether the Board is “redoing the budget that we’ve already gone through.” He asked “how did this end up being in this position.” He asked how many unfilled positions exist in the Police Department. Mr. Magnaghi stated there are currently 30 something unfilled positions in the Police Department. Commissioner Holman asked “why do we have 30 unfilled positions?”
Ms. Angus stated “what we did when we prepared the compensation plan was found the average of the market for the Metro area and then went down 20 percent and up 20 percent from the average. So, when we start police officers we are not at the height market for the pool we draw from and that is an issue that probably needs to be addressed. Police officers do not make a lot of money, do not make enough money and $5,000 difference to them is significant and that may be something we need to address now.” Ms. Angus stated “our benefits are healthy. Our health insurance for a family is $900 per month.”
Commissioner Holder asked what the County’s problem is in filling the existing vacancies other than compensation. Ms. Angus stated “money is an issue, but I think the other thing is the instability that comes when every time the discussion comes up about moving the Police Department to the Sheriff’s Department, it creates an atmosphere of instability and people start to look for other places that look more stable. It’s an issue.”
Mr. Magnaghi stated “you are also dealing in a market that’s also very volatile. The entire Metropolitan area has problems with growth trying to pull from a certain number of officers that are available. Many of the larger counties with somewhat higher pay, and I personally think that the pay issue is not the overriding issue, but you are drawing from a market where you have young officers that will change from one department to another for 25 cents an hour in some cases because that becomes important to them. There are only so many officers in the pool.”
Chairman Maddox asked why there is only a $5,000 differential between the Community Service personnel and certified officers. Ms. Angus stated the salaries for Community Service personnel are similar to Code Enforcement personnel because the duties are similar. Chairman Maddox stated he questions there only being a $5,000 difference because of the added liability for police officers.
Commissioner Holman asked “since the County Manager and Deputy County Manager have brought it up as an issue that is causing problems in filling the 30 slots, would you mind sharing with me, since it has been a discussion for quite some time, and I don’t care how you present it, I would like to know the financial difference, if any, some of the ramifications. . . of the so-called abolishment of the Police Department/consolidation of the Police/Sheriff. . .” Ms. Angus stated “no one has studied that, yet, and I think that that is an issue that is of such importance that it deserves attention and we are not prepared, no one is prepared today to deal with that. We’re trying to fund. . . You asked me to put together a list to spend the $7 million and this is what this is, and if we can get through it, I’m so glad to talk about anything, but if we could get through it, I know you have House Bill 489 on your agenda.”
Commissioner Holman said “maybe we can narrow the scope of the question and what would be the consequences of us authorizing this money to the Police Department if there were a merger.” Ms. Angus stated “regardless of where that issue goes, you’ve got to address response time with bodies, with police officers. The County is growing.”
Commissioner Holder made a motion to approve the request for five Community Officer positions and 15 Police Officers, to be funded only after the 30 vacancies we currently have are filled; Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Harper and Adams in favor.
4. Public Works - $2,000,000:
1 large Patching Crew, 2 Small Patching Crews, and
1 Chip & Seal Crew annualized @ 75% ($1,000,000)
Maintenance Funding – All Districts ($500,000)
School Projects Current Year Funding ($500,000)
Ms. Angus presented Public Works requests as itemized above. Commissioner Holman said he observed the activities of the large Chip Patching Crew in District V and he was impressed with the work ethic and team spirit.
Commissioner Holman made a motion to authorize the expenditure of $1 million for one large patching crew, two small patching crews and one chip and seal crew annualized @ 75%; $500,000 for maintenance funding for all districts; and $500,000 for school projects during the current year (the entire Item #4 provided by Ms. Angus); Commissioner Harper seconded.
Commissioner Holder stated for the
record “I support, have always supported, D.O.T. and the maintenance that they
do, but unless we have a noticeable improvement, we talk about police response
times and I’m talking about response times and repairs being done on our roads,
I will work, and that’s not a threat, it is a promise, I will work just as hard
to make the D.O.T. a maintenance crew and forget the rest of it as I am in
supporting this. I want to make that
clear because we have spent tons and tons and tons of money and we still have a
lot of stalling in the D.O.T. I’m not
Commissioner Holman stated he supports Commissioner Holder’s diligence and he wants Commissioner Holder to observe the performance of the D.O.T. He said “if I were a sole Commissioner, I’d probably have already done what Commissioner Holder is recommending. We would farm out all of our D.O.T. work, but this Board and the future Board, if they want to do something like that, they need to set aside the money in a pot so that when we do identify a problem, that we call that contractor and identify the scope of the work and we have that money sitting there for expenditure for Henry County road improvements.”
