STATE OF GEORGIA
The Henry County Board of Commissioners held a Called Public Meeting at 3:10 p.m., Thursday, May 6, 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 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
Gary M. Freedman, District II Commissioner
Gerry Adams, District IV Commissioner
Also attending were Linda G. Angus, County Manager; Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney; Susan B. Craig, County Clerk; Rob Magnaghi, Deputy County Manager/Public Safety Director; Danny Taylor, Economic Development Division Director; Michael Harris, Public Works Division Director; Tom Couch, Social Services Division Director; and others.
Commissioner Holman made a motion to accept the Agenda with the following amendment:
1. 1. Add Item VII.B. – “Tanger Boulevard.”
Commissioner Holder seconded. Commissioner Freedman asked whether the amendment is an emergency. Commissioner Holder said it is an emergency because it is a situation involving liability and the road opening.
Commissioner Holman’s motion passed by a vote of 4-0, with Commissioners Freedman, Holder, Holman and Adams in favor.
Chairman Maddox repeated his request to extend the review period for 60-days, which would be July 6th. Chairman Maddox said that would not be a good day because that is a Regular Board of Commissioners Meeting date. He said he did not have a problem extending the time, but questioned the length of time Mr. Marsengill suggested.
Chairman Maddox directed his question to Danny Taylor, Economic Development Division Director, “when is the review going to be ready for them to analyze.” Mr. Taylor said, “whenever they would like it; we can get it to them by tomorrow.”
Commissioner Holder added, “in response to the request of the Steering Committee, I would like to make a motion to allow the Steering Committee up to 60-days as a review period. They may need 25, 45 or whatever number of days, but up to 60-days.” Commissioner Freedman seconded. Chairman Maddox asked the Steering Committee to notify the Board when they are ready to make their presentation; Commissioner Holder said he would make that part of his motion.
Commissioner Holman asked if the Steering Committee had any comments on what they have already been presented. He asked if there were areas the Committee would like to see HDR address.
Mr. Marsengill said, “yes, we have received and reviewed that document and presented our comments and concerns to the consultant. It is our understanding the sum of our comments have been addressed and some revisions have been made.”
Commissioner Holman responded, “I thought when this meeting was called with HDR and the Steering Committee, we would have dialogue to find out where the short-falls are and where we are going. What I am seeing of this meeting is a meeting to ‘have a meeting,’ and there is no dialogue or discussion and nothing is being revealed. I think this is a waste of time for the Steering Committee; I do not understand the purpose of today’s gathering.”
Mr. Marsengill said, “sir, today’s gathering was to discuss the revisions that had been made; however, we have not seen the most recent copy of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.”
Commissioner Adams ‘called the question;’ Commissioner Freedman seconded. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Adams, Freedman, Holman and Holder voting in favor.
The motion to allow the Steering Committee up to 60-days as a review period carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Adams, Freedman, Holman and Holder voting in favor.
Mr. Marsengill asked to have a joint meeting with the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission at the completion of the Steering Committee’s review to discuss comments with both bodies.
Commissioner Holder said he wanted to thank the members of the Steering Committee because it has been a long process. He commended them for not wanting to move hastily into something they did not have all of the information on. He said it takes a commitment, and it is a public service on a 20-year plan.
Request Approval of the BOC Minutes for the April 19th and 20th Meetings.
Commissioner Holder moved to approve the BOC Minutes for April 19th and 20th; Commissioner Adams seconded.
Commissioner Holman directed his statement to Susan Craig, County Clerk, “will you make reference to the April 19th, page 32, and go back and listen to the tape. It was a discussion with the CH2Mhill, prior to Commissioner Holder inquiring to Ms. Dyke. I had inquired what the cost was for the study, and I cannot find it. Please add this to the Minutes. On the April 20th Minutes, on page 4, this was a discussion with Mr. Andy Welch in reference to the Huston Joyner Modification of Condition. I cannot find my discussion with Mr. Welch inquiring about the minimum house size. That generated a modification to Commissioner Harper’s resolution to specify a minimum. Please add this to the Minutes. Referencing again the April 20th Minutes, on page 10, there is a list of conditions. Looking at #4, ‘all homes will be all side brick,’ the word ‘side’ should be plural (sides).”
The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Freedman, Holder and Adams voting in favor.
District V SPLOST Resolutions.
Commissioner Holman said the Board has seen these before and asked for the County Manager, Linda Angus, or the Public Works Division Director, Michael Harris to clarify why this is in front of the Board.
Mr. Harris stated, “the resolutions in question are in reference to two (2) different projects; one is East Atlanta Road at Thurman intersection improvements and the other is the Crumbley Road resurfacing project. Currently, as it stands, both of these projects are listed under the District V District Priority Allocation Account. The District V Commissioner has requested these projects be designated under Designation #7 as a SPLOST priority project, and take those same funds for these two (2) projects and reallocate them within his district (District V allocation). Both are on the SPLOST Master List.”
Commissioner Holman, referring to his District V Priority List, said, “all of us had one of these, and if you look in the columns it states the locations and names the roads, and then in the middle column it gives the scope of the work (resurfacing, new pavement, intersection improvements, and major maintenance), and then on the right column it is the cost. At the top, it is dated October of last year. Prior to that, I had been asking staff where are the sources of funding for these, because I did not want to have a project funded from a sales tax source, because this list was to come out of the General Fund of the DOT resurfacing money. That is what started this and it was before October. It has taken this long to identify these two pots of money.”
Resolution to Modify the Current District V DOT Priority List by Reallocating Project Funds to the Austin Road at Fairview Road Intersection Project.
