Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
 
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Welcome to the Pike County Times.com 2006-2007 Board of Commissioners Page

This is my way of providing accountability in County Government. Shedding light on our county government is very important. Public scrutiny will encourage questions from the public as to why our representatives act on our behalf. Public scrutiny will also encourage a dialogue between our county government and its citizens.

I believe that citizens have every right to provide our opinions to our representatives, and I believe that we are obligated to bring information to our representatives so they can make an educated decision on our behalf. I also believe that citizens have an obligation to ask questions of our government representatives in order to ensure that our representatives are acting in our best interest.

Citizens and county government should work hand in hand to keep Pike County a great place to live.

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AGENDA
SPECIAL CALLED MEETING
DECEMBER 21, 2007 5:00 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry

II. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

III. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

IV. EXECUTIVE SESSION-PENDING AND POTENTIAL LITIGATION PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

V. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

1. Awarding of Fire Station Bids
2. Awarding of Auditor Bid

VI. ADJOURNMENT

Update 12.21.07: This meeting was very short. Present: Roosevelt Willis, Parrish Swift, Steve Fry, Jake Garner, Nancy Cook, Rob Morton, and Tom Morton. The agenda was amended to remove the Awarding of the Auditor Bid. Apparently CM Steve Marro placed that item on the agenda.

Commissioners were in Executive Session for a short period of time and came out to make two motions. Motion confirming previous award bid 4-0. Motion for attorney to notify bid recipient in writing 4-0. Meeting was adjourned about 5:39 p.m. Doug Smith asked the BOC what happened here and advised the BOC that legal counsel will be in touch.

We will see how this all turns out. I am fairly confident that some procedures will be set in place to prevent this from ever happening again.

Current Auditor, Robyn Underwood, was at the meeting tonight with information about independence rules that would exhonerate her from the accusation of auditing her own work. She provided ample information for BOC members by telling what current procedures are now and gave proof of Government Accountability Office's (GOA) provided in a letter to each BOC member. She provided this information to the BOC in letter form and left the meeting before it ended because her section of the agenda had been removed. I am including some of this information here. GAO info and a weblink is listed below.

The August 15, 2005 letter written to then CM Tommy Burnsed describes the non-audit services that are provided to Pike County per instructions from a November 1, 2004 vote to put the non-audit services policy into place. Non audit services include: tracing the material reconciled bank balances to the general ledger monthly and by tracing all reconciled bank balances to the general ledger quarterly, comparing invoice amounts to the purchase orders and comparing the appropriate account numbers from the uniform chart of accounts to the account numbers designated by department heads on disbursements greater than $500. Findings were to be reported to the responsible financial personnel with the county and that county personnel--not the auditor's office--were in charge of correcting those findings. Any findings would be provided to the Accounts Payable Clerk, the Financial personnel, and the County Manager in that order. The letter goes on to state that the non-audit service "is not an examination" and that the auditor's office "is not engaged to express an opinion". GAO rules on independence standards were included with this letter and an engagement checklist was enclosed to show that independence rules were followed.

The auditor's bid might be on the January agenda. We'll have to wait until then to see how this turns out.

Update 1.9.08: I thought this might be revisited for discussion purposes in the January meeting but it was not on the agenda for today's meeting and the audit is ongoing. Three days this week and two days next week. It will cost us a LOT more than just the bid amount by the time it is done. Our county government is going to appreciate Robyn Underwood and the job that she did probably REAL shortly. Of course the citizens are going to be nickel and dimed to death for the next couple of years.

It is too bad that the audit had to turn out like this. Asking questions--and, in this case, allowing people to defend themselves when accused of wrongdoing--would have gone a long way toward my property tax bill for next year. As it is, we still have to do some cutting on the budget for the $1 million overage and we will have to hope that money comes in bigger than we expected to cover the rest. Our budget will have to be substantially less next year.

12.19.07
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December 14, 2007 Special Called Meeting Board of Commissioners

ZEBULON, GA- 2:00 p.m. - I mentioned this in my writeup about the Board of Commissioners. I'll go and hear who gets to build the fire departments and let the public know. I doubt many people will be there today. Hopefully the BOC will schedule future Special Called Meetings at a time that is convenient for a number of the public as well the BOC.

5:30 p.m. - Here is short rundown of the meeting. There were not many people there at the meeting because of the time that it was scheduled, but I am trying to give the BOC the benefit of the doubt because they could not meet in the BOC Room because of a scheduled Board of Equalization meeting at 9 a.m. this morning. Many of our Fire Dept personnel were there to see who would be awarded the Fire Dept bid. The meeting was not overly long and for that, I was grateful. Agenda was amended to include pending and potential litigation.

McLeRoy got the bid for all 3 fire stations because it was the low bid. Here are the bids from Wednesday: McLeRoy $557,000. D&M $536,906. Both McLeRoy and D&M are from Pike County. Hulon Construction out of Griffin $550,300. Today's bids: McLeRoy $525,000. D&M $526,994. Hulon $543,900. Considerable discussion about how this process was handled. What it comes down to is that government contracts are done this way in order to save taxpayer dollars. My only problem with this process was that the bids were not sealed and opened at the meeting. All of the bids came directly to the CM and I think this was done in the interest of keeping the meeting short, but I would not like to see it done this way again just because we need to do everything without the appearance of impropriety. 4-1 approved with Willis opposed.

12.17.07: The more I look at this, the more I really don't like it. Negotiations may be the way that state governmental contracts are done, but there's not a lot about big government that I approve of either. I'm not sure that we should do this just because we can. I'm looking into it is all that I will say right now.

Discussion about Robyn Underwood auditing her own work throughout the year and that she has audited 3 authorities already and cannot perform the yearly audit for next year. New State contract rules do not allow this. One of the employees went to a class where this was discussed specifically during Gasby training as not allowed. This was addressed over a year ago with a letter from Robyn saying that she could do this, but the State says no so now we are stuck with two extremely high bids and only $30,000 in the budget to pay for it. The rest will have to come out of contingency. Clifton, Lipford, Hardison, and Parker LLC was awarded the bid with a 3 year total for $109,000. There is no time to rebid this because the audit has to be completed by April 30th or there is a $10,000 penalty from the State. A rebid would push this back another 45 days. 5-0 approved.

12.17.07: I have done a bit of digging on this topic of independence and include a couple of links for the public to peruse. Governmental Auditing Standards define the word "independence" and give a general guideline of what can and cannot be done by the yearly auditor. GAO Issues New "Yellow Book" Independence Rules. As I understand it, Robyn provided a review service for the county at the county's request, but this consists of work that she would have looked at during the final review anyway and did not consist of the actual book work that the previous auditors used to perform. The previous auditors did financial statements, posted entries, etc. Here is a link that is provided on the above Independence Rules page. GAO Independence.

I have talked to people on both sides of the fence on this one who feel very strongly about their side of the argument. I understand this better than I did a couple of days ago and don't know that we made the right decision on this. I know it's easy to play armchair quarterback, but I would like to be sure that we know the rules and make the most educated decision possible in the future. This is a lot of taxpayer dollars that we're talking about. Please review the info above and send an email to the editor with your opinion if you think I'm wrong.

Update 12.18.07: From Government Auditing Standards Chapter 3 (which explains exactly what impairs independence and what does not):

Nonaudit Services That Do Not Impair Auditor Independence

3.26 Nonaudit services in which auditors provide technical advice based on their technical knowledge and expertise do not impair auditor independence with respect to entities they audit and do not require the audit organization to apply the supplemental safeguards. However, auditor independence would be impaired if the extent or nature of the advice resulted in the auditors' making management decisions or performing management functions.

