MINUTES OF THE CRISP COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
CALLED MEETING HELD ON JUNE 28, 2011
Chairman Wallace Mathis called the meeting to order, with Commissioners James D. Harris and Clark Henderson in attendance. Others present were County Administrator Lester E. Crapse, Jr., Finance Director Sherrie Leverett, and Secretary Linda Finch. Commissioner Henderson gave the invocation.
ADOPT FY-2012 BUDGET
Administrator Crapse reported that the Commissioners have a handout that shows where we are in the FY-12 Budget. This has been a long road but we still have to approve the 5-Year History later. He advised that the budget does require a one-mill tax increase. Chairman Mathis asked if the budget had any furlough days in it, and Mrs. Leverett advised that it had 4 furlough days in the form of unpaid holidays from January 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012, and it includes 1% salary increase. Chairman Mathis asked Mrs. Leverett to explain about the SPLOST and LOST taxes as the LOST sales tax rolls back the ad valorum taxes, and in the situation that we have had the last two or three years with declining sales tax revenue from about $406,000 a month to our average last year of about $280,000 a month, we are down over $100,000 a month that is not coming into our revenues, and that creates the problem we have now. The only way we can recoup some of that is a millage increase, but this is the last thing we wanted to do. Mrs. Leverett stated that we have had months where both of our sales taxes dropped anywhere from 35% to 36% over the previous year or the previous Issue's average; bottom line is the revenues are down. SPLOST and LOST are not the only revenues that are down, and she doesn't think we have a line item in our revenue budget that is not down. The expenses have actually gone up less than the cost of living increase; we have lived on surplus funds for two and half years to three years now and have pretty much exhausted everything that we are comfortable with there. Chairman Mathis advised that we do have a bright spot in that we are close to getting our Inland Port started. Administrator Crapse stated that this is the first increase in seven years, and even with the increase, it will take us back to the 2003 level of our tax levy. We held off as long as we could with our "rainy day" funds but they are at a minimum now and even more of a minimum as we go forward between now and November, when our taxes come in. Mrs. Leverett advised that our Tax Digest was down about $2.7 million this year. Commissioner Henderson stated that it is obvious that we cannot solve our problems with ad valorum taxes, but we do have to maintain a certain amount of reserve or we will receive bad audits, and we have to deliver service. He stated that this is his first budget and has been the toughest part of this job so far. The public has to understand that we have to deliver the services, the one mill is going to hurt all of us, but what is going to help is for the economy to come up. Mrs. Leverett advised that the last couple of sales taxes distributions have looked a little bit more promising, and our expenditure budget has dropped from $15.3 million last year to $14.6 million this year. Chairman Mathis stated that of all the SPLOST Issues that have been passed, this is the first one that has us in the situation where we are not going to generate enough revenues to fund the projects. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to adopt the Resolution approving the Fiscal Year-2012 Annual Budget and authorize the Chairman to sign, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously.
TABLE 5-YEAR HISTORY FOR ADVERTISING
Administrator Crapse asked that the Commissioners table the 5-Year History for Advertising. He stated that every year we have to do a five-year history that shows the proceeding five years and the current year as far as taxes are concerned in accordance with the law. That gives the public a good Birdseye view of what the trends are with regard to the budgets. For a variety of reasons we can't get good final numbers, and if we advertise this now, and the final numbers are out 3%, then we have to start all over with paying again to advertise along with having the public hearings over. We would like to get to a point that we are pretty comfortable that we are going to be within that 3% before we publish it in the paper. We actually have to take the newspaper page with the date on it to the Department of Revenue when we get the Tax Digest approved; you have to have it in the paper two-weeks prior to adopting the millage rate. Mrs. Leverett stated that we have to advertise seven days before we can have any public hearings, and we will have to have three of those since the millage is going up. Administrator Crapse reported that the issues with regard to the digest are that the digest got out so late the date for appeals will not be over until July 23-26. The law says we have to get the digest to the state by August 1st, clearly if we are going to make that date, we can't wait until the 26th or 27th; we have requested an extension, but we have not gotten an answer yet. We are not confident enough that we are going to get that extension to go ahead and publish the hearing dates; if they grant the extension, we will be in good shape, but the last time we asked for an extension, we didn't get it. We are somewhat comfortable with the fact that the other side of this is the tremendous changes that the legislature made in the assessment process this year, which really slowed things down, like having to send out assessment notices to all parcels instead of those that were changed, and other things that had to be done. When you don't have your assessment notices out in time to get the appeals in, then you are in the dark. The other thing is that the Tax Commissioner switched vendors this year, and thus far we haven't been able to get the information we need out of the new provider; we have the gross data but we don't have the breakout so that we can address the special service district versus the O & M. Also, the numbers that the Tax Commissioner submitted on mobile homes were the exact same amount to the dollar of last year, so there was an error in the mobile home information we got as well. We are still working out some of the bugs in the computer system and those kinds of things, everything else so far has been working pretty good on the other things that we have done, but this is the first time it has had to do this particular series of events in producing a digest. That has also hampered our ability to get this done. He recommends the Board table this until we can get a better handle and feel more comfortable with the numbers. Commissioner Henderson asked if the tax assessors had finalized the revaluation so that we can get back to the 40% assessment. Administrator Crapse replied that they had not as the way we had that set up was for them to do part of the work the first half of this year and finish up the work next year. Commissioner Henderson asked if the state is going to penalize us again because we will below the 40%; the Administrator stated that there is a moratorium and they have suspended any further penalties because of this. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to table the 5-Year History for Advertising, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE PROPOSED CHANGES TO CRISP COUNTY LOCAL GOVERNEMENT HEALTH PLAN