WHEREAS, the project priority list has been established by the Board of Commissioners for the purpose of sequencing the non-maintenance DOT projects, and ;
WHEREAS, the resurfacing of Crumbley Road and the intersection improvement at East Atlanta and Thurman Road are both SPLOST II projects, and;
WHEREAS, the Commissioner representing District V proposes that these projects be completed through the SPLOST II program, rather than the DOT district allocation, and;
WHEREAS, the proposed funding for Crumbley Road ($135,000) would be added to Austin at Fairview, as well as the East Atlanta Road at Thurman project; with the exception of the design work, which is currently being done as a DOT District V project,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Henry County Board of Commissioners, authorizes the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners to approve the modification of the DOT District V priority list.
Chairman Maddox made a motion to approve the resolution; Commissioner Holman seconded.
Commissioner Holder said, “since these are being moved into SPLOST II……….
Mr. Harris responded, “they are currently on the SPLOST II Master List, but they have never been designated as of right now.”
Commissioner Holder said, “does it not change the overall SPLOST budget?”
Mr. Harris answered, “yes it does. The current agreed upon designation amount for SPLOST II transportation projects is approximately $44 to $46 million. The SPLOST staff is in the process of formulating the budget for the subsequent years now; we anticipate the total designated amount for the projects that are currently designated to be near $55 million as opposed to the $46 million. They are in the process of revising their estimates based on more realistic prices; so we anticipate today’s number to be closer to $55 million.”
Commissioner Holder asked Mr. Harris to explain to him why it is being moved out of DOT funds into SPLOST II.
Mr. Harris responded, “last year when each District came up with their District allocations, the thought and mind-set was that if they designated them in their District allocations, it could probably be done in the DOT’s first fiscal year. So some projects were doubled; they are listed on both the SPLOST List as well as the DOT Priority List in an effort to escalate that project. The thinking being that the SPLOST program is a 5-year program and if it remains in the SPLOST program, it could be up to five (5) years before that project actually gets done. The Commissioner from this District had put it on his District V Priority List, but after some conversation, he preferred it to be funded through the SPLOST program and that is what initiated this request.”
Commissioner Adams said, “not only will it delay it, it may fall off on the back end if the money is not there.”
Mr. Harris said, “it could, we do not anticipate that. Right now we are in the neighborhood of $55 million.”
Commissioner Adams stated, “it seems to me, there was a lot more promised than there is going to be money for.”
Mr. Harris responded, “in that regard, I agree we will not be able to accomplish everything on the Master List. That was kind of a ‘wish list.’ For transportation projects alone totals approximately $55 million; our cut off point is $63 million.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “this is on the SPLOST List; it is just not designated. Is that right?” Mr. Harris answered yes. “He is asking for it to be moved to Designation 7; is there anything on Designation 7 now?” Mr. Harris said, “no, every time a new project is added, a new designation is added, and it becomes the subsequent designation.”
Commissioner Freedman asked, “so this does not affect the ones already on the List; he is just asking for it to be at the bottom of all the designated list?”
Mr. Harris answered, “once it is designated, then our SPLOST staff can begin scheduling the project. So it may not be this year or next year, but it is on the SPLOST List.”
Ms. Angus added, “it will free up the allocation, and I know other Board Members have done this, so I am not saying this is a bad thing. It will free up what he has to designate out of the General Fund, and then he can go back out of that piece.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “I think we did these backwards. I think we should have taken whether or not we are going to designate to the SPLOST List before we decide what’s going to be done with the money that was in his road designation list. I think we should be discussing……… because he does not know if he has the money there or not, until we decide whether or not we are going to put that on the SPLOST List.
Ms. Angus said, “that is true.”
Commissioner Freedman recommended, “we should go back and what we should be discussing here is the one where they took that list and took those roads and put on the Designation 7 list. He does not know what he is working with until we do that.”
Chairman Maddox said, “so I read the wrong resolution.”
Ms. Angus responded, “it is our fault because we did not tell you which one.”
Chairman Maddox withdrew his motion and Commissioner Holman withdrew his second. Chairman Maddox began reading the next resolution:
Resolution to Designate Two (2) Projects: Crumbley Road Resurfacing and Intersection Improvements at East Atlanta and Thurman Road, in the SPLOST II Road Improvement Program.
WHEREAS, the two (2) projects, Crumbley Road and East Atlanta and Thurman Road are currently listed on the SPLOST II Master List, and;
WHEREAS, funding for these projects is currently available in the transportation element of the SPLOST II program and;
WHEREAS, the design for the East Atlanta Road at Thurman Road intersection is currently being done with funds from this District V, DOT project allocation.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Henry County Board of Commissioners hereby authorizes the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners to approve the above referenced projects as Designation 7 in the SPLOST II program.
Chairman Maddox made this his motion; Commissioner Holman seconded; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioner Holman, Freedman, Holder and Adams voting in favor.
On the resolution that was read first in error, the Chairman asked for a motion. Commissioner Holman made a motion to approve the resolution; Chairman Maddox seconded.
Commissioner Freedman stated, “we have just taken away the projects allocated to that funding. So what we have now is a total of $485,000; we have supported you on the first one, but I have to make a comment on this one. You have gone through a lot of turmoil about the Library. And the turmoil was because you took library funds and what you perceive as the most important project and that was road funds. I do not know why you don’t put this money, now that it is freed up, back in the library fund and help bail out that project which is given the most notoriety.”
Commissioner Holman said, “I did not bring the resolution for that one, but maybe staff can bring it out; there is a $1.2 million resolution that has been in front of this Board for the third time, and I would be welcomed to bring it to this Board for the fourth time which brings that out of the capital funds which is still not maxed out. We have $4 million projected revenues, so the money is there.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “I have supported putting those roads in the SPLOST project, because I think that is fair and that is where they belong. They were dual allocated; road funds and SPLOST funds. I am not willing to vote on the use of those funds until we decide whether or not that should go to that library where they were taken from or put back into the library.”