Mr. Harris stated “we recognize that has been an issue within the Department and as you notice from what our request is, the crews we are asking for are strictly maintenance-related crews.” He noted “our challenge is keeping our level of service and trying to establish and maintain a level of service and we have not had the manpower in the past years and this will definitely help towards. . .” Commissioner Holder asked “and you think this will do it?” Mr. Harris responded “this is a step in that direction. Again our initial request was for five crews, and with the budget constraints we had, the number is down to three crews. You should see a noticeable difference.”
Commissioner Holman stated at a recent meeting the Chairman voiced a complaint about work on Flat Rock bridge. Chairman Maddox stated he met with Mr. Harris about his complaint and it has been resolved.
Ms. Angus stated “when we started on our resurfacing program this last year, we got pricing for the patching that had to take place before the resurfacing could and did it ourselves because of the incredible cost and the money was not going to go as far. So, you can farm work out, but it’s always a cost issue and now we are gathering cost data.”
Commissioner Holman’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holman, Holder, Harper and Adams in favor.
5. Fleet - $930,645
$4 million purchase bank over a 3-year period @ 8
Months of 12
Ms. Angus stated many vehicles have in excess of 100,000 miles. She said the fleet needs to be upgraded at a total of approximately $4 million, which, if amortized over a three year period that our financial relationship with ACCG will allow, would have to be funded for eight months in the amount of $930,645.
Commissioner Adams made a motion to approve $930,645 as requested by Ms. Angus for fleet upgrades; Commissioner Harper seconded for discussion.
Chairman Maddox stated the County needs to make sure appropriate vehicles are purchased for different purposes. He questioned whether some of the four-wheel vehicles in the County’s fleet are necessary. Ms. Angus stated she does not know what has happened in the past, but “our approach today, people have slowed down asking for things because we don’t let any one purchase go through without being sent and questioned two or three times by different people. I think our Purchasing has been really tightened up and you are not going to see extravagances here.”
Ms. Angus stated the exhibit provided to the Board shows the age of the County’s fleet. She said cars will only be replaced when necessary.
Commissioner Harper stated if all the vehicles listed in the Board’s exhibit are replaced, 17% of all County employees will have new vehicles. Ms. Angus stated the only cars purchased last year were out of Narcotics Funds.
Commissioner Holman asked why the County owns as many diesel vehicles as it does. He asked whether we have diesel, untaxed fuel available at the pump stations. Ms. Angus stated she did not know the answer to this question. She noted the County also owns electric cars that no one will drive. Commissioner Holder stated alternative fuel vehicles were purchased in past years because there were certain requirements the County had to meet in the past to comply with the Clean Air Act.
Commissioner Adams’ motion passed by a vote of 3-1,
with Commissioners Holder,
6. Sheriff – Personnel - $135,000
4 Officers @ $45,000 each annualized @ 75%
Ms. Angus stated Sheriff Chaffin requested four additional Officers. She said because of the additional volume, the Sheriff’s Office will need to give up funeral procession services if these officers are not funded.
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve this request; Commissioner Adams seconded.
Commissioner Holder said the Sheriff’s Department is in the same growth pattern as other departments. He asked Sheriff Chaffin if he has agreed to only an additional four Officers. Sheriff Chaffin stated he only asked for four Officers. Commissioner Holman said the Board should compare four additional Officers (Sheriff’s Department) to twelve (Police Department). Ms. Angus stated the Board would have to compare the total budget of each department and the total duties of each department and then proportionately evaluate the requests.
Ms. Angus stated the Building Department has requested additional personnel, but the areas being focused on in this budget year are fleet, transportation and public safety.
Commissioner Holman stated money is not included on the list for use of the unallocated funds for the purchase of Parks and Recreation land. Ms. Angus stated any land purchase for recreation will be funded out of impact fees.
Commissioner Adams asked Sheriff Chaffin if he has any vacant positions. Sheriff Chaffin stated he may have one vacancy, but he manages to keep his positions filled.
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Harper, Holder, Holman and Adams in favor.
7. District Attorney - $180,000
Two Assistant D.A. Positions @ $120,000
Annualized @ 75%
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve the request from the District Attorney for $180,000; Commissioner Holder seconded.
Ms. Angus stated the District Attorney asked for four positions, but this request is for two attorneys. She said this amount does not include any support staff.
Commissioner Holman asked whether this request was submitted since the budget was adopted. Ms. Angus stated the Board did not approve any new positions in the adopted budget, even though there were requests.
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Harper, Holder, Holman and Adams in favor.
8. Court Clerks - $78,750
Three @ $35,000 annualized @ 75%
Ms. Angus stated the Superior Court Clerk has requested two Court Clerk positions and the Chief Magistrate has requested one Court Clerk.
