MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
CALLED MEETING HELD ON JUNE 29, 2010
Chairman Authur James Nance called the meeting to order at 10:00 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., Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Commissioner Culpepper gave the invocation, and Chairman Nance welcomed all in attendance.
ADOPT RESOLUTION FOR THE FY-2011 BUDGET
Sherrie Leverett reported that we have the Resolution to adopt the FY-2011 Budget, the budget remains county-wide at $22,281.58, and it will be the eighth year in a row that we have managed to balance the county budget with no increase in our millage rate. It does include a withdrawal of $1 million from surplus funds, and for FY-09, 10, 11 combined, our draw from surplus funds will be about $2.7 million. We are now below the threshold of what is considered safe in our surplus funds for the first time in a long time. She read the Resolution including the estimated revenues and expenditures: General Fund at $14,453,667, Law Library at $31,000, Jail Fund at $158,000, DARE Fund at $25,000, E911 Fund at $758,791, Northside Dev/CDBG 08 at $100,000, 2000 SPLOST at $1,235,500, 2005 SPLOST at $3,600,000, Water Distribution at $415,600, Landfill Fund at $1,423,000, CDBG RLF at $30,500, Asset Forfeiture at $50,000 making total budget of $22,281,058. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution for the FY-2011 Budget. Mr. Faircloth advised that he thinks it will be important for them to understand that adopting this budget can be in violation of GA Code 31-3-14 on the grounds that it says that "if the taxing authority of the county should deem the budget unreasonable, it shall promptly return the budget to the county board of health with its objections attached thereto for the purpose of resubmission". It also tells us that we are to levy a rate of tax to support whatever is reasonable. That has not been done, to his knowledge for it to be sent back to them and for them to resubmit a budget, so he thinks we will be in violation of this code to adopt that budget until that process takes place. Chairman Nance advised that our county attorney is not here for legal advise. Administrator Crapse reported that this is a statue that exists, he personally doesn't believe that there is anything here that requires the county to set a tax levy; although it has not been done officially in writing, the Board of Health has been informed through their representatives of the amount of dollars that has been allotted to the Board of Health. He believes that we are on firm ground adopting the budget, but the Board could amend the budget prior to adoption if they would like to. Mr. Faircloth also stated that in this code the county would fix and levy a tax rate sufficient to raise such amount and in the same manner prescribed for levying taxes for other county purposes, means it should be provided the same weight as everything else we do in the county. He thinks more debate and scrutiny of our priorities is at hand and needs to be done. Chairman Nance advised that the Board has the option of amending the budget. Administrator Crapse stated that the Board of Health did receive our objection by fax in terms of our allocation to them in accordance with the outside agency list, so they were given advise as to how much was there based on what their budget request was. If the issue is being informed, that is not an issue. Mr. Culpepper made the second to Mr. Harris' motion to adopt the Resolution for the FY-11 Budget for discussion. Mr. Faircloth stated that the way it has been told to us is that this is all the money we have left, so who are you going to cut to give them more money; he thinks there are some expenses as he can see our people have a high priority of having health services versus pay raises or this particular event being paid for than others. Chairman Nance asked if he had any suggestions. Lori Hobbs, Health Department Director, stated that she has expressed several views as far as her concerns of county funds and not being able to provide services. She stated that last Monday the Board of Health met and approved the budget with the $90,000 that the Commissioners are proposing that they get. After that meeting, she had to inform two employees, a clerk and nurse, that they would no longer have jobs as of August 31st, and every employee in the Health Department will be furloughed one day a month starting in September. Her objection to this budget is that they are county employees with state benefits, and she feels like if it is equal for them, everybody else should have to take a furlough day as well to balance this budget. The Health Department is a vital source to this community, and she believes that they provide services here that people cannot get anywhere else because they cannot afford to go anywhere else. Administrator Crapse asked Mrs. Hobbs if he signed her paycheck, she relied no but the County Board of Health did; he asked if he tells her when to come to work or not and if she abided by county or state holidays, and she replied that they abide by state holidays; he asked if they are on county's health insurance, and she