Commissioner Holman responded, “I will give him an alternative funding source, and we can prepare a resolution very quickly and that’s to obligate the impact fees from the libraries. I will be glad to allocate that to District V.”
Ms. Angus stated, “the SPLOST budget has got to be formally increased by the Board before the $1.2 million is available. There would have to be two (2) resolutions; one to increase the SPLOST budget as projected by the Board to $94 million and secondly, to allocate $1 million to the library. That has to be done. The impact fees are an issue that all of you have asked for me to put your requests together, so that you could look at them all at once. I am glad to do that. The SPLOST List has passed for this money to go into SPLOST and that is good. But the last action the Board took was that no more money be allocated on roads until this distribution was determined and you had a chance to talk about it. In this last discussion, we have violated what you have asked for, but I am not sorry about it. We can still have that discussion about roads in SPLOST unless you have changed your minds. The issue about the library is a valid issue if you want to wait, and its not if you don’t. So you can vote on this resolution or not.”
Commissioner Holder said, “correct me if I am wrong, what Commissioner Holman is talking about as far as funding the library, that means additional funding. That is not what his District got to begin with. That would be an addition to, am I correct?”
Ms. Angus answered, “it is.”
Commissioner Holder continued, “the point that I am making is this: Commissioner Holman, you had the opportunity to make adjustments to make the library work, just as all of us did. This District needs a library; but I personally am not willing to commit and give up funds that could possibly be due to me and whatever they represent in my District, and I do not think you are going to find that other Commissioners are going to feel any different to be able to cover what the Commissioner from that District chose as his priority and not funding the library. Adjustments may have to be made from within the District rather than from excess funds.”
Commissioner Holman responded, “I believe we are mixing up what is in front of us on this resolution. All of us have this; this is the April 19th Minutes we just adopted. On page 16 the Henry County DOT has a priority list established by the Henry County Board of Commissioners and each District was appropriated approximately $1.3 million to make transportation improvements in their respective Districts. And to date, the Commissioner representing District IV still has funds available to allocate toward projects, and it went on to list the roads in the amount of $80 million, there was a motion made, it was seconded, and it carried, and there was no discussion. This is happening frequently. I am still at a loss of why this Board does not allow District V to prioritize the General Fund money that was allocated to all Districts in the amount of $1.3 million.”
Commissioner Holder stated, “I do not care how you spend your money, but I do care if it comes out of excess funds that should be divided among the entire Board.”
Commissioner Holman addressed the County Manager, “how is that excess funds each? Would you recap and refresh our memories of what happened with this DOT resurfacing money? Did that not only come out of the General Funds? That is generated only by the millage rate property tax funding. It is not a sales tax.”
Ms. Angus answered, “that revenue includes other sources like sales tax and different things in it. It is not only property taxes, but the majority of it is. I think we are mixing funding sources. When we put $14 million in the capital fund last year, and we deducted money for the school roads off the top, and it split the balance, that is the money Commissioner Holman just freed up when he moved allocated funds from his portion of that (the $1.3). He just, by resolution just now, moved that into SPLOST and he has just freed up $485,000 of his money that he had allocated. That’s the fact.”
Commissioner Holder said, “that he could put where ever he chose to.”
Ms. Angus said, “assuming that all of you will agree with him, yes. And that has been a practice.”
Chairman Maddox asked, “did I hear you say there had been other Districts that had moved money somewhat similar to this?”
Ms. Angus said, “we have, in a legal sense, gained this to get the maximum amount out of SPLOST so that monies could be freed up for other projects. I know District Commissioners have worked this same thing, so that they could get all they could out of all their money. This is one of those same actions.”
Commissioner Freedman added, “that’s what we just did when we transferred that General Fund DOT money to the SPLOST Fund. I do not have a problem with that. It was legitimate and on the list; we actually moved him up into a priority that was not there before. My question is, now this is money that was taken from one pot within that District, i.e. the library pot, and put into a road pot, and if it is no longer used for roads, I am just wondering why it doesn’t go back into that library pot.”
Ms. Angus responded, “I see that point; this is what I remember: the SPLOST I account which is different from the other two (2) we are talking about, capital out of the General Fund and SPLOST II, SPLOST I we had $10.7 million remaining and we had to close it. And when we closed it, we gave each of you a distribution. That is the money that was the library money that was moved away and roads put in instead. It is what the last Commissioner designated.”
Commissioner Holman said, “I cannot resist it, in the last meeting on April 19th, District III also did a reallocation of its DOT resurfacing funds because a LARP Project funded a road project in that District which freed up that money. I am doing exactly the same thing, but I am getting resistance for some reason. This has become so convoluted, and it took a long time for Michael Harris and Lee Holman to see we were actually having a priority list that was not solely funded from the DOT resurfacing money. It was wrong to do that, because there was the SPLOST II projects that we were all putting on designations. One day Michael and I were looking at this, and I asked him if there were any projects on here that are being funded from SPLOST. He looked through his list and said, ‘Lee, it is.’ Well, let’s get them off, and we have been working on this since October.”
Commissioner Adams said, “Commissioner Holman, maybe I am slow, but we have just re-designated; we have taken it off of SPLOST or is your designation to put it on SPLOST. That is not the argument; we have done that.”
Commissioner Holman said, “now the argument is what you did at our last meeting when you re-designated…………..”
Commissioner Adams interrupted, “I did not re-designate. It is money I had not allocated; I still have some.”
Ms. Angus stated, “let me make this point. If you do not agree to allow the District V Commissioner to designate to this particular fund, he will be the only one that has not had that ability.”