3.27 Examples of the types of services considered as providing technical advice include the following:

a. participating in activities such as commissions, committees, task forces, panels, and focus groups as an expert in a purely advisory, nonvoting capacity to

(1) advise entity management on issues based on the auditors' knowledge or

(2) address urgent problems;

b. providing tools and methodologies, such as guidance and good business practices, benchmarking studies, and internal control assessment methodologies that can be used by management; and

c. providing targeted and limited technical advice to the audited entity and management to assist them in activities such as (1) answering technical questions or providing training, (2) implementing audit recommendations, (3) implementing internal controls, and (4) providing information on good business practices.



Nonaudit Services That Would Not Impair Independence if Supplemental Safeguards Are Implemented

3.28 Services that do not impair the audit organization's independence with respect to the entities they audit so long as they comply with supplemental safeguards include the following:

a. providing basic accounting assistance limited to services such as preparing draft financial statements that are based on management's chart of accounts and trial balance and any adjusting, correcting, and closing entries that have been approved by management; preparing draft notes to the financial statements based on information determined and approved by management; preparing a trial balance based on management's chart of accounts; maintaining depreciation schedules for which management has determined the method of depreciation, rate of depreciation, and salvage value of the asset (If the audit organization has prepared draft financial statements and notes and performed the financial statement audit, the auditor should obtain documentation from management in which management acknowledges the audit organization's role in preparing the financial statements and related notes and management's review, approval, and responsibility for the financial statements and related notes in the management representation letter. The management representation letter that is obtained as part of the audit may be used for this type of documentation.);

b. providing payroll services when payroll is not material to the subject matter of the audit or to the audit objectives. Such services are limited to using records and data that have been approved by entity management;

c. providing appraisal or valuation services limited to services such as reviewing the work of the entity or a specialist employed by the entity where the entity or specialist provides the primary evidence for the balances recorded in financial statements or other information that will be audited; valuing an entity's pension, other post-employment benefits, or similar liabilities provided management has determined and taken responsibility for all significant assumptions and data;

d. preparing an entity's indirect cost proposal30 or cost allocation plan provided that the amounts are not material to the financial statements and management assumes responsibility for all significant assumptions and data;

e. providing advisory services on information technology limited to services such as advising on system design, system installation, and system security if management, in addition to the safeguards in paragraph 3.30, acknowledges responsibility for the design, installation, and internal control over the entity's system and does not rely on the auditors' work as the primary basis for determining (1) whether to implement a new system, (2) the adequacy of the new system design, (3) the adequacy of major design changes to an existing system, and (4) the adequacy of the system to comply with regulatory or other requirements;

f. providing human resource services to assist management in its evaluation of potential candidates when the services are limited to activities such as serving on an evaluation panel of at least three individuals to review applications or interviewing candidates to provide input to management in arriving at a listing of best qualified applicants to be provided to management; and

g. preparing routine tax filings based on information provided by the audited entity .

Nonaudit Services That Impair Independence

3.29 Compliance with supplemental safeguards will not overcome independence impairments in this category. By their nature, certain nonaudit services directly support the entity's operations and impair the audit organization's ability to meet either or both of the overarching independence principles in paragraph 3.22 for certain types of audit work. Examples of the types of services under this category include the following:

a. maintaining or preparing the audited entity's basic accounting records or maintaining or taking responsibility for basic financial or other records that the audit organization will audit;

b. posting transactions (whether coded or not coded) to the entity's financial records or to other records that subsequently provide input to the entity's financial records ;

c. determining account balances or determining capitalization criteria;

d. designing, developing, installing, or operating the entity's accounting system or other information systems that are material or significant to the subject matter of the audit;

e. providing payroll services that (1) are material to the subject matter of the audit or the audit objectives, and/or (2) involve making management decisions;

f. providing appraisal or valuation services that exceed the scope described in paragraph 3.28 c;

g. recommending a single individual for a specific position that is key to the entity or program under audit, otherwise ranking or influencing management's selection of the candidate, or conducting an executive search or a recruiting program for the audited entity;

h. developing an entity's performance measurement system when that system is material or significant to the subject matter of the audit;

i . developing an entity's policies, procedures, and internal controls;

j. performing management's assessment of internal controls when those controls are significant to the subject matter of the audit;

k. providing services that are intended to be used as management's primary basis for making decisions that are significant to the subject matter under audit;

l. carrying out internal audit functions, when performed by external auditors; and

m. serving as voting members of an entity's management committee or board of directors, making policy decisions that affect future direction and operation of an entity's programs, supervising entity employees, developing programmatic policy, authorizing an entity's transactions, or maintaining custody of an entity's assets.31

Quality Control and Assurance

3.50 Each audit organization performing audits or attestation engagements in accordance with GAGAS must:

a. establish a system of quality control that is designed to provide the audit organization with reasonable assurance that the organization and its personnel comply with professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and

b. have an external peer review at least once every 3 years.35

My opinion is based on reading the notes above as well as the footnotes included from this section and extensive questions about how our finances are handled in this county. I don't think Robyn did anything that would have impaired her independence specifically based on 3:28(c) above. Even auditing authorities would be allowed as a component units based on information that I've seen.

I will say in defense of CM Steve Marro that he provided information to the Board of Commissioners upon which they based their decision and unless he knew where to look or knew the buzzwords to check on the Internet, the search for an answer to the question of independence might be a hard one to find an answer to. I don't know that I would have found everything so quickly if I had not asked for help in looking for it.

I understand that an external peer review was done in 2004 and a copy given to the county along with the proposal for doing the next year's audit. Do we have this information on hand and was it requested for this contract since Robyn has been doing our audits for the past 3 years? So much knowledge is lost with the constant turnover of personnel that Pike County has been undergoing for the past 10 years and it is easy to overlook something if it was not filed the way that the current secretary files information or we don't know what to look for from the past.

Some have argued that Robyn was basically auditing her own work during the year if she was looking at monthly and quarterly work, but if the work has to be completely done at the end of the year--even the parts that she examined during the year--I'm not sure that it matters. Robyn had a contract to do what she was doing. At the time, we needed it. Maybe we need to re-examine that policy and make changes accordingly because we have come a long way from bills hidden in drawers and the state quarterly taxes not being paid.

And I will say that I trust that anyone working with the county would do their job to the best of their ability unless I see evidence to the contrary. And there needs to be checks and balances to make sure that my trust is rightly placed in anyone who works for the county. At some point, we have to trust that people have done what they were hired to do and check to be sure.

It is safe to say that I have completely changed my opinion on this matter since digging into it yesterday. At the very least, I would like to see the County ask more questions about a matter such as this before making a decision even if it postpones the final decision for a meeting. The way this was done just didn't set well with me and I would not like to see anyone else treated like this.

Of course, a lot of good it does us to know this when we've already locked into a 3 year contract for an exhorbitant amount of money, but for what it's worth, this is my opinion of the matter. I'm still digging into this including past correspondance on the matter. Even based on this information, the BOC might still vote the way that they did on Friday, but it's a shame they could not have seen this information before the vote.

The employee holiday schedule for 2008 will include Christmas Day and the entire day after Christmas. A complete schedule is in the Personnel Manual. 5-0 vote.

Executive session from 3:35 until 4:06 p.m. After executive session, the agenda was amended again to include Personnel: the County Manager and Personel: Dept of Planning and Development. Discussion with the audience included the legalities of amending the agenda after Executive Session to include items already discussed. Citizen Carol Bass told the BOC that "it didn't set well" with her. Attorney Rob Morton advised that if there was reasonable anticipation, it needed to be advertised. This came up as Executive Session was ongoing and was legal was the general gist of the discussion. Motion to adjourn 4:10 p.m.

12.14.07
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AGENDA
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
December 12, 2007
9:00 AM

ZEBULON, GA - Commmissioners Roosevelt Willis, Parrish Swift, Tommy Powers, and Chairman Steve Fry were in attendance. CM Steve Marro, Secretary Nancy Cook, and both Rob and Tom Morton were in the meeting today. CM advised the Commissioner Jake Garner had a mandatory work meeting that he had to attend. There was no executive session today.

