MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MEETING HELD ON APRIL 14, 2009
Chairman A. James Nance called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m., with Commissioners James D. Harris, Brad Faircloth, William Culpepper, and Wallace Mathis in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, Jr., County Attorney Rick Lawson, Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Rev. Bill Kent gave the invocation, and Administrator Crapse led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the minutes of the meeting of March 10, 2009, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
REPORT FROM STATE REPRESENTATIVE BUDDY HARDIN
State Representative Buddy Hardin came give an update and review of the 2009 Legislative Session. He wanted to talk about a few of the bills that he knew the Commissioners followed very closely, with the biggest thing being the budget crisis. He advised that the budget is about $3 billion less than last year, $18.6 billion compared to close to $22 billion last year. Because of the federal stimulus monies we were able to return some things to the state, the biggest thing being the tax relief grant for this year, but unfortunately, we don't know whether it will be there next year, but at least we will know in advance whether money will be available or not. Senate Bill 200 was a bill that the Governor had put forth to reorganize the Department of Transportation, and basically would create a Transportation Authority, it was adopted as a substitute with the Governor will appoint a Planning Director for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Transportation Board will retain control of the Department and hire the Commissioner, and the Planning Director will operate separately and will do the long range planning the Department needs; when the plan is developed, it will have to be approved by the Governor and the Board and funded by the Legislature. House Bill 277 would have let the people vote on a 1% state-wide sales tax for transportation; if this plan passes next year, our area would get about $112 million over the next ten years, which will bring in about four times more money than we have gotten in the past. Senate Resolution 1 would freeze the evaluation on property, and a lot of things this year were going to negatively impact the Commissioners ability to raise the monies that are needed to furnish the services the counties need; this bill did not pass, however, it is not dead as this bill can come back next year. House Bill 228 reorganized our health and human services in the state, and this will impact the amount of money that has to go into healthcare; it created two departments and spit the Department of Human Services up a little bit. House Bill 160 is the Super Speeder Law, and this basically says that if you are going over 75 mph on a two-lane road, or if you are going over 85 mph on a four-lane road, then that is super speeding and there is an extra fine tacked on; this was one of the Governor's bills, and it did pass, It also contains provisions for particular young drivers that are caught DUI or taking drugs. The Sams Shortline Train Authority was on the brink of entirely being cut out, but Senator Crosby did a good job of getting that money allocated again, and it is funded for another year. The Veterans Park was another concern, but we are in good shape and everything stays the same as is. The Inland Port, The Cordele Inland Intermodel Facility, was another big item, which is moving along good, it is ready to go, He was able to get the Governor to put in a bond issue of $1.2 million to rehab some bridges, and it looks excellent to him. House Bill 149 allows high school students who might drop out because they are either way ahead or way behind the curve, they can use the QBE money to go to a Technical College or to go to a Junior College, and he thinks this will be good for our area. House Bill 261 is trying to stimulate the economy which says that a homeowner buying a house in this economy can get up to a $3600 tax credit. Senate Bill 82 said that a metal recycler, who buys metal, couldn't pay cash on the day he accepts the metal, and this is a good safety thing for our homeowners. Senate Bill 164 would have allowed billboard companies to cut a 700 foot strip of trees off the right-of-way and replace this with flowers and low growing vegetation in order to lower the height of their billboards; it was defeated in the house but it will be around next year. His first Bill, House Bill 216, changes the terms of our Superior Court. The Judges of this circuit asked that we do this, and we got this buy without any problems. House Bill 481 passed that gave tax breaks to small business so that they can create jobs. He thanked the Commissioners for coming up and letting him know what they wanted and he hopes that they have accomplished most of what they wanted this year. He advised that another Bill,which is up in the air, would impact our area, but he is glad that they will have time to study it before next year. It is a bill that would have tried to stimulate car sales and at the same time keep from hurting the counties on automobile taxes. The bill would include no sales tax on the sale of a car; however there would be a 7% title fee; counties would get $1,040 and the state would get $60 of the $2,000 cap up front, but there would be no ad valorum taxes on that vehicle from then on. The Association County Commissioners of Georgia was against this bill, but he thinks we need to look at it more closely as it may be a good thing, and he will need to know before next year how Commissioners want him to proceed with this. Commissioners thanked Mr. Hardin for the job he has done for our community and the knowledge and detail of the bills he has talked about, which shows the effort he has put in this year.