Administrator Crapse reported that they are requesting a plan change for our self-insured health plan, as just like our budget, we can't survive no increase or change anymore. We have worked with our Third Party Administrator (TPA) and they have gotten better discounts at Crisp Regional and Phoebe Putney hospitals. We didn't believe that our TPA was really working on our behalf primarily because Crisp Regional has ownership in Secure Health Plans, so it would be kind of hard for them to go to their boss and ask for more discounts for one of their customers. They have now been able to get those discounts with Crisp Regional and Phoebe Putney, which are the two biggest providers that we have in our network. We did look at another network and TPA, they came up with some outrageous figures, we challenged that, and it came back to where they could not backup the information that they gave us the first time. As a result of that, it turned out that they weren't going to be much better than our current providers, there was no guarantee, and we didn't feel comfortable with that. Also, we didn't want to hurt Crisp Regional. We also looked at our prescription provider and got a better deal from a competitor; now our current provider has asked for the opportunity for them to put in a re-quote. We have made up a little over $200,000 with increase discounts and also some savings that will be made by changing our plan just a little bit, but does not change it enough to get us out of the "grandfathered status", as you can only change your plan by a maximum of 5% or you have to comply with the new health plan. We don't want to do that until we have to. We have not had an increase in four years in our health plan, but we are recommending that we make the changes, we will remain with the current TPA, we will have minimums increases in the premiums by 5%, the deductibles, and the medical and in patient co-pays. This will bring our anticipated reserves back up to about $662,000 by the end of this current plan year. He advised that these are the things that we can do that will have the minimum impact on the plan, and it does put us in a position where we can make it with the budget we have planned. Also, the additional deductible will be paid by the people that are using the services as opposed to the premiums being spread across the whole base. The current TPA will also forfeit their service fee increases for the next year. He recommends the plan changes in the local government health plan. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to adopt the plan changes to the Crisp County Local Government Health Plan proposed by the Administrator, which include 5% increase in premiums along with increase in the deductibles and medical and in patient co-pays, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE ARCHITECTURAL CONTRACT FOR JAIL ADDITION
Administrator Crapse reported that he has the architectural contract for the jail addition of 24 beds, and the Sheriff has interviewed several architectures for professional services and chosen IPG. He has also met with the company that was chosen, and they have extended experience in correction facilities, etc. It is a lump sum contract, which includes programming and preliminary design, $31,500; construction documents, $63,000; bidding and negotiating the construction contracts, $5,300; and administration of the construction contract, $25,200; for a total of $126,000. They know they will not get their money until after the first of the year when SPLOST begins to come in, they are charging us 3% interest, and by the first of the year all of their work will be done except for monitoring the construction. He would recommend the Board approve the contract. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to adopt the architectural contract for the Jail addition to IPG for a total amount of $126,000, which includes 3% interest, with the understanding that we will defer the payment until as late as April 2012, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPROVE THE CONTRUCTION CONTRACT FOR T-HANGER AND FOR T-HANGERS FOR TAXIWAY AT THE AIRPORT
Administrator Crapes reported that he also has the construction contract for the pre-engineered steel T-Hanger, six bays with doors at the airport. The bidding process was done by the Department of Transportation, (DOT); Jones Construction Company was chosen, and the paperwork is in order; the contract is for $262,100. The bid bond is in effect now, the performance and payment bonds are included in the documents plus they have already provided the Certificates of Insurance. He advised that the DOT mailed out their contract yesterday, so the county will also have a contract with them, as they will provide all the money. He recommends approval of the construction contract with Jones Construction Company in the amount of $262,100, and also the contract with the DOT to provide the funds for both projects. The other contract is with Reeves Construction Company for $155,605.50. All the bonds are in order, they did not submit their Certificates of Insurance, but that is not required at bid time. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the construction contract with Jones Construction Company for the T-Hanger at the airport in the amount of $262,100, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Harris to approve the construction contract for the T-Hangers for the taxiway at the airport in the amount of $155,605.50, seconded by Mr. Henderson, motion carried unanimously. Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to give the Chairman the authority to sign the contract with the Department of Transportation to secure the funding of the Taxiway and T-Hangers, seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.
APPOINT VOTING MEMEBERS TO THE CRISP COUNTY POWER COMMISSION
Chairman Mathis appointed himself, Mr. Nance, and Mr. Culpepper as voting members on the Crisp County Power Commission Board from July 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.
DISCUSS BLUE HOLE
Administrator Crapse advised that he had a lengthy discussion with Commissioner Henderson the other day with regard to the Blue Hole and the things that are going on out there. He asked him to check with the other Commissioners, he hasn't had time, but between the two of them, they wanted to propose to write all the owners and ask them for essentially two things; 1) a permanent easement to clear that property so that there is visibility there, and 2) ask them to install "No Trespassing" signs around the property to put people on notice and also to help them with their liability. Chairman Mathis stated that there has been an ongoing conversation to come up a plan when they ever figure out what can be done and who gives permission, etc. Administrator Crapse advised that the purpose of clearing out the property is so there is visibility in there, and they think that will cut down on a lot of the illegal activity going on now. He will get the names and addresses that they have been corresponding with. Chairman Mathis stated that most of there conversations were about who may want to relinquish their rights of ownership and that may not go anywhere. Administrator Crapse advised that this would be an interim measure until we get a permanent solution; optionally they would put a fence around the whole thing.
LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR THE MOTOR SPORTS
Chairman Mathis stated that he wanted to adopt a motion to write a letter of support to the motor sports folks in Americus. He stated that John Walford is a point of contact to get the actual names so that we can do a letter of support for that project.
Motion was made by Mr. Henderson to adjourn the meeting at 11:49 a.m., seconded by Mr. Harris, motion carried unanimously.