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve Ms. Angus’ recommendation of $78,750; Commissioner Holman seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked whether the Courts generate enough in fees and fines to fund their activities. Commissioner Holder stated fees go into the General Fund. Commissioner Holman asked whether the County is spending more in the Courts than what their revenue generates. Ms. Angus said that is not known because government does not work that way. She said the one department which should be self-sufficient is the Building Department.
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 3-0 with Commissioners Holder, Holman and Adams in favor. Commissioner Harper was absent during this vote.
9. Employee Insurance Policy Change - $200,000:
Health Insurance Policy Change from Blue Cross/
Blue Shield to United Health Care with Benefit
Enhancement Regarding Referral Requirements
Commissioner Holman made a motion to approve the Employee Insurance Policy Change ($200,000); Commissioner Adams seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 3-0, with Commissioners Holman, Holder and Adams in favor. Commissioner Harper was absent during this vote.
10. Courthouse Annex - $157,595:
$2,040,000 financed over 10-year Period @ 8 months
Of 12 – with balance funding by SPLOST
Ms. Angus stated this is a project the Board has already approved to come from these funds and the number reflected is the amount to be paid this year out of the financing effort.
Commissioner Holder made a motion to approve; Commissioner Adams seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked how many loans the County has. Ms. Angus stated she will provide a debt-service schedule to the Board. Commissioner Holman asked whether the current Board has more loans than previous Boards. Ms. Angus stated she does not know that answer. She said “when you chose to purchase the Alexander Park land, your choice was take $3.4 million out of the budget last year, which wasn’t budgeted, or to fund it over ten years, or to not do it, and every time a debt has been taken on, it has not been without thought and debate by this Board.”
Commissioner Adams stated “I wouldn’t be surprised if
we had borrowed the most because we are the fastest growing county in
Commissioner Holder’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Adams, Harper and Holman in favor.
11. Old Courthouse Project (Renovation) - $219,165:
$2,837,000 financed over 10-year period @ 8
Months of 12
Ms. Angus stated the Board established a Committee to review the Old Courthouse project and they have hired an architecture and structural engineer. She said the Committee is requesting $2.8 million to refurbish and structurally assist the Old Courthouse.
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve this request; Commissioner Adams seconded.
Chairman Maddox stated he has questions about this project costing twice as much as the refurbishing of an adjacent County’s Courthouse.
Ms. Angus stated if this is approved, before this becomes a reality, those plans are going to be scrutinized by staff and the Board. She said part of what has happened to the Old Courthouse, particularly, is it was updated 20 or 30 years ago which affected its historical significance.
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 3-1, with Commissioners Holder, Harper and Adams in favor; and Commissioner Holman opposed.
12. A Friend’s House - $125,000: (annual allocation)
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve the annual allocation for A Friend’s House; Commissioner Adams seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked what this is for and why it is not in the budget recently adopted. Commissioner Harper stated it is an annual allocation which helps fund A Friend’s House. Ms. Angus said “it was not in the budget because both years you have said to me ‘don’t put that in your budget.’” Ms. Angus stated the County has an agreement with A Friend’s House for services. Commissioner Harper said the facility houses abused and neglected children. Commissioner Holder said if the agency does not provide the service, the County will have to provide the entire service at a much higher cost.
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Harper, Adams and Holman in favor.
Commissioner Adams made a motion to approve this request; Commissioner Harper seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked what this agency provides
and where they are located. Commissioner
Harper stated the shelter is in an undisclosed location, but their headquarters
is located on
Commissioner Adams’ motion passed by a vote of 3-0, with Commissioners Adams, Harper and Holman in favor. Commissioner Holder was absent during this vote.
14. Airport Allocation - $603,188:
$13 million land purchases to be funded over a 10 to 20-
Year period with anticipated reimbursement from the FAA
At a rate of 90 to 95%
Commissioner Adams stated he works for
Chairman Maddox asked why this matter is being discussed in public session since it is pertaining to a land purchase. Mr. Jaugstetter stated the Board is considering a budget amendment and is not authorizing the purchase of land.
Commissioner Harper made a motion to allocate the funds for this year, with the notation the Board has not bought the airport, it is just allocating enough money to cover it should the Board choose to purchase; Commissioner Holder seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked what
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 3-1-1, with Commissioners Maddox, Harper and Holder in favor; Commissioner Holman opposed; and Commissioner Adams abstaining.
15. Small Equipment - $49,657:
Commissioner Harper made a motion to approve the amount for Small Equipment; Commissioner Holder seconded.