APPROVE CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS WEEK PROCLAMATION
Administrator Crapse reported that we have the annual Crime Victims' Rights Week Proclamation, which raises awareness of crime victim's rights week and provides other activities surrounding the event that include a balloon ceremony on April 28th and a Candlelight Vigil on April 30th. He read the Proclamation, which proclaimed National Crime Victims' Rights Week of April 26-May 2, 2009. Motion was made by Mr. Mathis to approve the Crime Victims' Rights Week Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
DFCS ANNUAL REPORT ON CHILD ABUSE
Deborah Smith, Director of Crisp County Department of Family and Children Services, along with Rosemary Norsworthy-Wells, Foster Care Placement Supervisor, and Linda Rollins, Child Protective Services Supervisor were present. Mrs. Smith advised that they are required by law to come to the Commissioners each year to talk about child abuse statistics information. She thanked Commissioners for what they do for our county. She brought the annual report, and reported that for 2008 they had a total of 322 reports of child abuse and neglect, which is an improvement over 2007 at 397 reports of child abuse. Of the 322 reports for 2008, 85 were screened out, they accepted 121 for services, substantiated and opened 30 of those, substantiated and closed 21 of those, unsubstantiated and opened 1, unsubstantiated and closed 69, and had 116 diversions. She advised that the numbers have decreased from last year because they are keeping children safer in our community because of groups like Prevent Child Abuse, Crisp County Community Council, Parents of Teachers, Healthy Families, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Big Sisters and Big Brothers, and she really appreciates those groups. The number of children involved in the neglect investigations were 184, with the highest number of children were between the ages of 1 and 3 at 22.28%; next highest group was between the ages of 7 and 9 at 20.11%, next were children between the ages of 4 to 6 at 14.13%; 118 were black children, 66 were white children, 1 American Indian, and 3 were Hispanic. Of these children, 45.65% were males and 54.35% were females. She advised that the total number of children involved in foster care in FY 2008 were 110; they started with 97 children, 13 children entered, and the good news is that 75 exited this program with 35 children left. There were 23 children between the ages of 1 and 3, 18 between the ages of 4 and 6, 23 between the ages of 7 and 9, 13 between the ages of 10 and 12, 18 between the ages of 13 and 15, and 10 between the ages of 16 and 18, with 73 back, 27 white, 5 were multi-racial, 5 were unable to determine their ethnicity, and 5 were Hispanic, with 50 being male and 60 were female. Of these children, 22 were adopted, 3 were emancipated, 59 were reunited with their family, 24 went with relatives, and 2 were in long-term foster care. She advised that also their ranking in child abuse is getting better as a year ago Crisp County was one of the top five in the highest number of child abuse neglect, and we are now at 85. The temporary assistance to needy families, TANIF, $231,315 was expended for last fiscal year, $6,474,752 in food stamps, $18,494.84 for employment services, $546,319 for child care, and for Medicaid $31,859,055.05.
APPROVE CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH PROCLAMATION
Administrator Crapse advised that the Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation is to bring attention and focus to the problem of child abuse each year by declaring April as Child Abuse Month in Crisp County and hosting public awareness events throughout the county. He read the Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation urging all citizens to protect Crisp County's children and help prevent child abuse and neglect. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously. Susan Leger-Boike, Chairman of Prevent Child Abuse, advised that because of the rain they have not gotten the pinwheels out but hope to get them out in the next few days.