Commissioner Adams said, “since Commissioner Freedman has just offered a suggestion, and since you have taken such a hit on taking your library money and putting it in roads, here is some money here that you can put back into the library and maybe not be in the hot water that you are in.”
Commissioner Freedman said the County Manager has changed his perception on this. “I thought that was a valid concern; because the library is the top concern for a lot of people. In reality what we were talking about was library funds that were SPLOST funds, and now what we are talking about is this is General Fund money; this is not the library fund money. Although I wish you could find some way to reallocate your SPLOST fund money to the library that we’d use for roads. But this is General Fund money; this is not SPLOST money; so in reality, what I said that this should go to the library was not the same pot of money.”
Commissioner Holder stated, “there is nothing in the law that says he can’t take General Fund money and put into that and match with SPLOST funds to build a library, if there?”
Ms. Angus answered, “no.”
Commissioner Holder said, “that is the point made. And I am not going to sit here and try to tell the Commissioner from that District how and where to spend his money. My main concern is that I will be determined that any excess funds that will be shared throughout the County will not go to fund something that he chose not to fund. That is my point.”
Commissioner Freedman stated, “I do not think this is excess funds. This is already part of his $1.2 million ($1.7 million is SPLOST and $1.2 million is roads.). So he is not increasing his $1.2 million budget; the only reason that money is available is because those two (2) roads went into SPLOST. That has not increased his allocation at all; he is just saying now I’ve got that money freed up, and I would like to use it for some other roads.”
Commissioner Holder responded, “that is exactly right. General fund money and SPLOST money are two (2) separate pots. But there is nothing that says he cannot fund this library with General Fund money; he has $1.2 million that he can put into the library, is that correct, Ms. Angus?”
Ms. Angus replied, “we know for a fact he has $485,000 that he moved.”
Commissioner Holder responded, “no, no; I’m not talking about ‘can move.’ Is there anything in SPLOST that he has for library?”
Ms. Angus answered, “No.”
The vote was taken; the motion carried 4-1-0 with Commissioners Maddox, Holman, Holder and Freedman voting in favor; Commissioner Adams voted against.
Resolution Regarding the July 20, 2004 Board of Commissioners Meeting.
Chairman Maddox said July 20th is Election Day, and he had been asked to ask the Board if they would not meet on that day. Commissioner Holder made a motion to approve the resolution; Commissioner Adams seconded; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holder, Adams, Freedman and Holman voting in favor.
The Henry County Board of Commissioners will not meet on the following days due to the reasons stated:
May 31, 2004 Memorial Day Holiday Observed
There will not be a work session. Everything will be transferred over to Tuesday, June 1, 2004 at our Regular Board of Commissioners Meeting starting at 9:00 A.M.
July 5, 2004 Fourth of July Holiday Observed
There will not be a work session. Everything will be transferred over to the Tuesday, July 6, 2004 at our Regular Board of Commissioners Meeting starting at 9:00 A.M.
Also, Chairman Maddox announced there will be a Called BOC Meeting at 9:00 A.M. on Monday, May 24, 2004 to adopt the Budget. “Yesterday, I read the one on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 10:00 A.M. the Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Taskforce Meeting to be held in Conference Room “B.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “so the public will know, we do have two (2) budget meetings. We have one on May 11th at 9:00 A.M. and one on May 17th at 9:00 A.M.”
Commissioner Holman said, “on May 25th, you indicate a Traffic Incident Management Meeting. Is that a Board of Commissioners’ Meeting?”
Chairman Maddox responded, “all of the Board of Commissioners have been invited to that meeting, but it is not a Board Meeting.”
Commissioner Holman asked, “the special workshop, is that a BOC Meeting on May 20th?”
Chairman Maddox answered, “it is not a BOC meeting; all Commissioners have been invited by Mr. Jim Luebbering to this stormwater meeting.”
Commissioner Freedman asked if Mr. Luebbering had formed his stormwater committee.
Chairman Maddox said he could not answer that.
Ms. Angus said nominations have been made.
Tanger Blvd. – Payment of Contract – Tanger Partners, LLC.
Ms. Angus said, “the road has been signed off on by Plan Review and DOT, and taken to the City of Locust Grove today and they signed off on it.”
Patrick Jaugstetter, County Attorney, said, “I provided Plan Review with the right-of-way deed because we had to do it a little different on this one. As far as I know, Steve Schafer and his staff (Development Plan Review) have taken care of that as well. That is the last step to get the right-of-way conveyed to the County.”
Chairman Maddox asked for the road to be identified, so that the audience will know what road we are talking about.
Commissioner Holder said, “this is Tanger Blvd., Section 3 that extends from Locust Grove/Griffin Road to Highway 42 South.”
Ms. Angus said, “we are prepared to make the payment as soon as that last document is executed by the developer.”
Mr. Jaugstetter stated, “the developer will execute a right-of-way deed, and assuming Development Plan Review gets that right-of-way deed back, we’ll have it recorded. Once that is done, the deal is ripe for payment.”
Commissioner Holder said he would like to make a motion that when that is done, they will be paid. Commissioner Freedman seconded.
Commissioner Holder said, “I know some of the inspectors have been out, and this is a good example of what can happen and be beneficial to the County when it is a joint effort between the private sector, the County, and another municipality. There will be a by-pass road around Locust Grove from Bill Gardner Parkway to Highway 42. If you have an opportunity to drive it, I think you will see that when the amount of money that this road has cost the County, it is quite an investment and benefits all. It is a situation that is a win/win for all.”
The vote was taken; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Freedman and Adams voting in favor.
Appointment of District III Commissioner in the Absence of Jason Harper.
Commissioner Adams stated he had been advised by the County Attorney the Board has the authority to appoint a Commissioner in Mr. Harper’s absence for the rest of his term. He said the public has a lot of interest in this. “I have also been advised since this is a personnel matter, the Board will address the issue in Executive Session.”
