MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON NOVEMBER 14, 2006
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Chairman Ferrell Henry, with Commissioners James D. Harris, A. James Nance, Joyce C. Pheil, and Brad Faircloth in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, Jr., County Attorney David Forehand, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Mrs. Pheil gave the invocation, and Administrator Crapse led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION - SANDRA MCKINNEY
Administrator Crapse read a Resolution Commending County Extension Coordinator Sandra F. McKinney for one of her programs that has won regional and state diversity awards, for developing the “Survive and Thrive in the World of Work” program for youth in rural counties, for her guidance in the Crisp County 4-H’ers, for being chosen to Chair the 2007 National 4-H convention, and for being awarded the D. W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension. Mrs. McKinney accepted the Resolution, and stated that it is a privilege to serve the Crisp County youth and an honor to help mold the lives of young people, plus she appreciates all the support the Commissioners have given their department.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION - CRISP COUNTY RECREATION DEPARTMENT
Administrator Crapse recognized the Crisp County Recreation Department and employees for receiving the District III Program Agency of the Year Award. Brockey Brock, Leisure Activities Director, advised that he and his employees are honored to represent the county and to serve the Commissioners, and he was pleased to receive this Award on behalf of the staff.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION - CHRIS GREENE
Administrator Crapse read a Resolution Commending Chris Greene for being selected as the Volunteer of the Year for District III, Georgia Parks and Recreation Association serving all of Southwest Georgia. Mr. Greene accepted the Resolution on behalf of all of the volunteers, as children are most important and thanked Commissioners for their support, and for the Resolution. Commissioners thanked all those that received special recognition today.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to approve the minutes of the meetings of October 10th and October 25th, 2006, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
FUNDING CAPITAL PROJECTS
Mike Stewart, Assistant Director of Administration with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), reported that he wanted to meet with Commissioners in regards to funding issues with the new Judicial Center being built and to help arrange financing. He advised that ACCG is an instrument of county government or a department of the county, and stated that there are two ways to go about funding: 1) to go with a loan installment, or 2) a certification of participation, which is like a bond transaction. He then went over the options the Commission has to decide which funding will be best for the Judicial Center. He advised that with either project, ACCG would be the 3rd party and title holder, and when the loan was paid, they would give the title to the county. Administrator Crapse advised that they could consort with the banks, we could borrow the money and invest, and they will be looking at all options to determine which best fits the Judicial Center funding. Chairman Henry thanked Mr. Stewart for bringing them this information.
SPECIAL USE PERMIT - ROBERT M. AND PEGGIE DAVIS
Connie Sangster, Planning Director, reported that this is a request from Robert M. And Peggie B. Davis for a Special Use Permit to locate a church/place of worship in an RS2 (Single Family Residential) zone district; property being located at 480 Lakeshore Drive. Attorney Forehand read the public hearing procedures; Chairman Henry opened the Public Hearing for the Special Use Permit from Robert and Peggie Davis. Ms. Sangster read the comments on her Review Checklist for the Special Use Request for Commissioners to consider, and advised that churches are allowed in an RS2 (Single Family Residential) area with the proper parking and safety issues addressed. Chairman Henry asked for those to speak in favor of this request. Harry Hurt, representing Robert and Peggie Davis, advised that Section 305 in the County Ordinance states that you can have a church in any residential area, the Davis’ have had a church here for over seven years, and have had no negative comments until now. They are not asking for a tax abatement for this property, they are only asking that they be allowed to comply with the law. This came up because a neighbor is complaining, and they want to comply with the law, as God’s earth is a beautiful sanctuary, and it is only used on Sunday mornings. He advised that the their contention regarding the parking in Article 7 of the Land Development Code does not apply, that is for a structure, there will be no structure, and the neighbors across the street and on the south side have signed a petition agreeing with the special use request. He advised that the Keen’s, who live across the street, have cleaned up their lot for parking, and now there will not be any safety issues regarding the parking. Also, they only hold services from May through September for about an hour, as they do not use this lot every Sunday during the year. He also stated that he doesn’t think the noise could be proved, speakers are used but are kept to a minimum volume, and on the allegations of inverse condemnation, you have to show value of the property is diminished, and he doesn’t think that is the case here. He gave the Commissioners copies of his findings and the petition to keep the church on this property during the season. He also asked the people in favor of this Special Use Request to stand up, and there was over half a room full that stood up in support of this request. Robert Powell, on behalf of The Homeowners Association of Lake Blackshear, advised that they have over 350 resident members in this association, and the Board voted unanimously to approve this request; he read a letter stating that the “boat church” was an asset to the community and to the property owners, and they would like Commissioners to grant this continued use for the church service. James Hurt, advised that he goes to another church on the water