APPROVE NATIONAL DONATE LIFE MONTH PROCLAMATION
Administrator Crapse reported that LifeLink of Georgia, the state's non-profit organ and tissue recovery organization, has asked that the Board to proclaim April as Donate Life Month in Crisp County. Through publication and actions such as this Proclamation, thousands of lives are saved or enhanced each year. There are nearly 2800 people in Georgia awaiting a second chance at life, over half are African Americans, and over 100,000 men, women, and children in the United States are on the organ transplant waiting list, and the need for organ donors are more needed than ever. He read the National Donate Life Month Proclamation to honor all those who made the decision to give the gift of life, to focus attention on the extreme need for organ, eye and tissue donation, and to encourage all residents to take action and sign up on Georgia's Donor Registry. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the National Donate Life Month Proclamation and giving the Chairman the authority to sign the Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Mathis, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK PROCLAMATION
Administrator Crapse advised that the National Small Business Week Proclamation recognizes and encourages small businesses in our community and applauds their contribution to the economic growth and success of our community; it is an annual event to bring focus and education as to how much small businesses do within our community and around the nation. He read the Proclamation advising that more than 97% of Georgia's businesses are small businesses comprising over 43% of the state's 3.4 million employees, and Cordele-Crisp County has 630 small businesses employing more than 10,000 people from the area. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the National Small Business Week Proclamation, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously. Monica Simmons, Executive Director of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, reported that Crisp County was designated as an Entrepreneur friendly community a couple of years ago, and the Chamber can offer a lot of technical services to anyone looking to open or expand a business. She thanked Commissioners and Representative Hardin for the bill that was passed to help small businesses.
INVITATION TO THE "GEORGIA FARM HOUSE"
Tucker Price, County Extension Agricultural Agent, brought personal invitations to the Commissioners and Administrator and invited them to the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents "Farm House" during the County Commissioners annual meeting in Savannah. He advised that it will be at the Civic Center in Savannah on April 25 & 26, 2009, with commodities from all across Georgia.
REVIEW OF COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Gerald Mixon from Middle Flint Regional Development Center advised Commissioners that the Comprehensive Plan began thirteen months ago, and they have to satisfy some state planning requirements to maintain eligibility for certain state grants, loans, and permits. The first phase was of the Plan was completed in September, 2008 when we submitted a Community Assessment to the state for review, which basically consists of a lot of facts and figures. The requirements that we have to address now call for identifying areas in the community that have unique characters, and we are required to come up with some implementation measures to either maintain them in their present format or character or either try to come up with something suitable in that area that you would like to achieve for the purpose of making it a livable community. There are a total of twelve character areas addressed. Part of the planning process requires us to identify issues and opportunities confronting the community in which the community was going to address. We also have to have a short-term work program, which identifies specific activities or programs that we are proposing to undertake, the approximate time we want to accomplish them, the estimated costs, and basically who will be responsible for them. It also shows what the county identified and what was accomplished when the Plan was reviewed in 2002. The last part of the Comprehensive Plan is the local input that has been identified, and general statements from Commissioners that they are abiding by to help improve the quality of life in the county. This is still in a draft form, and the real purpose this morning is to get a Resolution from the Board Authorizing Submission of the Draft Document so we can enter it into the state mandated regional and state review; only after it has gone through this complete process will the Board be in a position to adopt the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Mixon asked that he have permission to continue working with the County Administrator in making those last minute refinements that may be needed. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution Authorizing Submission Draft Community Agenda Element Greater Crisp Comprehensive Plan 2009-2029, and granting Mr. Mixon the authority to continue working with the County Administrator in making the last minute refinements that may be needed, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
REPLACEMENT OF FIRE TRUCK
Administrator Crapse reported that they have been searching for a replacement of the fire truck that was totaled in the accident last year; we didn't budget it because we didn't anticipate the unfortunate accident that we had last year. The insurance company sent us a check for $70,000 for the truck, it is hardly enough to purchase a truck, but it is a start. There is currently $85,000 in SPLOST for fire equipment, and we have some surplus vehicles that are charged to the fire department that are currently being put up for bids on GovDeals. We then would probably need around $30,000 from the General Fund Contingency Plan in order to purchase the truck. We are proposing if we put in the whole $85,000 from SPLOST that would leave nothing for other equipment needs that may come about over the course of the next couple of years before we get any new SPLOST money. Also, if we sent out an RFP for a specific truck built to order we can expect two things: 1) it will take six to twelve months to get that truck, and 2) it will probably be more costly simply because prices will go up. He advised that because of the economy, there are vehicles that are on the ground today that we have been looking that will meet our needs, and we feel like given the opportunity to negotiate with these companies, we can come up with the best deal for the county. We would like to get the Board's approval to use the $70,000 that we received from insurance, sell those surplus vehicles and add that to the pot, and depending on how we come out in money, put some of SPLOST money in there and supplement some money out of the General Fund contingency fund. We think we can pay for it all and not have to finance it as we know we have a couple of more rough years ahead. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to authorize Administrator Crapse to purchase a fire truck with up to $50,000 in contingency along with the insurance and SPLOST funds and also to negotiate with the vendors on a truck for one ready to deliver, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE REQUEST FOR TAX REFUND FOR FULTZ BROS., INC.