The report is in about the timber cutting adjacent to Rec Authority land. There is only about $23,000 worth of timber there and not enough income to justify selective cut. It was never going to be a clear cutting. There are a couple of other piece of land that were being looked at, but no access to at least one of the pieces of land.

Comments were made about KPB and their meetings being held somewhat sporatically. The CM advised that he was invited to a recent meeting, but he could not attend. Said that they have a new Chair now and thinks KPB will have more regular meetings. It was also mentioned that the BOC is having trouble getting minutes and financials from KPB.

The City of Zebulon advised the BOC that it is looking to annex some land next to the business park. This will be discussed in public hearings in January. The BOC will have to act within 30 days if it wants to challenge this annexation.

The county is working on year end items now. Actual expenditures through October 31st are in but receivables stays open for 45 days to ensure that all expenditures are credited to the right year. There are 2 and maybe a 3rd Dept that are overbudget. Rec Dept and Superior Court are over budget, but--this would be a Note from the Editor--we have been working from a 10 month budget all year so it's not a shock to have some depts overbudget. There will be more on this at the next meeting. There was $406,000 in unexpected revenue from local option sales tax, etc. (I wonder how closely this mirrors the original budget that past CM Tommy Burnsed presented.

There will be Christmas Luncheon for employees. Complaints at Buchanan Road have been addressed. There will be a final meeting to ensure that the matters have been taken care of. Chamblee case is finally dismissed. It only took 10 years. The BOC had to pay $10,000 to ACCG, our insurance carrier, on Jail case where jailer was convicted of criminal wrongdoing. All of the BOC members haven't turned in their paperwork to determine CM's 6 month score. Next meeting.

Quick rundown of the rest of the meeting. 2nd reading of Anti-Fraud policy postponed until January meeting. Possibility of staffing animal shelter with inmates from the prison as well as Sheriff's Office training first full-time fire station in the county from inmate labor. More work on much needed personnel policy. Workshop to be scheduled ASAP on the Flat Shoals boatramp. CM thought BOC was going to issue a decision rather than do a workshop. Fire station bid was not awarded. Currently looking at a SCM on Friday at 3 p.m. Needs analysis bid went to Precision Planning. Rebirth of Employee of the Quarter program. 3 Sealed auditor bids were accepted. Tom Tyree was appointed Fire Chief. Mike Singleton was appointed EMA Director. Beer and wine licenses were granted. 1st reading on Litter Ordinance. Tommy Burnsed reappointed to Water and Sewer Authority. Discussion of Board of Code Enforcement to have a Board of peers to review Code Enforcement tickets and relieve possible backlog from Magistrate Court. Needs more looking into. Need separate public hearings on Short Term Work Program in order to keep Local Qualified Government Status. Holiday schedule is what is listed in the Personnel Policy. Modification of plat between Hammerhead and Pike Feed and Seed so 4 acres. Exit at 12:17 p.m.

VII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A. County Manager six (6) month performance review
B. Second Reading of the Pike County Anti Fraud Policy
C. Agreement between the Pike County Board of Commissioners and
the West Central Probation Detention Center.
D. Review new Personnel Policy & recommended changes
E. Flat Shoals River access decision
F. Award of Fire Station bids
G. Award of Needs Analysis bid
H. 2006 S.P.L.O.S.T. resolution
I. Pike County Employee of the Quarter program

VIII. NEW BUSINESS

A. Opening of Sealed Auditor Bids
B. Fire Chief recommendation from County Manager
C. EMA Director recommendation from County Manager
D. Applications for 2008 Beer & Wine Licenses
1. Ferguson’s Grocery
2. C-Stores, Inc.
3. The Rock Store (new owner)
4. Turners Grocery

E. First Reading of Pike County Litter Ordinance
F. Appointment of one member to the Water Authority
G. Discussion of creating a Board of Code Enforcement
H. Request the BOC review and approve the Resolution adopting the
Annual Capital Improvements update and the STWP program update.
I. Approval of the 2008 Holiday Schedule
J. Minor revision of the Mills Commons subdivision, specifically Lots 6 and 8.

IX. PUBLIC COMMENT-None

X. ADJOURNMENT

12.11.07
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BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
AGENDA
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
November 27, 2007
6:30 PM

This meeting was interesting to say the least. Sometimes I just have to shake my head as I sit in the audience because I am too shocked to even speak. I'll just walk readers through the meeting and let you decide if I'm offbase or not. Feel free to send me an email with your opinion.

The agenda was amended to include Executive Session. I was suprised that it was not included on this agenda to begin with but figured that we might have gotten lucky and didn't need to discuss anything. Oh well, it wasn't too terribly long and I was home before 10:30 p.m. so who am I to complain?! All 5 commissioners were there along with Nancy Cook to take the minutes, the CM Steve Marro, and attorney Rob Morton.

Public Hearing for SE 07-08: Jerry Colwell has applied for a Special Exception in C-3 for the purposed use of a special trades contractor and a Special Exception for an accessory structure. The property is located at the southwest corner of Pike County Industrial Park Drive and U.S. Hwy. 19 in Land Lots 230, 231 and 251 of the 8th District of Pike County. Said property contains 4.0 acres is identified as Lot 1 of the Mill Commons also known as Tax Map 68-101. Steve Reeves spoke in support of this and no one spoke against it. This is next to the Industrial Park outside of Zebulon beside Johnson Battery. The Board of Appeals recommended approval of this to the BOC. There will be an office building with a building in the back to house the equipment with appropriate buffers. Approval 5-0.

Monthly reports were accepted 5-0. The County Manager (CM) report was an eye opener for me. Pike County is actually planning for the future right now. It was good to hear. Discussion about holding a Strategic Planning Session with a facilitator much like the one that was held by the IDA a couple of years ago down at Calloway Gardens. The results would enable the CM to plan the budget for next year, 3 years from now and 5 years from now. This would require 4 or 5 workshops since this is the first time. It will cost much less when we do this from now on. The cost was discussed as well, but the BOC gave the go ahead for the CM to check into this some more with a 5-0 vote.

There is a possibility of Special Fire Taxing Districts that could be used to support our e-911, EMA, and Fire Departments. The initial cost in the unincorporated areas could be as little as $25 per parcel. Of course the County would have to negotiate with the cities for fire districts in their areas. This would provide funding for our emergency services and possibly lower our ad valorem taxes. It has been discussed before in Pike County and was stated that as a general rule, people don't mind paying for this because they know where the money is going to be spent... especially if this funding portion of the ad valorem taxes is reduced or eliminated. Some of these taxing districts have even had a cap so that when the fund hits a certain amount, it is discontinued until the money is spent down to a certain level before being brought back. The CM said that the BOC will hear more about this probably around February.

The public comment about Arthur Road was moved to the CM part of the agenda because Harry McDevitt could not attend. Harry wants to scrape the road in front of his house down to the red clay in an attempt to curb the dust. The Public Works Director Todd Goolsby says that the road needs some attention, but that it should not be done this way because it will cause more problems. The CM and BOC stood by his judgement. The Road Dept is looking into chip sealing some of our roads after April of next year when it warms up.

Commissioner Willis asked about code enforcement in the Hilltop district. Was advised that it is ongoing. Commissioner Swift asked about the Grisham complaint. This ongoing dispute has been addressed. The County Attorney requested that the workshop on Flat Shoals be set up ASAP and asked for a workshop to discuss Planned Residential Developments and Animal Control.

Second Reading of the State Prescribed Burning Resolution was approved 5-0. More about this is in my writeup from the past meeting on November 14th.