replied that they are on state insurance; and he asked if they were subject to the employee policies of Crisp County, and she replied that they are subject to policies of the Crisp County Health Department and the State of Georgia. Administrator Crapse advised that all of those things say that she is not a county employee as they are not paid from our payroll, they have none of our benefits, and they are not subject to our personnel policies in any way. He reported that we provide a stipend for the Health Department, we provide a building valued at $102,234 a year, and we provide a vehicle at the cost of $4,600 a year. She stated that she doesn't think that the Health Department asked for any thing unreasonable to provide services of this county, they are very frugal with their funds that they receive, and in order to provide services they are going to need funds or the people are not going to be able to receive the services they normally do. People that no longer have health insurance come to them because they have nowhere else to go. Mr. Faircloth's stated that he is concerned about what this code states and the fact of what our responsibilities are pertaining to that. Chairman Nance advised that he serves on the Board of Health and on this Board, and he thinks that the Administrator, Finance Director, and all Department Heads have worked hard to get to this point in our budget, Commissioners can vote to change it, but he thinks the administrative staff has done their responsibility in what we have asked them to do. He doesn't think this is personal by no means, it is just difficult financial times, and we have to do whatever we can to try to get through it. Mr. Faircloth thinks this warrants that we have another called meeting with a debate on our priority spending. Mr. Harris asked how long we had until we need to adopt the budget, and Administrator Crapse advised until tomorrow. Mr. Faircloth advised that he thought there was a note in the packet that stated that the school board would not have their millage rate adopted until July 23rd, and the Administrator stated that this is budget and not setting the millage. Mrs. Leverett advised that we did get the final digest numbers from the Tax Assessors and there was another reduction of about $25,0000 plus we have $18 million in appeals that we don't have an answer on, which could amount to $90,000 to $100,000 if they are all approved. Mr. Faircloth advised that Mrs. Hobbs made an interesting point that he thinks we should have a legal opinion on which states that if they are having to take furlough days and we are not, he is not suggesting that we furlough anybody in the county, he suggests that this warrants further debate. The Administrator advised that if the Board wants to table this adoption, it would require a continuing resolution so that the county can continue under it's current budget after tomorrow. Mr. Faircloth stated that he would make a motion that we do that Chairman Nance advised that there is already a motion and second on the floor that has to be disposed of first. Mr. Culpepper asked where else could we cut as the code states that we should levy taxes, but Mr. Faircloth is saying we don't want to raises taxes. Mr. Faircloth said we will go into a debate and debate it. The Administrator advised that the Board can cut any other department as they wish to. Mrs. Leverett advised that we have to consider the fact that our departments, our directors, our Constitutional Officers, and our leaders, including you guys, have been very frugal, just as the health department has through the years to get to where we are when this bad economy hit; we happened to be in good enough shape to weather this somewhat better than a lot of other counties and cities. Mrs. Leverett stated that everybody has been very cooperative, and if you are asking her, she doesn't know where we can cut as everything is as tight as it could possibly be to continue our level of services. Mr. Faircloth said based on this particular code he feels it warrants further debate. Mr. Mathis asked how long the employees had been with the health department that she is letting go, and Mrs. Hobbs replied one has been with the health department six years and one since April, and had she known that this budget cut was coming she would not have hired her. Mr. Mathis asked if these positions where already staffed, and she advised yes. He asked how many people she had on her staff, and she replied four clerical, six nurses, and one environmental health. She also has other clinics that come in during the month. Mr. Faircloth asked how we table this, Chairman Nance stated if the motion was withdrawn. Mr. Faircloth asked Mr. Harris if he would withdraw his motion, and he replied no. Mr. Harris asked Chairman Nance if he thought ample discussion of the budget process was made at the Board of Health meeting. Chairman Nance advised that the Board has discussed it, and the Board would love to have the money in the budget to keep the positions. Mr. Faircloth said his point was that we have not debated it from the standpoint of it having equal weight of everything we debated. Mr. Mathis asked Mrs. Hobbs if