Mr. Jaugstetter said, “this is really not a personnel matter, and I misunderstood in our conversation. The appointment of the new Commissioner should be discussed and handled in public session; the Commissioner is not classified as an employee.”
Commissioner Adams said he would withdraw what he had just said.
To go forward with discussion, Commissioner Holman moved to discuss the appointment of the vacant seat in District III; Commissioner Freedman seconded.
Commissioner Holman said, “I have in front of me a letter, copied to all of us dated yesterday, from the City of McDonough who has asked for us to consider Mr. Skeet Echols, Mr. Mike Elrod, Mr. Larry Stanley, and Reverend Ed Lee as the replacement. I would like to see each Commissioner recommend a nominee and then whittle it down to the individual with the most votes. If that does not work, I would like to nominate Larry Stanley as the replacement for the absent seat.”
Commissioner Freedman said he thought the Board should make a decision today, because he had received a lot of calls in regards to this issue; District III citizens did not feel they were represented. Commissioner Freedman nominated Reverend Ed Lee, “one of the upstanding citizens of McDonough.”
Commissioner Holder asked the County Attorney, “would you advise that it be done today before any hearings, or do you think it makes any difference?”
Mr. Jaugstetter responded, “that is a decision for the Board to make.”
Chairman Maddox said, “I have had some real strong phone calls about District III not being represented. I agree on mostly what they say. But I would also like to say to the citizens present that any name submitted today, if the Board knows them and have no problem in voting for them, today would be the day to do this. But if there is anyone on the Board who does not know the nominee, then I think it would be to the advantage of the citizens of District III to take the names and review them and then bring before the Board. I realize this needs to be done quickly, but I think we should make the best decision because the citizens of District III, when they voted for their Commissioner, they did that themselves. Let’s vote on when we need to make a decision on selecting someone. I think we need to take all of the names into consideration, but as far as making the selection today, I have a question about that.”
The vote was taken on the motion to discuss the replacement of the District III Commissioner; the motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Freedman, Adams and Holder voting in favor.
Commissioner Holder stated, “whoever our choice is to replace Jason Harper, regardless of the name, needs to be a person who can get up to speed quickly and has some past political experience. All of us who are sitting here know what the first six (6) months of our terms were and how long it takes to get familiar with what is going on and how to communicate. It is very important that experience plays a role in this; it is only for six (6) months or December 31, 2004. It needs to be someone who can hit the ground running and be able to get up to speed. I would like to recommend Skeet Echols.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “I agree completely with what Commissioner Holder said, and I also know Skeet Echols and he possesses a lot of common sense, wisdom and experience. I would like to recommend Reverend Ed Lee. Some of the things that make him a top candidate is he heads up a large church, so he certainly knows about fiscal responsibility, taking care of budgets and taking care of people. Secondly, he knows the community; he represents the community, a leader of the community and is a known leader. He has already exhibited that leadership capability, not only in his church, but throughout the community. He is active on many boards in the community, and is a respected, objective, and a fair member of the community. It is hard to find a better man.”
Commissioner Adams stated, “Commissioner Holder is correct; it is not going to be a very long term and there is not a lot of time for training. As far as I know, everyone who has been nominated are fine folks and have the brain power. I also would like to enter a name into the hat who has a lot of organizational and budget skills and knows how to hit the ground running. My recommendation is Billy Copeland, the Ex-Mayor of McDonough.”
Commissioner Holman said, “Larry Stanley will be the nominee from District V. Mr. Stanley is known by everybody on this Board, and many people on the County staff know him by his activities when the Oversight Committee was still in session. Larry knows the community and I know him personally. Larry has organizational skills; he has outstanding writing skills and he has the ability to address the public in a very concise and understandable way.”
Chairman Maddox stated he had a recommendation from a citizen in District III to be added to the list, and their nomination was Rick Fretwell. He said he had met the man but did not know him. Chairman Maddox said if he had to make a nomination today from District III, his nomination would be Billy Copeland. From the number of years he has served as Mayor of McDonough and with his ability with the Southern Railroad and as far as money management and decision-making goes, he would be the Chairman’s choice.
Chairman Maddox said, “it would only be fair to give the people who have come here today the chance to nominate someone. I received calls from the Mayor of McDonough and from Bruce Register, and I asked them to send their nominations to the County Clerk.” The entire Board agreed.
Mr. Al Hosford came forward.
“My name is Al Hosford and I live in District III. I think it would behoove the Board to narrow the list down to three (3) candidates, because all of the candidates mentioned today are very qualified candidates. But I think the list should be narrowed to three (3) candidates and then take it under advisement over the weekend. This should not be a hasty decision. There are a lot of things that are going to happen over the next six (6) months. Chairman Maddox has said he is not familiar with all of the candidates, and I think you would want to be very comfortable in voting for someone that you are comfortable with and getting the most qualified candidate for District III. You do not have to make a decision today.”
“My name is Bruce Register, and I would like to say I know Billy Copeland very well, but Billy is serving on the Atlanta Regional Commission, I do believe. Would he not have to resign his position there, if he became a nominee for District III?”
Chairman Maddox answered, “yes.”
Commissioner Holder said, “I had a meeting yesterday with Mr. Copeland and he is leaving town. When he left my place, he was not sure if he was willing to resign and take this position or not. He is basically undecided as to the direction he should go, unless he has told you something different in the mean time.”
Commissioner Freedman said, “Mr. Copeland is an intelligent, experienced political ally of ours on the ARC. It would be a shame to lose that experience. I am glad Mr. Register brought that up.”
“My name is Bill McLeer and I live at 355 Oakland Road, in District II. First, I have a question and then I have a recommendation. Have all of these people been approached and willing to accept the position?”