This brings us to the appointment to the Planning Commission. Brent Taylor, John Morrison, and then-current member Margie Trammell put ther hats in the ring for this job. Brent Taylor had sent out an email at one point saying that she did not want to serve on any county boards anymore, but she advised Nancy Cook that she still wanted to serve on this board. Commissioner Tommy Powers made the motion to re-appoint Margie Trammell. It died for lack of a 2nd. Commissioner Roosevelt Willis then made the motion to appoint John Morrison. John was appointed to the Planning Commission with a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Tommy Powers and Jake Garner in opposition. [Note from the Editor: I wrote quite a bit about this in my last meeting write up. I stand by my comments even now. When someone is willing to spend hours of their time in service to the county on a committee and still wants to serve, they should be appointed unless there is a darn good reason not to reappoint them. Commissioner Parrish Swift made the motion to appoint Margie at the 11.14.07 meeting and it died for lack of 2nd. Scroll down to the writeup from the 11.14.07 meeting for more info. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I was speechless as I sat in the meeting. I would think that the BOC would support a citizen who spent hours of her time researching matters, asking hard questions even if it did not make her popular with some of the public or maybe even some on the Planning Commission, and trying to work for the good of the entire county--including attempts to make sure that we were consistent in Planning Commission and BOC votes. That is common sense to me, but a majority of the BOC did not agree.]

Pike Countryside Sanitation was awarded the Transfer Station bid in a 5-0 vote. The Transfer Station will be privatized beginning on January 1st. The difference of $67 per ton compared to Viola's (formerly Allied Waste out of Thomaston) bid of $167 per ton weighed in on this decision. The CM recommended PCS as the "best bang for taxpayer's buck". There was discussion about whether Keep Pike Beautiful owned the Recycling Building or the county owned it. Commissioner Willis asked Keep Pike Beautiful Chairman Edd Sanders whether they owned the building or not and Mr. Sanders advised that they did not.

Lengthy discussion on the awarding of the bids on the Public Works garage and the fire stations. The CM brought forth the 4 lowest bids and discussion commenced about who to award to. Our Fiscal policy allows bidders in Pike County to be given the option to match a competitor's bid if their original bid is within 5% of the low bid. Both D&M and McLeroy have agreed to do this. The discussion on the past SPLOST was heated and whether we will have enough money for 4 turnkey fire stations or not. Discussion with members of the audience about what the public voted for and that if the fire engines ran over the amount allotted to them in the SPLOST, that extra amount needed to come from somewhere else. The county attorney advised that the SPLOST Referendum has to be followed in how funds are spent. CM to follow up on whether the 2 tankers can be paid for on a debt service with accumulation of Impact Fees. Motion to accept CM recommendations that the Public Works garage and 1 fire station be awarded to McLeRoy if they will match Hughlon's bid of $124,500. Motion to postpone other fire station awards until CM can negotiate with contractors on fire station. 4-1 with Commissioner Parrish Swift opposed. There will be a Special Called Meeting to address this so work can begin ASAP.

Riverview Lease sent a letter to all counties in the State of Georgia asking for refunds. There are several stories that have been given to us and to neighboring counties. Bottom line is that they had 21 days to appeal their tax bill in 2005. They didn't. No refund. Motion to deny 5-0.

Attorney Rob Morton is working on a document that will differentiate between an ordinance and a resolution. An ordinance is making a law in our county and will require public notice and 2 readings in public meetings. A resolution is temporary or is a statement of support for something and will only require 1 reading. Motion to consider this the first reading 5-0.

Some of the large items that were voted on (and I will continue to write about as I go down the list of the meeting) are:

The Department of Planning and Development has a new Dept Head and flow chart. It is Dawn Dickerson who was hired as a Planner for Pike County. The Dept of P and D has Kim Morris as the Administrative Assistant under Dawn Dickerson. IT/IGS (does digitized mapping and computer stuff for the county) headed by Kyle Gooden is one of three depts under Dept of P and D. Zoning Dept will be headed by Dawn Dickerson. And Enforcement and Permitting will be headed by Wendell Becker. The Code Enforcement Officer (newly hired) and Inspectors are under Wendell. Click here for flowchart if you have DSL. (If you don't have DSL, don't bother. I haven't been able to upload a PDF file from home so I'll try something different. Imagine running a website with no DSL... I can't get it and I'm only 4 miles outside of downtown Zebulon.)

New Flow Chart for Public Works too. Transfer Station will be privatized as of January 1st so it will no longer have Pike County employees. One will go back to the Road Dept. There are 4 employees at the Transfer Station.

EMS Council Representative is Darrell Riggins. He is appointed to take Troop Sutherland's (resigned) place on this committee which represents Pike to Dept of Human Resources.

Pike County Anti-Fraud Policy was presented. It says that anyone who defrauds Pike County will go to jail.

Town Hall Meeting was interesting. Night meetings always are because it is a chance for the public to be heard by the BOC. I don't have time to go into this tonight but there is always a chance to catch up our meetings by listening to Fun 101 out of Thomaston.

More later.

11.29.07
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AGENDA
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
November 14, 2007
9:00 AM

Today's meeting was interesting to say the least. Present: All 5 commissioners, attorneys Rob and Tom Morton, Secretary Nancy Cook. We opened with the Pledge of Allegiance as we normally do and then took a few moments to pray for rain with Gov. Sonny Perdue.

SUB 07-04 THE LACY INVESTMENT CORPORATION, has requested subdivision of 6.97 acres into 7 tracts of no less than 10,000 s.f. lots. The property is located on Highway 19 North in Land Lot 104 of the 2nd District of Pike County and found on Tax Map 74-95 (preliminary Plat-Hamilton Square). Preliminary plat approval for Hamilton Square was approved 5-0. Planning Commission (PC) recommended a buffer zone around lot #7.

SUB 07-06 THOMAS B. CHANDLER has requested subdivision of 89.74 acres into 10 tracts of no less than 4.59 acres of land. The property has frontage on Kings Bridge Road and Huff Creek Road in Land Lots 148, 149, and 172 of the 1st District of Pike County and identified as Tax Map 24-12 (Preliminary plat-Huff Creek Farms). Preliminary plat approval was approved with stipulation that barn is not encroaching on the county right of way 3-2. Jake Garner and Roosevelt Willis opposing. This was a lively discussion because about 10 feet of the existing barn for the surrounding hay fields is on the right of way. They may be able to apply for a variance on this. Some wanted it to stay and some to go because potential hazard to motorists.

Proposed text amendments to the Pike County Code Chapter 156. The proposals will consider amendments to Sections 156.150, 156.151 156.152, 156.153, 156.154 and 156.155, more specifically, the permitted uses and development standards within the P-R Planned Development-Residential zoning district. This is about the Townhomes and has been a topic of controversy in the past but it seemed pretty clear that changes need to be made on this. 156.150(E) was passed on November 8, 2000 and said that no new applications for Planned Development Residential Use would be accepted in Pike County. What that amounts to is an open-ended moratorium and may not be defensible in court.

Townhouse developments in this first reading would allow 10 units per acre with the same for apartment/condo units. It may be more dense where controlled sewage and water is provided but may not be greater than the densities provided above. The BOC asked a lot of questions about the PC and their decisions on this, why there were changes to wording, and talked a lot about manufactured homes. The PC decided to take all single family housing units--stick built and manufactured homes--out of this part of the code and have this be just for multi-family use.

This was tabled until the end of the meeting where the first reading was accepted with the understanding that it is not binding until the second reading is accepted. The BOC wants a workshop on this so they can discuss it in detail. If it does not get approval as a second reading, it dies. It was approved as a first reading after executive session with a 3-1 vote. Jake Garner opposing.

2nd Reading of Pike County Financial Policy was approved 4-0. (Tommy Powers had to leave about 10:50 am) The BOC will discuss meal and BOC per/day rembursement schedules when the CM is at the meeting. Steve Marro could not attend the meeting today. Mid GA Ambulance has had 837 responses so far this year with 591 transports which is about 71%. They are giving a monthly report which keeps the BOC apprised of their calls and transports. I like to know that county money is being used wisely. (Throwing in a training course here and there and a Medical Explorer Post is great for us too! Thanks Mid GA!)