Commissioner Holman asked what will be purchased with the $49,657. Ms. Angus stated one example is the Juvenile Court’s request for a recording system in its Court.
Commissioner Holman stated the current budget is $93 million. He asked what the budget was for the previous year. Ms. Angus answered $86 million. Commissioner Holman stated “the assumption you are making, which I don’t buy, is that the $86 million budget didn’t have any, and I hate to use this word, fluff; that it was cut to the bone. $30 million of our current budget is what, payroll?” Ms. Angus stated $40 million is payroll. Commissioner Holman said “it just doesn’t add up. I know that it does on a balance sheet.” Commissioner Harper said “if you have a $86 million budget last year and again you budgeted $86 million this year, that means you have held spending steady. Even in light of our explosive growth rate we held spending exactly the same as it was last year and have $7 million left through our growth. That’s $93 million and that’s what we are spending today by deciding, of all the requests, which ones we are going to budget for today. She held spending at $86 million two years in a row.” Commissioner Holman said “I hear your argument, but for that to be fundamentally true, the $86 million would have to be a very pared, studied, reviewed, scrutinized budget, and there’s the issue that I’m unwilling to compare an $86 to an $86.”
Commissioner Harper’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Adams and Harper in favor.
(Ms. Angus departed the meeting.)
EMERGENCY SPLOST MATTERS:
1. Request approval to add to the Intersection Improvements section of the SPLOST II Designation List the Peeksville Road and S.R. 42 Intersection
Commissioner Holder made a motion to approve the resolution (Resolution No. 04-___); Commissioner Holman seconded.
Commissioner Holder stated this intersection is one of the most dangerous in his District. Commissioner Holman asked whether this intersection is in the City of Locust Grove. Commissioner Holder answered affirmatively, noting the City and State D.O.T. are also involved in this project. Mr. Harris stated the scope of the project has not been established, but it was on the original master list. Commissioner Holder stated this is actually two projects; the widening of S.R. 42 and another project in SPLOST II.
Commissioner Holder’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Harper and Adams in favor.
Request approval to modify the D.O.T. District IV
Priority List by adding
Commissioner Adams made a motion to approve the resolution to modify the D.O.T. District IV Priority List by adding Scott Boulevard to the resurfacing list; Commissioner Holman seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Harper and Adams in favor.
A recess was held.
House Bill 489 Discussion:
Mr. Tommy Smith requested consideration be given for the Board to convene into executive session to discuss House Bill 489 agreements on the premises there will be “pending litigation.”
Chairman Maddox asked Mr. Jaugstetter for his opinion. Mr. Jaugstetter stated under the Open Records Law, until the County has a threat in hand of litigation or pending litigation, the matter cannot be discussed by the Board in executive session. He said there is potential litigation in every action and until the Board has in hand a legitimate claim for a potential lawsuit, it does not qualify as a matter for discussion in executive session.
Mr. Smith stated “the position the County is placed in now, this is like the second or third round of counter offers or counter discussion. I’m satisfied, based on what the cities have requested, I think it would be appropriate for consideration to be given by the Board to make a counter-offer. Now, if we discuss the items that are negotiable, then it would put the County at an unfair advantage as to how the same rules that some other cities have been in executive session to discuss and we would not be privileged of that. I’m thinking that a counter-offer be considered by the Board. If you want to discuss all the details, then that to me would be a violation of rules of engagement that the other parties or a party of the other parties has already exhibited.”
Commissioner Holman stated “I respect
Commissioner Holder stated it is somewhat of an “unlevel playing field” when other agencies have been able to discuss the agreements in executive session and the Board has not. Mr. Smith stated “I know for a fact that one of the parties of the party went into executive session under the pretense of potential litigation. The first ten or fifteen minutes the Attorney was present, and then the Attorney left and for the next hour and a half or two hours, the governing body discussed exclusively the contents of their proposal of House Bill 489.”
Chairman Maddox suggested the Board
adjourn and allow three Commissioners to discuss the agreements with the
Commissioners Adams, Harper and Holder stated they would prefer to meet in groups of three as long as a quorum is not present to discuss the agreements. Mr. Jaugstetter recommended three Commissioners at one time meet with Mr. Smith and him.
Chairman Maddox called a recess of this meeting until 3:30 p.m.
A recess was held.
The meeting reconvened at 3:30 p.m. with Commissioners Maddox, Harper, Holman, Holder and Adams present.
Chairman Maddox announced the Board is
not going to take any action concerning the House Bill 489 agreements today. He said the
Commissioner Adams made a motion to adjourn (3:40 p.m.); Commissioner Holman seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Adams, Holder, Holman and Harper in favor.
Leland Maddox, Chairman