the Board of Health came up with these numbers to release these two employees. She advised yes with the $40,000 cut they have because that would leave no money in their operating fund balance, and they have to have a balance. Mr. Mathis asked if they got money from the state, and Mrs. Hobbs advised that they took a 12% cut from the state. Mr. Mathis asked how much the state budget was and how much it was cut, and Michelle Mathis advised they have cut a total of 12% in two years. Mr. Mathis asked what those figures were, and Mrs. Mathis said she didn't know that. Chairman Nance asked what the overall budget was at the Health Department, and Mrs. Mathis stated about $500,000 with the state cut, before it was a little over $600,000. Mr. Mathis advised that he talked with Mrs. Mathis a couple of days ago, and she advised that they say it is going to be worse next year, that is where our problem is also, as when he was running a couple of years ago everything thing was fine, but when he got into office, the bottom fell out and you use up money that you really don't usually do. He stated that in this budget year, things are kinda holding it's own ground again, meaning it is below normal, but the fact is all of our revenues are still below what normal is, and we don't have any way of knowing what next year will bring. Mr. Faircloth said he is not asking for them to find a way for them to justify in their mind laying off two people, what he is saying is we need to debate this from a prospective of if this is equal to everything else; he didn't do this in the beginning because he didn't' t realize that. Mr. Mathis stated that he doesn't want to treat this as a light manner, and as a Board we have not gone over everything in Mrs. Hobbs budget, but he wants to make sure everybody feels comfortable with this. Mrs. Leverett advised that should things get better, hopefully they will, they do have the authority to make budget adjustments at any time during the year should we see that sales tax, or whatever, starts picking up we can make the health department a priority to receive additional revenues. Chairman Nance advised that the health department can't make decisions based on the unknown, she has to know or not. Mr. Faircloth advised that he can bring his constituents priorities to this table and we will find the money. Mr. Harris asked Mrs. Hobbs if she could operate with what she has, and she replied that they could operate, but services will be greatly decreased, as an example, on a family planning clinic day if we have 28 patients scheduled we might be able to schedule 20 because you want have the additional nurse. She advised that they have a 2 to 3 month waiting period for some of these clinics, and they would have to wait even longer. We are already in the high percentage rate as far our rate with STD's and HIV's, and if they are not allowed to provide the services to these people, their rates are only going to get higher. She advised that they have an active tuberculosis case now, and it takes one nurse to take care of that patient because of the man-hours and the paperwork. Chairman Nance stated that we have streamlined the budget the best way we possibly could unless there is a way we can re-prioritize and he is not sure how we can do that, as we are only dealing with an X amount of dollars. Mrs. Hobbs advised that they are already down to one environmentalist and their budget is not going to allow them to add another environmentalist now because of the funds. Mr. Mathis asked what an environmentalist does, and Jerome Deal, District Environmentalist, advised that they do food service inspections, on site sewage permits and inspections, handle rabies cases, and hotel inspections. Mr. Faircloth thinks we should get a legal opinion on what this code states as he believes that adopting the budget will be in violation of this code as it has not been debated; it clearly states that a levy or tax rate sufficient to raise such amount at the same time in the same manner prescribes for levying taxes for other county purposes. It also states that if we deem it to be unreasonable, which obviously we did if we are going to cut them 50% in two years, then which part of their budget is unreasonable. He doesn't think he needs to know every detail about what service they provide, what they are going to do or how they are do it. Chairman Nance advised that all the Commissioners have looked at the budget and the recommendations that we had, and he doesn't know exactly where to get it from but he will be open to the wishes of the Board. Mr. Harris advised that he doesn't' want anyone to think that he is hardballing the health department but we do have a tight budget. Mrs. Hobbs said she understood that but they serve the minority population not the majority population in Crisp County. Mr. Mathis advised that the question is has applicable consideration been given. Administrator Crapse advised that the health department came to the first budget workshop and presented their proposal, we were given no guidance from the Board to the contrary to what was proposed; they came a second time to a work session/called meeting and presented