The Planning Commission was supposed to have one appointment made at the meeting today. Brent Taylor, John Morrison, and current PC member Margie Trammell put in applications for this 3 year appointment. There as quite a bit of discussion on this matter including whether the current member would serve until an appointment was made. Parrish Swift said that unless there was a good reason not to reappoint, he thought that the person should be reappointed to their position. He made the motion to reappoint Margie Trammell and it died for lack of a second. And then Roosevelt and Jake neither one made a motion to appoint anyone so the Chairman moved on down to the next item advising Margie--who had been sitting in the audience discussing the text amendment changes and answering BOC questions during the beginning of the meeting--that she would serve until an appointment was made.

[Note from the Editor: I can't help but shake my head at this. It's no secret that I like Margie--though we have butted heads a few times for those who haven't witnessed it--and I think she has done a good job on her board as well as the job that she is doing leading the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances. I see no reason why anyone else should go into that position if she still wants it based on the countless hours that she puts in on this board. There was no reason that Roosevelt and Jake should have had a problem making up their minds before this meeting either. They knew it was on there and they are sitting on the board to make tough decisions. It can't be readvertised to get more applications to try and get anyone else in there and there is no reason to put it off again. Margie isn't "owned" by any particular rule of thought in the county except to listen to both sides of an issue, ask really hard questions, and then make up her mind. I'm very disappointed that the BOC as a whole was not able to come to a consensus on this matter and hope that they do better at the next meeting. Committees should not have to wait for extended decisions by the BOC on their committee members.]

Lou Ann Fowler was appointed to the Library Board.

The stack of bids to open for both the new fire station(s) and the Public Works building were very impressive. The bids were just opened today in the open meeting and read to the public. The CM will review the bids and give a rundown of everything at the next meeting where the BOC will vote on which bids to accept. There were 17 bids for the fire stations. There were 4 different ways to bid from 3 shells with slab and plumbing, doors, etc. to 3 completed and then 1 shell with slab and plumbing, doors, etc. to 1 completed. Bids came from Georgia and one from Florida with bids all over the spectrum. I'll let the CM compare apples to apples and report on that when the next meeting comes around. There were 18 bids on the Public Works building with two different proposals. Again, I will let the CM compare apples to apples and report on this after the next meeting. [Note from the Editor: This was the most bids that I have ever seen on a project in county government. Very well done to those who had a hand in putting this out to bid.] Motion to accept bids was one at a time. Approved on both.

Farm City Proclamation - Read a proclamation in support of National Farm City Week. Motion to consider this with signature. 4-0

Request money left over from old SPLOST to be placed in general fund. This is a formality since the money has been spent according to the referendum, then balance used to pay off existing debt, and now any leftovers will be moved into the general account per State law. Approved 4-0.

Doug Rounds requested reimbursement of a CUVA penalty. Apology was given to Mr. Rounds by the Tax Assessor's Office that the BOC was not the proper venue to hear his complaint. He has to go before the Board of Equalization and if doesn't like answer there, then to the Superior Court.

First reading of the State Prescribed Burning Resolution. It sounds to me like something in support of prescribed burning in Pike County to prevent wildfires from excess undergrowth. Nothing about burn bans in it. Any outdoor burning requires citizens and businesses to contact our local Georgia Forestry Commission office for a permit at 770-227-5522 or 770-229-3005. Motion to accept 1st reading. 4-0 Approved.

Executive Session 12:04 p.m. Return to Open Session 12:40 p.m. Only motion made after Executive Session is described above with the approval of the 1st reading of the Text Amendment changes.

11.14.07
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Pike County Drought Response

Date: November 2, 2007
To: ALL Pike County Department Heads
Re: Pike County Drought Response

On October 20, 2007, Governor Sonny Purdue issued an Executive Order addressing the on-going drought situation in the State of Georgia. The Governor has identified a list of 84 Georgia counties that need to pay extremely close attention to the situation and begin measures to assist the State overall in administering our water supplies for future generations. State government is taking a very proactive and enforceable role in this endeavor. They have requested the affected area governments to do the same. These orders pertain to water systems only at this time.

Therefore, Pike County government is imposing a “no washing of county owned vehicles” policy effective immediately. Should an employee desire to clean a vehicle, they must secure water from a source other than those that are affected by this order. In furtherance of this extreme situation, we are also ceasing watering of all Pike County lawns! This affects the Court House lawn also.

I am asking the residents of Pike County to address the situation at their own homes or places of businesses by taking preventative actions. Guidance and guidelines as to how you may be able to assist in the drought can be reviewed at the Georgia Environmental Protection Agencies web site: www.georgiaepd.com . If you do not have access to a computer at home you can call the EPD at (404) 656-4713 and ask for assistance with your questions pertaining to the Georgia Drought Management plan.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division Chapter 391-3-30 pertaining to Outdoor Water Use can also be acquired from this web site or telephone number. In that Rule you will find that Pike County, as a Level 2 Drought Response Level, has specific watering rules that allow for watering only between 12:00 midnight and 10:00 am. You can only water during that period of time based on the odd/even numbering of your home. If your home has an even number listed, you can water from midnight to 10:00 am on Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays. This includes golf course fairways. If your home is numbered with an odd number you can only water from midnight to 10:00 am on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays. There is no scheduled watering for Fridays!

Prohibited uses include; (1) using hydrants for any purpose other than firefighting, public health safety or flushing. (2) washing hard surfaces such streets, gutters, sidewalks and driveways except when necessary for public health and/or safety.

Please help us conserve Georgia’s water supply by using what we have left in a responsible manner. Thank you very much for your assistance in this trying time.

Stephen A. Marro, County Manager

11.2.07
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Solid Waste Transportation, Recycling, and Disposal Program Bids Opened

At a special called meeting on November 1, 2007, the Board of Commissioners opened the sealed bids for a Solid Waste Transportation, Recycling, and Disposal Program in Pike County that will begin on January 1, 2008. CM Steve Marro advised that 6 packages were sent to area vendors and the advertisement to bid was also placed online at ACCG.

Two bids were opened along with a letter of decline to bid at this time. Advanced Disposal Systems out of Hiram declined to bid. Pike Countyside Sanitation and Veolia Environmental Services of Thomaston (formery Allied Waste) being the only two bidders. A variety of options with varying prices were presented in the bids which ranged from $49 to $136.86 per ton.

There will be two informal question and answer sessions on Thursday, November 8th, to discuss the bids in detail with each company. The first will be at 9 a.m. and the second at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

A decision will be made on Solid Waste Transportation, Recycling, and Disposal Program bids at the regular scheduled morning meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, November 14th at 9 a.m.

11.2.07
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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
OCTOBER 30, 2007
6:30 PM

I'll hit the high points on this since I'm in the process of updating the website. A note of thanks to the Company that received the striping contract before I start. New Hope Road is marked as a No Thru Truck Route. Thank you. The replacement of signs on these roads are a welcome sight too. It is nice to drive on the roads that have received new stripes and see where we are driving now especially at night or when it is raining.

2nd reading of the Personnel Policy. Thanks to Rob Morton for going over the document with the BOC and reviewing all of the changes. It was time-consuming but necessary.

Ms. Ricky Maveety sent a package to the Commissioners outlining her intentions here in the county. (Note from the Editor: Her letter to the editor is on the website. Click the link on the navigation bar above.) The CM would rather see private enterprise taking on this duty for animal control. Her intentions for a No Kill Shelter/ Pet Hotel sound great, but it will serve a small number of animals compared to the number that needs to be taken off of our streets.

Citizen Don Bailey made a report before the BOC. Don advised that Upson County has taken in about 3,100 animals this year so far (and they have had an animal shelter 10 years already). Ms. Maveety's shelter will help but it won't take care of the problem. Said that there were 100 rabies vaccinations in Upson on Saturday and 300 here at the 4-H Rabies Clinic. Need a workshop on this. Time to stop pending and get something done.