Administrator Crapse reported that he has received a written request from Fultz Bros., Inc. stating that they have been charged for improvements that haven't been on the property for several years. He has sent this request to Chief Appraiser Quick and received a memo back from Mr. Quick advising that this item has not come to the attention of the Board of Assessors, however, he has verified that there was an error in the assessment, only two septic tanks on the property instead of five. He would recommend that the Board approve the refund to Fultz Bros. for 2006, 2007, 2008 in an approximate total of $182 subject to the computation by the Tax Commissioner. Motion was made by Mr. Mathis to approve the refund for 2006, 2007, and 2008 to Fultz. Bros. for the approximate amount of $182 subject to the computation of the Tax Commissioner, seconded by Mr. Faircloth, motion carried unanimously.
Mrs. Leverett reported that today's packet includes the executive summary for the month of March 2009 as well as year to date, which includes three quarters of Fiscal Year 6/30/2009. The first page contains the report of revenues and expenditures for our three major funds. In the General Fund, we are reporting monthly revenues of $597,024; year to date revenues of $10,440,167; monthly expenditures $841,927; and year to date expenditures of $9,768,653. These numbers bring General Fund revenues to 74.87% and expenditures to 70.06% of annual projections and leave us with $671,514 in net revenues over expenditures to date. For the Landfill Fund, we have $88,641 in monthly revenues; $830,275, YTD; $128,542 in monthly expenses; $998,679 YTD. The Landfill lost another ($39,901) during the month of March increasing its YTD net loss to ($168,403). The total tonnage received for the month of MARCH of 3090.50, is up a little over 400 tons from last month, but continues to remain below last year's monthly average by about 900 tons. Approximately 53% of that was received from Onyx under their commercial contract and 15% under the City of Cordele free residential contract. GEFA Loans are current at $3,488,396. For the month of March, the Water Fund recorded revenues of $33,084; YTD $304,061. Expenditures for the month totaled $16,878; YTD, $284,726 leaving it with a net gain at 3/31/09 of $19,335. Total usage for the month was 5,550,000 gallons and the USDA Bonds are current at $1,705,347. Cash on hand as of March 31st, the General Fund has $7,229,719; the Landfill Fund, $1,911,448, the revolving loan fund $177,469, the SPLOST Funds, $4,694,784 and the Water Fund ended the month of with $927,047 giving us a county wide total of $14,940,467. The SPLOST budget to actual report for the 2000 Issue, as of March 31, 2009, we have spent $15.7 million of the $17.6 million dollars collected, leaving us with $1.9 million to complete the various City and County projects associated with this issue. The SPLOST budget to actual report for the 2005 Issue, March's receipt of $294,261, representing January retail sales brings our monthly average to $373,068. If you turn ahead a couple of pages to the bar graph, you will see that it is slightly higher than March of 2008 but about $70,000 less than last month. We have now passed the 1/2 mark on the 2005 SPLOST. This distribution represents the 37th of 72 for a total received of $13.8 million. We have spent just over $13 million. Following that is a monthly detail listing of all the SPLOST Fund expenditures for both issues. It was a large month for SPLOST disbursements, total reaching $2,028,927. Projects benefiting from the 1% Special Local Option Sales Tax revenues included the New Courthouse, $1.7 million; Economic Development, $250,000; the City of Cordele, $55,885; County Roads, $6,230, the Town of Arabi, $5,683 and the CCSO, $1,087. In the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund monthly report, which includes the balance and status of all our CDBG Revolving Loan Fund Accounts. We remain at nine (9) outstanding loans with a total balance due of $2,173,001. Of those nine (9) six (6) are current and three (3) delinquent. The last report included in your packet is the revenues by fund and expenditures by department report for the end of the third quarter of this fiscal year. The summary report shows the expended percentage of appropriations for each individual department and the total for each fund. As of March 31st, all departments and divisions should be within 75% of their annual allowances. Overall, as of March 31, 2009 the General Fund was at 70%, the Water Fund at 50% and the Landfill fund at 68%.