their views, we got no further guidance to change anything; the director came to see him in his office to talk about it, he told her they could come to this meeting, but we had received no different guidance but that he would be happy to support their addition if we had a move in the digest, because that is where taxes come from for everybody across the board. Instead of getting a plus upward we received a $3 million deficient on our final digest. He also advised that the nurse that is being proposed laid off came to see him and he had a lengthy conversation with her, so when it comes to consideration, he believes they have been given much more consideration than anyone else that the board has dealt with regard to this budget. He advised that our departments are hurting, but everybody is hurting in this budget and nobody got what they asked for including our Constitutional Officers. This is a question for the Board; he has done his work but it is a question for the Board. He advised that they can vote on the motion on the floor, which is to adopt or they can make a budget revision and take it out of reserves. Mr. Faircloth advised that he is not suggesting that we take it out of reserves, what he is saying is that we can have a debate and he can bring him the cuts of where we can find the money. Mr. Mathis asked if he wanted to suggest them now or want to wait until that time. Mr. Faircloth stated that first of all he would like to look at the budget, but he is sure he can debate some pretty hefty salaries, some priorities that we have versus people getting treated, and he can debate expenditures for training and trips and things like that could make a difference in this budget; anybody that is willing to put forth the time to look at the budget and find those cuts and debate those cuts we will do it. He realizes it takes time and effort, but that's what we take an oath to do. Mr. Mathis stated that is what we have been doing the last month, and this problem didn't start this morning. Mr. Faircloth said it didn't start this morning, but we haven't' been debating it from this argument. Mr. Mathis stated that maybe not in your mind, but everything he looks at he takes the same consideration for them as everybody else, and if there were some issues that we needed to go over, we should have been discussing this for the past month. Mr. Faircloth said he just found that code, and he found out the way he was presenting it was wrong. Mrs. Leverett advised that if there is anything the Commissioner need that they haven't provided, she would be glad to get it for them as she thought that they had provided them with everything that they needed. Mr. Faircloth said an agenda is what has been presented. He advised that over the last five years many of our employees have had significant increases, yes we do a good job of managing our money. Chairman Nance asked if everybody is clear with the explanation and information they received and is satisfied with it. Chairman Nance advised that we have a motion and second on the floor to approve the budget, he called for the question, and motion carried with Commissioner Faircloth voting no.
APPROVE FY-11 TRANSIT CONTRACT WITH GDOT
Administrator Crapse reported that this is the standard contract we have with the 5311 Transit program. This program provides public transit to Crisp County, it is a great program for our community at virtually no cost to the county, and he recommends the Boards approval and authorize the chairman to sign. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the FY-11 Transit Contract with GDOT and authorize the chairman to sign the necessary paperwork, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE RESOLUTION ON GEFA LOAN DATED OCTOBER 26, 2000
Administrator Crapse reported that as part of the paperwork for lowering the interest rate on our outstanding GEFA Loans, GEFA discovered that they had no documentation from the Board on the October 26, 2000 Loan. We received and spent those loaned funds, but they need to correct their records and the required documentation in their records to cover them. They have drawn up an extract of the minutes for that purpose, and he recommends the Board adopt the Resolution for GEFA's records. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to adopt the Resolution on GEFA Loan dated October 26, 2000, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
NACO PRESCRIPTION DISCOUNT CARD PROGRAM
Administrator Crapse reported that we have received some correspondence from National Association of County Commissioners that basically is a prescription drug program that has been available to counties and county employees, but apparently that program has been expanded to cover the citizens of any county that has signed up. According to the sheet, it is free, it saves approximately 22%, and he would like the Board's approval to investigate this program further and determine the requirements and conditions of the program and try to make this benefit available to our citizens. By common consent, Commissioners authorized Administrator Crapse to look into the NACO Prescription Discount Card Program for the citizens of the county.