The BOC gave a motion of intent to support a county animal shelter with the donation of a piece of county property as long as the BOC hears Ms. Maveety's side too. 4-0 appoved. Don Bailey gave a disk with an animal control ordinance to the CM. Our county attorneys wrote the ordinance for Meriwether County so this shouldn't be such a hard task. The last Thursday of the month will be the regular Animal Control Meeting at 7 p.m. at the library. Don will send out information shortly. No problems that we can't solve together, he said.

Update 11.8.07: McNair has 1 acre as an office on Hwy 19 north of Zebulon where the Commercial Overlay District has been in the process for over a year. He has an application to rezone the property to M2-A. The Planning Commission gave a recommendation that the property be rezoned to C-2 with the stipulation that no heavy equipment is parked there. Heavy equipment is allowed in M2-A but this is in the commercial district so there is a great reluctance for Manufacturing Zoning to be allowed. Cox Timber is M Zoned, but it was grandfathered in because it was previously existing.

Several spoke for and against this measure. Planning Commission (PC)member Margie Trammell stated that the PC voted in favor of C Zoning so as not to defile the Commercial Overlay District there. PC also said needed a letter from DOT about driveway. Said that McNair could still have a business under this compromise but needs to have another place to park the equipment. Said didn't want to put McNair out of business, but obligated to go by Comp Plan. Also said supported the Commercial change after McNair provided letter from the DOT about his driveway.

Citizen Jimmy Bass said that he was opposed to rezoning to commercial until McNair followed the rules and brought in letter from DOT because some have not been required to follow the rules in the past and it has caused problems. Board of Appeals member Carol Bass said that Pike County had a really good PC and suggested that the BOC should allow the PC to do their homework and follow their suggestions so the BOC doesn't have to do so much work. Asked the BOC to trust the PC on this decision. Citizen John Sell said no other M zoning around this area and that the Commercial Overlay District was a big concern with this zoning. BOC discussion about no ability to put restrictions on M zoning and buffers to cover the equipment from view.

Motion to approve C-2 with leter from DOT about ingress/egress off of Pitts Lane as it is now and adequate buffer. It was 2nded for discussion. Motion failed because of concern over allowing without the letter from the DOT. Suggestion to table to another meeting since public hearing requirements have been satisfied. Motion to postpone until McNair comes into compliance with conditions. 4-0.


10.31.07
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Board of Commissioners to Hold Impact Fee Workshop

ZEBULON, GA - The Pike County Board of Commissioners will be holding a workshop regarding Impact Fees on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 5:00 pm in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room, 79 Jackson St., Zebulon. This workshop will be followed by the Commissioner’s Regular Night Meeting at 6:30 pm.

Update 10.31.07: Bill Ross was a no show.

10.25.07
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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
OCTOBER 10, 2007
9:00 AM

ZEBULON, GA -Today was a normal meeting running from 9 a.m. until about 12:25 p.m. Several extra faces were there in the audience today from fire department personnel to concerned citizens. It was good to see everyone there. All 5 commissioners were there as well as Nancy Cook to take minutes, County Manager (CM) Steve Marro, and Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton.

The agenda was amended to include two items for executive session. Attorney Rob Morton added Pending Litigation and Commissioner Jake Garner added Personnel in the Building and Zoning Office.

Lois McDaniel spoke on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club that will be opening in the Hilltop Community. "It will be a safe place for children to learn and grow while having fun," Lois said. It will be open after school and on the weekends. Harvey Booker spoke about using the facility for the betterment of Pike County. The Church that is renovating the property has asked for support from the community and the Board of Commissioners. Renovations in the classroom area will be completed before that of the gymnasium. [Note from the Editor: That is fairly large facility from what I remember going to school there. It is perfect for a learning environment for kids and would be a great addition for our kids in Pike County. They need $20,000 to make this a reality.] A letter will be going out to churches and businesses in our community.

Commissioner Steve Fry asked a question about CATF minutes where this committee is doing revisions to our Code of Ordinances under the direction of the staff and attorneys from Pike County. Steve was concerned that the change from Zoning Administrator to Dept of Community Development thinking that it might give implied authorization to all staff members instead of the Director of the Dept of Community Development. Counsel is looking into this and it will be addressed at the next meeting. [Note from the Editor: The BOC has shown a great interest in what we are doing. Input from the BOC into our work is most welcome.]

County Manager Report. CM handed out an request for proposal (RFP) on county waste hauling. Asked that the County Attorney and the BOC review it to be sure that everything is included that the BOC wants to be in it. Would like to have it advertised by October 15th so the contract can begin on January 1st. This was included in next year's budget. Motion to approve RFP 5-0.

The State of Georgia is going to take over cable tv on January 1, 2008. The CM handed out a cable tv proposal for the BOC regarding Rapid Communications. It is the same as before with mediation. If approved, it will be in effect until the state officially takes over cable tv. Advised that Georgia Broadband is taking over Rapid Communications who took over Charter Communications cable last year. [Note from the Editor: Rapid Communications has been a constant source of complaints from dissatisfied users in the Pike County area. From overbilling to not picking up equipment to not fixing problems over months of complaints from individual consumers, Rapid Communications is not popular in Pike County. And when Ron the Cable Guy refuses to return calls to BOC members and the CM, you know it's bad!] Pike only had a first reading of the Cable contract earlier this year. The BOC refused to have a 2nd reading because of service issues and complaints from constituents. Rapid owes Pike County revenue from working in our county.

CM was asked to bring up discussion about Sean Townsend's mileage reimbursement while he was the Interim CM. In a 3-0 vote of approval in the November 10, 2006 meeting, the BOC voted to give Int. CM Sean Townsend the same mileage reimbursement as the past CM. Commissioner Tommy Powers asked how much we are talking about total and was advised that the amount is $2,300 to $2,400. Commissioner Parrish Swift said that his biggest concern in this is that the BOC voted to reimburse at previous levels. It is contractual interpretation and said that it was a broad motion and has to be interpreted broadly. Thinks that the BOC would have a hard time disputing prior motion. Chairman Fry brought up Commissioner Roosevelt Willis' argument from a previous meeting that Townsend was the Int. CM as well as doing regular work at the BOC office and said that this is a unique position compared to previous CM's. The current CM stated that he didn't understand how the BOC could voted to reimburse mileage on August 26, 2006 at $0.35 per mile per the previous CM's contract salary with gas allotment and then ask for a reimbursement of this money. Said that he would oppose a motion to ask for reimbursement because it isn't right.

From the August 26, 2006 minutes: "Commissioner Davidson made the motion to give Mr. Sean Townsend his salary and gas allowance as Interim County Manager and that we advertise as soon as possible for a permanent County Manager and also for the Commissioners to decide the salary and qualifications for that position. A second was given by Commissioner Powers. 3-0 vote." [Note from the Editor: Commissioner Jake Garner was on the past BOC but was not present at the August 26, 2006 meeting.]