Chairman Maddox said, “no.”
Mr. McLeer continued, “The reason I ask is I want to nominate someone who I have not spoken to and gotten a response from, but as I am sitting here thinking about it, I think he would be a good candidate. Since we are in a crunch for someone who can hit the floor running, I would say a previous Commissioner from District III might represent it well by the name of Dave Crawford. So I would like to nominate him.”
Commissioner Holman said he would like to follow up on the comment regarding Mr. Billy Copeland. He said, “I know him and I respect him. He is a gentleman; he would make an outstanding interim District III Commissioner; however, he has a big choice to make if he has to resign from the ARC.”
“My name is Reverend Edwards, and I live in District V, but I am convinced that although this is the third district, this decision is an important one and would affect the entire County. Personally, I would like to see an interview process where you sit these nominees down in front of you and test their qualifications. It is obvious to me, all of you do not know all the named candidates. This would be a job where they would collect a salary, so I would like to see an interview process. I think that is the fair way to do it.”
“My name is Chris Rogers and I live on Turner Church Road in District III. The choice will apparently be yours. I am asking you to make the best choice; if a certain candidate has other obligations, that’s their choice. Your job is to make your first choice and not to eliminate someone because of any other position they may hold. I look to you to pick the best person for our District and to do it quickly. Thank you.”
Chairman Maddox said, “This week Ms. Rogers and I had a long conversation abut this, and I assured her we would do this as quickly as possible. I think we should look at this and see which one is the best for the citizens of District III.”
Commissioner Holman addressed the County Clerk, Susan Craig. “If you would look into either the 19th or 20th Minutes, we have changed Ms. Chris Rogers gender. I think we called her a “Mr.”
Commissioner Freedman said he had several telephone discussions with Ms. Rogers where people are saying, ‘get us a Commissioner and get him now.’ I have builders and developers calling saying, ‘we need someone in the third district to deal with.’ That is our responsibility; we have a Called Meeting on the 11th to discuss budget, and certainly there should be someone here to represent District III. We have a Called Meeting on the 17th to discuss the budget. We need someone sitting in that chair representing District III and the voice of the people.”
Mr. Larry Stanley came forth and stated time is of the essence. “Although I should probably, as one of the nominees, be quiet. I do not think that is the proper thing to do. I think the third district needs representation; that chair should not be empty, and whether it is me or Skeet Echols or Billy Copeland, it must be someone who wants to do the job. It is a big job; must be someone who has no conflict, and who has no second thoughts; not someone who will say, ‘maybe I will or maybe I won’t.’ The people in the third district deserve strong, ready, willing representation. I advise the Board to move on this; don’t stall, and do not take 2 to 3 weeks to make it happen. If anyone has any questions for me, I’d be glad to answer them.”
Commissioner Freedman suggested, “maybe we should go down the list of names that we have and see what the votes are and pick the person who gets the votes.”
Mr. Jaugstetter said this, like any other action, requires a majority vote. It will require three (3) affirmative votes to elect the replacement.
Commissioner Freedman suggested, “we should take the votes in order as District I, District II, District IV and District V, make their nomination, take the votes, and we might end up with someone with the three (3) votes.”
Chairman Maddox said, “we need to interview these people; how can I vote for someone or vote against someone if I do not know them?”
“My name is Judy Neal and I represent the Henry Council for Quality Growth. I think the decision you are about to make is so huge for the future of Henry County. If you do not interview the people who are nominated, you would be remiss at handling your job. I think there are a lot of reasons behind trying to fill this seat to the best of your ability, and that cannot be done in haste. Even though District III does not have a representative at this minute, I think the decision you make will be better for the third district if you can look into it a little bit better. Do it in the same way you would hire a CEO of a company; make sure the protocol for the interview process is in place, so that everyone is questioned with each identical questions. A full resume should be presented to you from each candidate showing you the experience of the budgets they have managed and their level of understanding of government. I would encourage you to do that and not be in any hurry to do it today.”
Commissioner Adams responded, “the problem is we do have a budget hearing on May 17th and that is a big deal. That is a fine thing to do by interviewing each candidate, but if you interview everybody that’s been nominated here, we are talking several weeks down the road and the budget is adopted and the third district does not get represented.”
Ms. Neal said, “I think you could follow the suggestion that Mr. Hosford made of narrowing the group of candidates; maybe pare that group down to three (3) and immediately have someone get their resumes and all the information to you. I just do not think the information you have before you today is worthy of a vote at this time.”
Commissioner Freedman responded, “I think just about everyone on here is known by most of the Commissioners. If they’re not, they would not vote for them. Just like when you go to the polls and if you do not know a candidate, you don’t vote for them. It is a temporary position, but an important one. I have not had one call from anyone who wants to delay on this. But I do appreciate your comments.”
“My name is Leon Forrer and all of you know me. Yesterday I found out Mr. Billy Copeland was being considered for this position, and I told him I would be very proud to have him. He told me he did have some reservations. I think if these people want this position, they should have shown up today and voiced their opinion. I say let’s go ahead and put Larry Stanley in and go on with it.”
Chairman Maddox directed his statement to the Board. “We need to go ahead and decide how we are going to do this and when we are going to do it.”
Commissioner Freedman made a motion to start with District I and go II, IV and V. “Ask them to give their nomination, vote on it, and once we get someone who has the appropriate number of votes, we select that person, notify him that he is the replacement, and for him to be at the next Commission Meeting.” Commissioner Holman seconded.
Chairman Maddox directed his statement to Commissioner Freedman. “Four (4) of the names listed on this page, I do not know enough about them to vote for them. I do not think that is right for that individual. I think I need to know something about the man before I can vote.”