across the lake from this one, but these services provide a valuable service to the community as people have an opportunity to worship in the area. Rev. Dorsia Atkinson, pastor of the church, which is an affiliate of The Warwick Methodist Church, advised that when he came here the “boat church” was already established as a gathering to come to worship and study God’s word from the first week after Easter thru the end of September, and it has continued to grow to anywhere from 80 to 250 people a week. They have added more speakers to try to reduce the volume of the sound, and he thinks it helps the betterment of the community. John Sims of Tifton attends these services when he is down and thinks this does not impose on anyone, and he has never known of any traffic problem or safety issue. He does not think this has any adverse effect on any development in the area, plus there is only minimal use of the property. Sherrer Turton plays guitar and sings at the services, and to him the big picture is coming to church and getting saved, and he is in favor of the church as he doesn’t want to keep someone from being saved. Stan Jones stated that he doesn’t think the traffic is any worse than it is at Loren Williams Park. There was no one else to speak in favor of the request, so Chairman Henry asked for those to speak against the request. Edward Davis, property owner adjacent to the “boat church”, stated that he has lived at his residence for 40 years, and it is zoned single family residential property. He showed a diagram of the property in question and his home, along with pictures of the many vehicles along the roadway, and advised that they stay on this property for more than one hour at a time. He advised that they start between 7:30 & 8:00 getting ready, have services, and then Sunday School Classes after the sermon, and the speaker is 63' from the property line to their deck. They are subjected to singing and preaching and to him that is an infringement on them and has been for five years, and during the services boats are circling around their dock and their water front. How can they enjoy their Sunday morning? They have lost their peace and quiet and privacy because of these services, the church has outgrown where it is, and needs to be moved out of the RS2 zone district. Joe Dent, Attorney representing Edward Davis, stated that it is commendable what the people are doing here, but they have just outgrown this place in the residential area. The main issues of concern to his client are 1) the effect of the “boat church” on their property rights, 2) noise and violation of the Noise Ordinance, and 3) cars parking on the right of way of the road and boats parking in front of his lake property. He advised that Article 7 of the Crisp County Ordinance requires off street parking with a parking place for each three seats, and in regards to the ten criteria which the Commissioners have to go on, which Ms. Sangster read, there were seven negative remarks plus one that didn’t apply. This property is not the proper place for this request, and if the Special Use Permit is approved, they can continue to grow and it will violate his clients’ rights as a property owner and violate the existing ordinance of Crisp County. There was no one else to speak against the request. Bob Davis, property owner of the “boat church”, stated that the Davis’ are nice neighbors, he and his wife are convinced that they were right in starting this gathering place for people to worship, and thought no one was upset about it until this year. He advised that so many people get so much blessing from these services, and that is why they asked for the Special Use Permit to continue. Mr. Hurt advised that they are not asking for a church building, and this is no different than people moving around in their own yard, and it is the Crisp County Power Commission’s lake, not Mr. and Mrs. Edward Davis’. Ms. Sangster advised that land use is not a popular item, and she is in no way being distractible to the church, she was just concerned about the traffic and noise, and with addressing of the off street parking. There were no other comments, so Chairman Henry closed the Public Hearing. After discussion, motion was made by Mr. Faircloth to grant the Special Use Permit with the stipulation they provide for adjacent off street parking for those who attend, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
INITIATE A MAP & TEXT AMENDMENT
Ms Sangster advised that when they zoned the property adjacent to the Airport , they wanted to protect the area around the Airport, and the property was zoned Industrial. With this being zoned Industrial, the residences in this area cannot rebuild back on their property if something happens to their homes, and because of this and the new Youth Ball Complex in this area, they would like to change this area back to residential. In order to do this, the Commissioners would need to initiate a Map and Text Amendment. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to initiate a Map and Text Amendment for the next regular Commissioner’s meeting, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
RENEWAL OF PERSONAL PROPERTY VERIFICATION PROGRAM CONTRACT DISCUSSED
Administrator Crapse reported that he has the contract for the renewal of the personnel property verification program. This is the requirements contract based on the budget request from the Board of Assessors, and this sets the funding for the audits, which are based on a small sample. In the past, these audits have found that some people pay in full, some pay more, some pay less, and some don’t pay at all, but this program maintains a check and balance. Mrs. Leverett advised that they have budgeted $50,000 in this year’s budget for these audits. Administrator Crapse advised that they can’t really verify if this is paying it’s way or not as they have not really tested the water, but he thinks it is time to test the water. Cricket Adkins is going through the paperwork, but until she is finished there is no way we can tell. He did say that if we didn’t do it at all, we would be losing money because we are collecting more than if we did nothing at all. He advised that the program seems to be paying it’s way, but since he has been here, there has been no testing of the water, it may be time to say that the county needs to test the waters, it may not be this year, but soon it may be time to test the waters and see if there is somebody else out there that can do this more reasonable. He advised that they did test the waters on our audit and saved a good bit of money plus got a reputable firm. He advised that if Commissioners want them to get a comprehensive figure on this, they can do that, or they can approve the contract now. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to table the decision until next month for comparable bids, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