From the July 2, 2007 meeting: "Interim County Manager mileage re-imbursement. Commissioner Willis asked that this be put on the agenda. Interim County Manager had explained to Commissioner Willis after the previous meeting in which this was discussed that he was charging mileage from the time he left home until the time he returned home. Commissioner Willis thinks that this is wrong and wanted the Commissioners to discuss this. Commissioner Garner said that he wasn’t aware that this was happening, either. Chairman Fry said that Townsend was to receive the same compensation that former County Manager Burnsed had received. Burnsed was to receive either a car which he would drive home or mileage. It had been mentioned by Chairman Fry that Sean Townsend had another job here with the County and would have been making the drive anyways. Commissioner Willis requested that County Manager Marro look at former County Manager Tommy Burnsed’s contract to see what it said. Both Commissioner Willis and Commissioner Garner said that they still felt it was wrong for Townsend to receive this mileage since he was coming here anyways." After the Executive Session in the same meeting: "After Executive Session, County Manager Marro read the travel portion of former County Manager Tommy Burnsed’s contract. “Employee’s duties require that he travel within and outside the territorial boundaries of Pike County, Georgia. It is the intent of this agreement to provide additional compensation to said Employee related to Pike County Business related travel. At the option of the Employee, Employee shall elect to enjoy the exclusive and unrestricted use at all times during his employment with Employer a vehicle provided by the Employer. In the event Employee elects to receive Employer-provided vehicle, then the Employer shall be responsible for all costs of repair, fuel, maintenance, lubricants and insurance for the vehicle. In the alternative, the Employee may elect to use his personal vehicle during the term of his employment. In the event said Employee elects to use his personal vehicle, then Employer shall reimburse said Employee 35 cents (.35) per mile to reimburse said Employee the reasonable costs for repairs, fuel, maintenance, lubricants. However, said mileage reimbursement shall not cover the cost of vehicle insurance. It is agreed by both Employer and Employee that in the event said Employee elects to use his own personal vehicle during the term of this agreement, then the cost of insurance for said vehicle shall be further investigated and the Employer shall either provide insurance for said vehicle during the term of this agreement or reimburse said Employee the cost to the Employee for insurance for said vehicle during the term of this agreement, whichever may be the least cost to the Employer.” MOTION Commissioner Willis made the motion that Mr. Townsend (former Interim County Manager Sean Townsend) be responsible for repaying that mileage fee that he received. Commissioner Garner seconded the motion. 3-1-1 vote with Chairman Fry opposed and Commissioner Swift abstaining." CM mentioned paying it back $100 per pay period.

[Note from the Editor: I have stated before that asking employee Sean Townsend to reimburse this money is not right. The BOC needs to stop making votes retroactive over items that were determined in the past. If the BOC doesn't like past BOC policy, it needs to make new policy and go on with their job of taking care of county business. The public and Pike County employees demand clear leadership from the BOC. Make a policy and stick to it.]

The BOC received a bill from John Sell for Courthouse Lawn Maintenance per the Courthouse beautification project. It included a self-propelled aerator at $76 per day with a pull spike or core unit for aeration at $38 per day. Hand work would be involved with one or two people at $10 per hour. Southern Fescues, lime, fertilizer, and roundup would be the necessary materials at $1,585.00. Advised that the pecan trees would need to be fertilized in late January of 2008, that all trees, shrubs, and groundcover would need to be fertilized in late February of 2008, and that the entire lawn would need to be fertilized in May of 2008. The CM advised that there is no money in contingency for this. It was determined during the course of discussion that there is an even-odd watering ban regulation for Zebulon and that there is a total watering ban in the northern part of the state with some talk of the Governor mandating privately owned wells because these wells tap into the same watertable as the public water sources. Commission Chairman Steve Fry asked that the Garden Club look at the list and determine what needs to be done since they are helping to care for the plants around the square. [Note from the Editor: Maybe I'm in the minority, but making sure that the grass is spectacular when we are in the middle of a drought does not seem responsible to me. I would like to see the grass look nice, but aerating and planting this much grass doesn't seem like a good idea. Jonathan and others that work on the courthouse lawn are doing a good job at trying to keep up with the growth of the grass from the sporatic rains that we receive. The Garden Club does a wonderful job with the section where the road splits in town (across from the drycleaners) and parts of the area around the Courthouse. I don't know how they do as much as they do with several members two days a week, but the citizens are grateful for their help!]

Rec Dept expenses are now $119,000 over budget. Clarification that Rec Dept under the County supervision and the Rec Authority are not related in this matter. The Rec Authority got a scant $1,000 per month from the County. Rec Dept and Rec Authority audits will be held up until October 31st because it would have to be done again at that point even if it were done now per state regulations. The CM clarified that the the associations under the Authority have taken on about $20,000 of the expenses that have appeared over the past couple of months.

ACCG Press release that Pike receives $3,251 from ACCG. Separate story on that later.

District 1 - How far are we are the Litter Ordinance? Working on it. Commissioner Garner suggested sending a letter to the offending parties that are throwing items at the end of driveways because they can't put it in mailboxes. Asked about financial statements from the Fire Dept and requirement to give BOC accounting of funds. Everyone will be put on notice on Monday that there will be no more funds without financial statements. District 2 - Asked about striping on Smyrna Church Road which is not on the striping list. Possibility of swapping Smyrna Church Road for County Line Road which is on the striping contract list. Motion to swap the two. Approved 5-0. Nothing from the remaining.

Personnel Policy. Rob Morton advised that the county attorneys do not need to be part of the grievance appeals process. Motion for 1st reading. 5-0.

Chairman Steve Fry made a clarification that the county step policy does not apply to those who work under constitutional officers. The constitutional officers can opt into this step policy but cannot be forced to follow BOC recommendations with their employees.

[Note from the Editor: The following may be the reason that the agenda had to be amended. From the July 31, 2007 meeting: Discussion of road abandonment: Hebron Road, Nixon Road, Pullians Road. These roads were abandoned by not closed which means that they are passable but the county no longer maintains them. Land owners on these roads will be notified and will have recourse available to them. Mr. Jimmy Swift (no relation to Parrish) advised that they had no problem with road abandonment but will fight closure. 5-0 authorization for attorney to research abandonment. Pullians Road will be abandoned except for the stretch by Bottoms Nursery. Rob disagrees with Mr. Jimmy Swift's assessment of this matter. Said that the county will have to follow procedure on this but maintains that the roads must be taken off of the county books with the abandonment process. Several people on Hebron Church Road have told the county not to grade their road or maintain it so it would become a private road as they have requested. The county will need to clarify the legal description on the roads and maybe even have to pay a surveyor to show exactly where the county will continue to maintain the roads and where the remainder of the roads will be privately maintained. Motion for Road Dept to measure roads and also for survey if required. Approved 5-0.

approval of the motion for the Public Works Director along with the County Manager would converse with Mid-States Striping and DOT to conclude if they will contractual agree to alter that to re-stripe Smyrna Church Road rather than County Line Road

Library Board appointments: Jerry G. Robinson and Keith N. McClelland

approval of the motion to appoint Thomas M. Lacey to the Water and Sewerage Authority

approval of the motion to appoint Rex J. Yerkes and Thomas M. Lacey to the AgriBusiness Authority

approval of the motion to require applicants to put in applications for the position of EMA Director/Fire Chief and for those appointments to be done by the Board of Commissioners. It may not necessarily be a combination. It could be one in each position but for those positions to be filled only by appointment of the Board of Commissioners.

approval of the motion to refund $1837.50 portion of permit fee to Richard Evans

approval of the motion to deny the tax refund based on documentation that we have to Riverview Lease/Loan Holdings

approval of the motion to cancel the meeting scheduled for December 25, 2007

approval of the motion to exit Regular Session and enter into Executive Session at 11:42 am for the purpose of Pending Litigation and Personnel-Building & Zoning.

approval of the motion to exit Executive Session and re-enter Regular Session at 12:23 pm

approval of the motion for the restructuring of the Building and Zoning Department to become the Planning and Development Department and the Building and Zoning and GIS would come under that department head.

Update 10.16.07: From the Sunshine Laws (which can be accessed through a link on my website at the bottom of the advertising bar): "It is the public policy of Georgia that all agencies of our State should conduct business in the open and employ records that are available to every citizen. Experience has shown that openness is the best policy in government, both to help assure honest and forthright decisions by governmental officials, and to continue the perception that governmental decisions are made in the brightness of Georgia’s sunshine."

From: 50-14-3. Here are the three items that can be discussed by our Board of Commissioners in no particular order: 1) acquisition of real estate, 2) pending litigation, and 3) personnel. Personnel has been given a broad interpretation when the Sunshine Laws state that meetings can be closed ". . . when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee but not when receiving evidence or hearing argument on charges filed to determine disciplinary action or dismissal of a public officer or employee. The vote on any matter covered by this paragraph shall be taken in public and minutes of the meeting as provided in this chapter shall be made available. Meetings by an agency to discuss or take action on the filling of a vacancy in the membership of the agency itself shall at all times be open to the public as provided in this chapter. . ."