Commissioner Holder said, “if I was the Chairman, I would feel a little bit offended by the fact District III does not have a representative, because the Chairman represents every District of the County. Whether you like it or don’t like it, he does represent everybody; where each of us represents the people who put us into office, but the entire County elected the Chairman. You do have a representative; it may not be the full slate of people you voted for, but you do still have a representative. You are not without a voice. Mr. Al Hosford hit it about as close as anybody in the fact that maybe we should narrow it to three (3) and as early as the 11th. We do need to replace Commissioner Harper, but I do not think we have to make a mistake in making the appointment.”
Chairman Maddox said the whole County was his; he does not work in just one District. “I assured everyone who called me that I would do what I could.”
Commissioner Freedman asked if he could amend his motion to pick the top three (3), and then before the Called Meeting on Tuesday, May 11th, that out of those top three (3), we have those three (3) come in before the budget meeting, pick one, and let him take part in the budget meeting. Commissioner Holman amended his second. The motion carried 4-0-0 with Commissioners Freedman, Holman, Holder and Adams voting in favor.
Chairman Maddox called the names listed as they were mentioned in the above discussion:
Skeet Echols (former District III Commissioner) 2 votes
Mike Elrod 0 votes
Larry Stanley 4 votes
Reverend Ed Lee 1 vote
Billy Copeland 4 votes
Rick Fretwell 0 votes
Dave Crawford 0 votes
Chairman Maddox announced the top three (3) were Skeet Echols, Larry Stanley, and Billy Copeland. “According to the motion, we need to take those three (3) people, and I would recommend staff to contact these people to obtain a resume for review over the weekend. These three (3) should be at the May 11th Budget Meeting at 9:00 A.M. and we will take the time for interviews.”
Commissioner Adams asked if the interviews should be done in Executive Session or should it be made public.
The County Attorney stated it should be done publicly.
Commissioner Holman said, “while staff is collecting resumes, I am sure many of us recall when we qualified, they ask us a billion questions, and when we stand up in front of the judge, they ask us another; so those questions should at least be asked to make sure they’re qualified to prevent any embarrassments before you come before the Board for selection.”
Commissioner Holder said he did not like having the three (3) candidates interviewed before the 9:00 A.M. May 11th meeting. “I think it is important we do it sometime on Monday (May 10th) so that the people can at least have a break, and not jump right out of an interview into a seat.”
Chairman Maddox said, “that is why I recommended Monday so that whoever is selected could have a little bit of time.”
Commissioner Freedman said he did not have any problem with that, and made a counter motion to meet at 2:00 P.M. on Monday, May 10th to interview the top three (3) candidates for the third District’s empty seat. Commissioner Holman seconded.
Mr. Leon Forrer said Mr. Billy Copeland was going to be out of town for a week.
Commissioner Adams said, “it seems there are two ways we can go; we either do it right now or delay it until Monday (May 10th).”
The vote was taken on the counter motion; the motion carried 5-0-0 with Commissioners Maddox, Holman, Freedman, Holder and Adams voting in favor.
Commissioner Holman said, “the Board seems to have a way to slow things down, so I am going to float an idea. I move we replace District III’s empty seat with Mr. Larry Stanley today.”
Chairman Maddox asked the County Attorney, Mr. Jaugstetter, “I am sure any Commissioner can make any motion they want to, but once a motion has been passed, can we accept another motion to do something that we have already voted to do?”
Mr. Jaugstetter answered, “you can, but you would be rescinding the previous adopted resolution.”
Chairman Maddox asked for a second. Commissioner Freedman seconded.
Commissioner Freedman added, “District III wants a representative. We have got to make some hard decisions.”
Ms. Angus made a request, “if you are going to entertain a resolution, you should make the motion to rescind the last, otherwise, we won’t know what to operate.”
Commissioner Holman said to make the motion very clear, “the motion will rescind the selection on Monday, the 10th at 2:00 P.M.” Commissioner Freedman amended his motion.
“My name is B. J. Mathis and I live in District II. Is there anything that says a citizen of Henry County cannot have a proposed budget to look at? Is there anything that says Mr. Larry Stanley, as a resident, cannot have a copy of these budgeted items to take home with him to study and to call any of the Commissioners to ask questions about it or anyone else who has been nominated today, to have the opportunity to gather knowledge, and then come back on Monday, as you proposed, and do the interview process?”
Ms. Angus said the budget is available to anyone at any time.
“My name is Rick Fretwell and I live at 195 River Trace Court. The inefficiencies of the government here in Henry County just confound me. We have had more double talk here today than I can stand to retain. We have talked about we need to get someone in this seat in a hurry. And then we talked about we need to get someone with quality. Then we turned around and we talked about we need to get someone who is going to impact the things over the next 20 years. You want to interview them one time and they are going to impact something for 20 years; it is an impossibility. You are not going to do it; you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You have narrowed it down to three (3) people. If we are in a hurry to get someone to fill the seat, the first question I would have is why did this Board let it get to this point to where we have an empty seat? How did Jason Harper walk away from the third District’s seat without something being done prior to that? I am sure he did not just wake up one morning and say, ‘oh by the way guys, I’m leaving.’ And if Mr. Harper did that, then his name should be ‘mud’ in the County, or at least in the third District. My point is, we have major things happening in the third District; the McDonough Parkway and the Jonesboro Road projects are major issues. It was all I could do to stand there and listen to the City of McDonough sending recommendations to have someone from the third District. McDonough has been raping the third District for at least the last year that I have been researching. Everything they do is minimizing standards, putting in high density housing projects, and personally from the third District, it would scare me to death to have anybody recommended from McDonough to get in there. The first thing I would think about is they would be a ‘pawn’ for Mayor Craig. I do not have a problem being represented by Mr. Maddox, but I would like to have my own representative. I think we should get a representative in today; we could talk this thing to death.”