LIQUOR BY THE DRINK ORDINANCE
Administrator Crapse reported that he has made the corrections from the Commission’s workshop on the Liquor By The Drink Ordinance, and the adoption of the Ordinance is now at the pleasure of the Board. He advised that most of the things that were done were administrative, but in the paragraph regarding brown bagging, he put a boldface note that says: note-for clarification, this paragraph prohibits bring your own bottle or brown bagging at any establishment whatsoever that is open to the public. He advised that the hours are limited to midnight Saturday night to 8:00 a.m. Monday, and liquor sales are prohibited on Sunday. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Liquor By The Drink Ordinance, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
SKATE PARK UPDATE
Brockey Brock reported that they met with the Recreation Advisory Committee twice on where to build the Skate Park. They have come up with five sites, they did look at a total of nine sites, but the other four were not conducive at all, and they feel like these five are the best sites for the skate park. After conversing with Administrator Crapse, there were several things he asked them to look at, especially during the day time areas of being close to some location as if people had a problem, they could get to quickly, so they tried to isolate around the recreation community center other than the Harmon Park situation. The number one site is the 5th Street Extension at 2nd Avenue corner, which is to the west of the dialysis building. There will be plenty of dirt there and will give them an opportunity to clean out a little bit around the pond as the long range plan is hopefully to include a nature walking trail around the pond. It is across the street from the football parking area at the Recreation Department, so it does give them paved parking. He advised that Carl Gamble said he could get this area cleaned up before Christmas, and if they approved this site, they would put down about an 100' X 100' concrete pad and then buy the components to go on the concrete. Also, this property would be the least desirable to put a building on. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to accept site #1, the corner of 5th Street Extension & 2nd Avenue, for the skate park, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION CHRISTMAS BONUS APPROVED
Administrator Crapse reported that it is time for the Board to approve or disapprove the payment of the employee appreciation bonus for this year. As in the past, the bonus applies to all full-time employees and has been computed based on one weeks pay, it is included in the budget, and he highly recommends the Board approve the bonus on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil approved the bonus as in the past, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Bruce Drennan, Director of the Industrial Development Council, brought a letter requesting up to a maximum amount of $975,000 from the Revolving Loan Fund for Project Gold. He advised that Project Gold is the Goldan Foundry out of Columbus, they are in the process of purchasing the WesCast facility, and that closing should be finished sometime this week. They will start off with about 100 employees and will max out around 175, they plan on investing around $8 million, they plan on being up and running by March of next year, and they have already begun hiring. What they originally did as part of the purchase of the building was to commit up to $975,000 in a loan to the company, based on how much will become available in the RLF. We currently have $455,000 committed from the RLF, we have since found that we have an additional $150,000 that had not been paid into the account from The Development Authority from a previous spec building, and that has since been paid into the account. He advised that when the MBM account closes, there is a $475,000 EIP grant that is loaned to MBM that will be closing this week, and what they are asking is as funds become available, the Commissioners would set aside up to $370,000 of the RLF money to be loaned to this company for this project, which would total out at $975,000. Administrator Crapse recommends approval of the monies from the RLF to the IDC. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to approve the request of up to a maximum amount of $975,000 from the RLF for Project Gold, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported that today’s packet includes a report of revenues and expenditures by fund for the four month period ending October 31, 2006. In the General Fund, revenues for the month totaled $1,108,594, year-to-date revenues totaled $3,033,293. Monthly expenditures were $876,219, year-to-date expenditures were $3,755,070. YTD expenditures continue to exceed YTD revenues by a total of $721,777 for the four months period. This is normal for this time of year. Our level of cash reserves is sufficient to support daily operations until the property tax revenues are collected. Landfill revenue for the month totaled $110,913, YTD $564,654. Expenditures for the month were $103,614, YTD $542,641. Revenues continued to remain ahead of expenditures in the Landfill Fund leaving it with a net income at the end of October (including the sale of the baler) of $22,013. The total tonnage received for the month of October was 3,666.80 tons, with 54% of that being delivered on the Onyx commercial contract and 14% being delivered under the City of Cordele free residential contract. The tonnage for October was about 300 tons less than the averages we have been running and about 119 tons less than October, 2005. The principal balance on the GEFA Loans is current at $4,089,096. The Water Fund recorded monthly revenues of $36,906, YTD revenues of $160,510. October expenditures totaled $31,378, YTD $141,333, leaving it with a net income for the four month period of $19,177. Water usage for the month was 6,732,000 gallons, and the USDA Bonds are current at $1,781,120. Cash on hand at October 31st in the General Fund was $4,751,640, the Landfill Fund at $2,296,771, the Revolving Loan Fund at $467,374, the SPLOST Funds at $4,810,066, and the Water Fund ended the month with $783,074, giving us a county wide total of $13,108,927. Of that $13 million county-wide total, $161,000 is reserved for debt service requirements, $54,754 for customer deposits, and $4.8 million for capital projects. In the budget to actual report for the 2000 SPLOST Issue, as of October 31st, we have spent almost $13.4 million of the $17.6 million collected, leaving us with $4,256,244 to complete the various City and County projects associated with this issue. In the SPLOST budget to actual by category summary report for the 2005 Issue, to date we have total collections of $3,178,776, total expenditures for projects associated with this issue of $2,901,582. Our average after eight months is $397,347. Next is the monthly detail listing of all the SPLOST fund expenditures for both issues. This was a very busy month for SPLOST expenditures, with total disbursements of $2,010,057. The largest sums distributed were $624,172 on the BBSB Complex, $100,000 on Economic Development, $65,018 to the City of Cordele, $7,394 to the Town of Arabi and $4,200 on the Airport T-hanger Taxiway project. In the Revolving Loan Fund report, which includes the balance and status of all our CDBG Revolving Loan Fund Accounts as of October 31, 2006, the Verrick foreclosure brings our outstanding loans down to eight with a total outstanding RLF balance at 10/31/06 of $1,073,360. Of those eight, five are current and two are seriously delinquent. This report shows Ga. Stair and Rail slightly behind. She has spoken with Mr. Musselwhite and expect to receive a payment from him today. We will give you an update on the legal proceedings regarding Verrick during executive session. The last report is the revenues by fund and expenditures by department report for the period of July through October, 2006. The summary report shows the expended percentage of appropriations for each individual department and the total for each fund. As of October 31st, all departments and divisions should be within 33% of their annual allowances. Overall, the General Fund was at 28%, the Water Fund at 25%, and the Landfill Fund at 29%.
EXECUTE SECURE DEED ON GEORGE HOLMES, JR. PROPERTY
Attorney Forehand reported that in the late 1990's, the county made a Revolving Loan Fund to George Holmes, Holmes Tire Company; that business went into bankruptcy and there was a sale approved by the bankers to George Holmes, Jr., and he continued in business and assumed his father’s indebtedness, and also that business went into default. As a part of the original sale from the father to the son, there was an agreement entered into by the county whereby it provide for liquidation of whatever the collateral was, and part of that collateral was the Holmes house on Pine Acres Drive, and the agreement was that if any money was received from that liquidation, that Ameris Bank would pay toward the county’s indebtedness. It turned out that there was no money generated from that sale, and he has revisited this issue, because when he was doing a title examination, he found this security deed open. He talked to Bob Evans and has received a letter from Bob confirming that there was no money generated from that disposition of the house as the bank actually took it back in the foreclosure. In his opinion, based on the agreement the county entered into back at that time, the appropriate thing to do would be for the county to execute a cancellation of that security deed on the house in Wispering Pines. Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to execute a cancellation of the security deed on George Holmes’ house in Wispering Pines, seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Administrator Crapse reported that 1) he attended several meetings and events this month; 2) there were no new SPLOST expenditures approved this month; 3) work on the Youth Ball Complex is still moving along very well. The bids on the curb and gutter work are due on November 10th. We have the preliminary drawings in on the concession buildings, with floor plans and elevations. The final construction drawings can be ready for bid within two weeks when we let the architect know what we want; 4) we made the County’s $5,000 contribution to the South Georgia Technical College Foundation during their fund drive last week; 5) we received email from the City of Cordele, dated November 8, 2006, stating that the City Commission had agreed at their November 7th Meeting to install the water meters, purchased and provided by the County for the Northside Project, at no cost to the County; 6) we received a letter from the CCPC reporting a street security light had been shot out at Truman & Ingram Streets. This situation is becoming a problem throughout the community, and the CCPC has asked for everyone’s help in reporting suspicious persons who may be responsible to the police, Sheriff or E-911; 7) a reminder to all students and parents or guardians of students who will be 16-years-old in 2007. Beginning on January 1, 2007, all 16-year-olds applying for a Class D driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course and 40 hours of supervised driving, 6 hours must be at night. With the parent or guardian’s sworn signature verifying that the driving requirements have been met; 8) due to a typographical error we could not get the Proclamations signed by the Board, so we have them at this time to be signed; 9) we received a Thank You note from the Chamber for our support of the 14th Annual Public Safety Appreciation Dinner; and 10) the Community of Character Word for the Month of November is Honesty. To be truthful and fair.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Nance to go into Executive Session to discuss real estate, potential litigation, and personnel, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mrs. Pheil to adjourn the meeting at 12:23 p.m., seconded by Mr. Nance, motion carried unanimously.