SET DATE OF JULY 15TH AS THE REGULAR JULY COMMISSION MEETING
Administrator Crapse reported that the MEAG annual meeting is set for the time of our July regular meeting on July 13th, we could move the meeting from Tuesday, July 13th to Thursday July 15th if the Board Approves. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to change the regular meeting in July to July 15th to accommodate the conflict of the MEAG annual meeting, seconded by Mr. Mathis, motion carried unanimously.
SET DATE OF JULY 23RD AS THE DATE TO ADOPT THE 2010 MILLAGE RATE
Administrator Crapse reported that they have been advised by the Board of Education that they would not approve their digest in time for the regular meeting, and they intend to adopt their millage rate at an evening meeting on July 22nd. We would need to have a called meeting to adopt the county millage rate, which has to include their millage rate. We are recommending that be on July 23rd, the reason for this is that Mrs. Adkins, Tax Commissioner, has to make an appointment to go to the Department of Revenue to get the digest approved before August 1st or we will have a penalty. This will give her a week to get her an appointment in Atlanta, plus that date also has to be advertised. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to set the date of July 23rd as the date to adopt the 2010 millage rate, seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried.
APPROVE RLF OF $60,000 TO IDA
Administrator Crapse reported that the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) had a meeting this morning regarding the Inland Port. There is a piece of property that the IDA needs to purchase, they really have no funds as they have tied up their remaining SPLOST money that they have coming to them at this time. We do have money in the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), and he is proposing that the Board approve an RLF loan in the amount of $60,000 to the IDA for the purpose of buying that property. The collateral for that loan will be approximately $220,000 worth of rock on the property. There is some discussion as to whether they own the rock if the property goes because of all the different bankruptcy proceedings that are going on. He proposed the Board approve the $60,000 RLF loan with collateral being the rock, and if it turns out that they don't own the rock, then the loan should be turned into a grant out of the RLF so that we can move forward and get the Inland Port going immediately. Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to take Administrator Crapse's recommendation to approve the RLF of $60,000 to IDA with collateral of the rock, and if the rock is not collateral it will turn into a grant out of the RLF, seconded by Mr. Faircloth, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE JOSEPH A. BANKS DISCOUNT PROGRAM
Administrator Crapse reported that he was contacted by a representative of Joseph A. Bank Clothiers, and they have a program where if the county signs up for the program, any county employee can get a 20% discount in any Joseph A. Bank store in the nation. This will be no cost to the county, it is a way to build up their business, and offer our employees a discount. By common consent, Commissioners approved the Administrator to enter into the program with Joseph A. Bank for a 20% discount on clothing to county employees.
ADMINISTRATOR & FINANCE DIRECTOR TO COME BACK WITH RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BOARD TO ADDRESS REGARDING HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Mr. Mathis asked if Commissioners wanted Administrator Crapse and Mrs. Leverett to research the budget more closely regarding the Health Department and see what solution they could use to find a remedy in helping them work on their deficient. Chairman Nance advised that we do want to do everything we can to help our Health Department. Administrator Crapse stated that in the next few days, they will provide them with a number of recommendations for the Board to address, and they can do a budget revision. Administrator Crapse advised that he has met with Bob Evans and Monica Simmons, and he had received a new request for another 25% of the Darton expenses money for 2011; right now that money is not included in the budget. He advised that he will give the recommendations to them and it will be their choice and feel free for any Board member to provide some input into that process as well over the next couple of days.
GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to go into Executive Session to discuss real estate and personnel, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
COME OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
Motion was made by Mr. Culpepper to come out of Executive Session, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adjourn the meeting at 2:00 p.m., seconded by Mr. Culpepper, motion carried unanimously.