Commissioner Freedman thanked Mr. Fretwell for standing up and saying what he did; he said he made a lot of sense and obviously cared about District III. The Commissioner said, “I know two (2) of the names submitted, and neither one of those are pawns of the Mayor. I think he deliberately selected people we would know were independent. Reverend Lee is not a pawn nor controlled by the Mayor; he is just an outstanding local minister. And Mr. Larry Stanley is not controlled by anyone except his wife, like most of us married men.”
Commissioner Holman said, “Mr. Fretwell has brought an extremely important issue to life. Why is District III vacant? I will tell you why. Somebody with a lot of knowledge in schooling to interpreting the law, interpreted our Code. Mr. County Attorney, we as a governing body need to give you some direction; a funding source if you find you can’t fix the Code to where we do not know when it comes time to run for office. This is almost, in my opinion, inexcusable and I realize these are the things that happen. Laws are made, Codes are written, and it is not until they are used that these types of issues come to the surface. The Board is going through this issue right now to fill a vacant seat because the interpretation could not be gleamed by an average person. We do not come from the ‘lawyer world.’ But we had one who read that law and asked himself, ‘to be compliant with Henry County law, I’ll have to step down.’ What a powerful, strong thing to have to do. I commend him for doing that, but we, as a governing authority, do not need to drag our feet along with filling this seat for District III; we need to give our County staff a funding source to correct this imperfect law ordinance.”
“My name is Bill McLeer, District II, and you brought up a good point. We have now put our County in a position where we don’t have District III representation. We also have another candidate in District II who may be in the same position. So we are not really changing a situation; we need to correct the situation so that it will not happen again. I hear there are two (2) different opinions, and I am not a lawyer, and my opinion is who is right and should Mr. Harper have stepped down? So Mr. Harper should be the one to come back.”
A vote was taken on the motion; the motion failed 2-3-0 with Commissioners Holman and Freedman voting in favor and Commissioners Maddox, Holder and Adams voting against. Chairman Maddox stated the Board will meet Monday afternoon at 2:00 P.M., and if any of the nominees want a copy of the budget, they can obtain one.
Commissioner Holman directed his question to the County Attorney, “are you able to repair the Code that is unclear? Is there a solution to make it clear?”
Mr. Jaugstetter answered, “I cannot begin to tell you what the intent of that Code was. Could a new Code be written? Yes.”
Commissioner Holman asked, “can we, by resolution, ask them to prepare a new Code that will not allow this to happen again?”
Mr. Jaugstetter replied, “tell me what you would like the Code to say.”
Chairman Maddox stated, “Commissioner Holman, what you are asking regarding the law, this Board makes recommendations to their State representatives to introduce that into the Legislature. And it will be passed by the Legislature; it will not be passed by this Board. A recommendation can be made to the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it has to come though the Legislature before it can become law.”
Commissioner Holder said, “in many cases haste is not the way to go. We are sitting here knowing there will be a hearing to determine the intent and direction that this Code section goes. We need to wait until the outcome of that decision. If we, as a Board, vote today to change it, then we are saying and giving the idea to anyone that there is something wrong with it.”
Commissioner Holder moved to adjourn into Executive Session, in accordance with the provisions of O.C.G.A. 50-14-3, and other applicable laws, and pursuant to advice by Patrick Jaugstetter, the County Attorney, for the purposes of discussing the acquisition of real estate, pending and/or potential litigation, and personnel matters. Commissioner Holman seconded. The motion carried a vote of 4-0-0 with Commissioners Holder, Holman, Adams and Freedman voting in favor.
(An Executive Session was held.)
Commissioner Holman made a motion to reconvene into public session; Commissioner Adams seconded; and the motion passed 3-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Holder and Adams voting in favor.
(Chairman Maddox was late returning to public session; Commissioner Freedman departed during Executive Session.)
Commissioner Holman moved to authorize the Chairman to sign an affidavit of Executive Session; Commissioner Adams seconded; and the motion passed 3-0-0 with Commissioners Holman Adams and Holder voting in favor.
(Chairman Maddox entered the public session.)
Commissioner Holman moved to amend the Agenda out of public necessity; Commissioner Holder seconded; and the motion passed 3-0-0 with Commissioners Holman, Adams and Holder voting in favor. (The record should reflect Commissioner Freedman has recused himself.)
Commissioner Holman stated regarding the amended Agenda, the resolution reads as follows:
“A Resolution of the Henry County Board of Commissioners authorizing employment of legal counsel for the Henry County Board of Elections; and,
WHEREAS, qualification for candidates for the election to the Henry County Board of Commissioners closed on April 30, 2004; and,
WHEREAS, a challenge has been made as to the eligibility of Gary Freedman, the current District II Commissioner, to run for the office of Chairman of the Board of Commissioners; and,
WHEREAS, the Board of Elections must hear challenges and render decisions as to the eligibility of the challenged candidates.
NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the employment of Mr. Michael Bowers and the law firm of Botch and Bingham to advise, counsel and represent the Henry County Board of Elections with respect to challenges to the eligibility of candidates is hereby approved at an hourly rate not to exceed $300.00.”
(Commissioner Adams exited the public session.)
Commissioner Holman made a motion to approve the resolution; Commissioner Holder seconded; the motion carried 3-0-0 with Commissioners Maddox, Holder and Holman voting in favor.
Commissioner Holman made a motion to adjourn (5:54 P.M.); Commissioner Holder seconded; and the motion passed by a vote of 3-0-0 with Commissioners Maddox, Holder and Holman voting in favor.
Leland Maddox, Chairman
Peggy Malcolm, Deputy County Clerk