Administrator Crapse reported that 1) he attended several meetings and events last month; 2) the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant is still on hold but expect 50% to be available 2009 FY and the remainder 2010 FY; 3) the Courthouse project continues with no major delays from the recent weather events. Brickwork is scheduled for completion this week. First floor prime is complete with paint TBC this week. Second Floor prime is complete with paint by the 16th. Elevator installation is in progress, security doorframes will be installed this week and the millwork contractor will mobilize this week. Parking lot work was delayed but will begin this week if weather permits. We do have a major impasse with some interior doors and windows where plan changes were made, probably by error, but they want us to pay to fix the error. More to come if this is a big issue; 4) there was one new SPLOST expenditure approved this month, $6,230 for assistance in clearing the Big Tex property between Midway Road and I-75. This was more cost effective than using our forces in the areas their mulcher could work. We are 50% complete with the clearing work for the Big Tex Project; 5) the Governor has approved $207M for Stimulus Package road improvements; there was nothing for Crisp County. Our State Aid projects are waiting for the announcements after July 1st; 6) funding for Sam Shortline and for repair of the two railroad bridges for the HOG & CIP made it through the legislature, we now wait and hope it gets pass the Governor's Veto Pen; 7) we are also looking to find some stimulus funding somewhere. Sherrie will be going to the workshop on the special stimulus CDBG round on Friday. We are also working two routes on the Broadband stimulus funding for the 800 MHz upgrade and one with the Power Commission on rural high speed Internet. There also may be some COPS funding for new security officers in the new Courthouse. From energy, we are looking for some funding for a methane gas collection system, from which we could sell carbon credits and the gas for process power or electrical generation; 8) we had a GEMA/FEMA team in on Saturday to review the damage from the rain events and they also got a first hand look at the storm damage on Friday night. They were pleased with the records that had been kept and we should hear, maybe today, if we will be eligible for some recovery funds; 9) we have another meeting with GDOT on the closing and detouring of the 101 northbound on-ramp; 10) we received a letter from Mediacom announcing another rate increase on most of their digital services and their wire maintenance service; and 11) the Community of Character Word for the Month of April is CLEANLINESS. Not being messy. Picking up after yourself. Free from dirt, neat and tidy.
DISCUSS GUN CLUB
Administrator Crapse reported that we had been contacted a week ago by the DOT saying that if we could get their consultant on board and get them to do some work for us, they will have some money they can help us out with the Gun Club situation. We have been working with that and yesterday they did provide us with a contract for services. DOT has engaged a consultant, and that consultant will be responsible for a relocation plan, an initial interview with the property owners and tenants, offer to purchase some land, negotiate the purchase, do the pre-closing preparation, present the re-location benefits that will be available, provide re-location advisory services, file for re-establishment expenses, file a moving claim, file in lieu of payment, and provide a moving inspection. The consultant will handle the Phase I Environmental and Soil Sampling, provide the appraiser and a review of the appraisal. From the county's point of view, they will provide us with $15,000 for funding to cover survey and attorney fees, $20,000 for the demolition of the buildings on the site, $161,000 for the purchase of the land, and allocated an estimated $50,000 for re-location assistance to the club. All totaled it comes to $286,690 with the consultant fees, and he thinks this is a good outcome for the county. Mr. Mathis asked if the Commissioners, the Gun Club, and the consultant couldn't sit down at the same time and try to settle all the issues as we go thru it, he thinks this will solve some of the back and forth talk and will come out with a better outcome. Administrator Crapse advised that we can't negotiate this, but we can ask that we be included as observers, but we can't interfere in the negotiations. Mr. Faircloth advised that the Gun Club has questioned the integrity of the timing because they know that there is plans to extend the runway and they know they were in the way of that runway and plans, and now this happens; naturally their first thoughts are what are you guys trying to do. He understands their question, he understands how the timing looks, but he doesn't know of any authority we have over the Department of Transportation.
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adjourn the meeting at 11:11 a.m., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.