I have looked into this matter in depth in order to make sure that I don't say something that is not true on the website. I have been advised that discussing the restructuring of an entire department in Executive Session is legal by more than one source, and the BOC did announce the motion immediately after the Executive Session. However, I will state plainly that while it is legal according to what I've been told, I disagree with this decision. This doesn't pass the smell test, to steal a phrase from another individual involved in county government. I have always stated that the BOC needs to err on the side of the caution when making decisions that affect this county.

People from accross the spectrum are up in arms about this decision because it looks like the BOC is trying to hide its true intentions in this action. What are the intentions of the BOC in regard to the heads of the past Planning and Development Director and the past Building and Zoning Director? I don't know because the BOC has not made it plain what they are doing. At one point during a past BOC meeting, there was discussion of having County Planner, Dawn Dickerson, and Director of Community Development, Wendell Becker, as two separate department heads with GIS, Kyle Gooden, under Dawn Dickerson. Right now, I don't even know who the head of the new Planning and Development Department is. The BOC needs to clarify this mess ASAP.

approval of the motion to adjourn at 12:24 p.m.

More later.

10.12.07
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SPECIAL CALL MEETING
OCTOBER 2, 2007

ZEBULON, GA - The Board of Commissioners (BOC) met to advise the public that a mistake was made when calculating the net digest formula for our budget. According to one of the commissioners, this is a common mistake for new county managers--especially in small counties. The miscalculation was in the revenue side of the budget so this leaves the county with a revenue budget shortfall.

Tax bills went out to citizens a couple of weeks ago and will only collect $4,917,417.12 when our budget had forecasted $6,078,600 in revenue. That is a $1 million difference. County Manager (CM) Steve Marro advised that this is his mistake and apologized for it. It came out in the meeting that he had offered his resignation over this mistake, but the BOC did not accept it.

There are additional sources of revenue that were not expected which will help offset this cost such as LOST revenues being higher than expected for the past several months. We do have money in contingency and spending is being curbed to help with this problem.

The CM has met with Dept. heads and advised of the problem. There are also several projects that will be put off for a time to help streamline the budget. The BOC will have to send a budget amendment to the state because we are required by law to have a $0 balanced budget. Mike Stewart from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) will help with the budget amendment process. CM Steve Marro advised that this was his mistake and thanked former CM Tommy Burnsed for bringing this problem to the county's attention.

This problem was mentioned a couple of months ago by former CM Tommy Burnsed to CM Marro. Current CM Marro ran the formula that he had and it came back fine. Until Friday when Tax Commissioner Donna Wynn reviewed the tax digest figures that the problem was discovered.

Citizens were allowed to speak with a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Jake Garner voted against the motion. John Hoover asked questions on the budget process and chided those involved for not sitting down with a mediator if needed to discuss the problem before now because the problem was a couple of months old.

Margie Trammell said that she would like to see the BOC listen to the public when they say something is wrong. This is not the first time that a citizen has come forward to show the BOC where there was a problem. "These kind of problems can be avoided if y'all will just listen," she said.

Former CM Tommy Burnsed sympathized with the current CM in his job position and said that he had almost made this same mistake himself though it was caught when he asked advice from neighboring CM's to ensure that he was doing the budget correctly. Said that he was still worried about the $1 million difference. Said that we do not need to spend our excess money from this year when we close out the year and that we need to build up our surplus. He cautioned that the county could end up raising taxes by a significant amount next year to cover our costs if we spend our surplus this year.

Jimmy Bass asked if we now know if all of our finances are accounted for today. Chairman Fry expressed confidence that the BOC does though the Rec Dept is not included in that confidence. Bills are still coming in for this. A difference was stated between Rec Dept and Rec Authority. Rec Dept won't have firm numbers until end of October.

Additional possible sources of revenue also include timber on 35 acres of the ballfield, thinning land around the landfill, and the BOC is still considering contracting with other sources for waste recycling and hauling.

There was also thanks expressed by members of the public and a round of applause to the CM and the BOC for addressing the issue in a public forum.

10.4.07
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Fire Department/ Emergency Management Workshop

ZEBULON, GA - The Pike County Board of Commissioners will be holding a Fire Department workshop on Friday, September 28, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room, 79 Jackson Street, Zebulon, GA. This meeting is open to the public and all fire department personnel are invited to attend.

[Note from the Editor: I did not attend much of this meeting. I checked in for about 20 minutes in the late morning.] Discussion between these entities is a good thing. SPLOST amounts were discussed as well as new fire truck purchases. Locations for fire trucks were discussed. ISO ratings were also discussed. Need to wait until the water tower is up in North Pike and the water system is running before calling in ISO because they can't come back for one year after coming to the county. Discussed fire stations and both the repairs and new stations that are on the horizon. Needs were a big part of the discussion because the SPLOST purchases directly impact our Impact Fee schedule. Also discussed a fire department account that was closed out which had been used to deposit funds from billing home owners for call outs.

10.2.07
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BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
AGENDA
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
SEPTEMBER 25, 2007
6:30 PM

ZEBULON, GA - This meeting was attended by all of the commissioners except for Commissioner Jake Garner. He had advised that he would be late or maybe even not at all due to a problem at his employment.

CM Steve Marro advised that he had mixed up the terms EMA and EMS at the past meeting. Also was advised at the last meeting that a development could not be done off of a gravel road. Wendell Becker advised that this was not correct.

Wayne and Jackie Huff discuss Campbell Road. This was a request for Sheriff's Office to watch the road for speeders and a request to pave the road. The county is looking into the possibility of chip sealing roads in Pike County. Pike currently has 183 miles of dirt and 160 miles of paved roads. $$750,000 per mile to pave a road. $28,000 per mile to chip seal a dirt road.$109,000 from the State to pave roads. They gave Oaks Road as an example of this company's past work.

Questions were asked about the Water and Sewer Authority (W&SA) report and the need to keep track of where fire trucks are filled. There is a need for a system to keep an accounting of water so the W&SA will not think that there is a leak somewhere when it is in fact, the tanker getting filled to fight a fire.

CM Report - The clock tower is working. It sounds good btw. Hughley Road is mowed and graded. Parking issue at the Recreation Dept has been addressed. Tickets are being issued to people who park in handicapped spaces without proper certification. Chestnut Hill is being addressed. The CM told Becker and Goolsby to advise the contractor that it was ok to put the water meters in on Chestnut Hill and that has been done. Gravel has been placed on the Shackelford Road side. Said that it was ok to lift the cease and desist order because this is not the final approval. Said that the contractor has done a lot of work. Motion to lift cease and desist order. Approved.

District 1: Question on where money from billing homeowners during a fire call goes. Discussion that Tyree is a dept head and is accountable to the CM. Consensus that anything related to taxpayer money needs accountability. This will be addressed on Friday.

District 2: Flat Shoals needs to be concluded. Discussion that rock is on county right of way and that it is not there to stop erosion although there will be erosion from traffic when it is moved. The county is checking to be sure on ENS about whether it was on the soil and erosion plan though. Impasse because access does not need to be denied here but there is no parking because of the situation with the road which is the reason there is no parking there. Schedule a workshop to address this with all parties to find a solution.

District 3: Put in a work order on Arthur Road because part of the road was scraped and the rest of it was not.

Chairman: Invited to be on the Board of Directors for the Concord Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia. The old school building at Hilltop has been renovated. They need $20,000 in the next 20 days. CM advised that the handicapped accessible door on the Courthouse has been installed. It is a touch door.

County Attorney said that legislation has been discussed in Washington to crack down on sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants and possible whithold funds from these cities. Motion to say that Pike County has no intent to become a safe harbor for anyone who is here illegally and that we will, if during the course of regular events and investigation, we discover that you are here illegally, we will report you to the appropriate authorities. Approved 4-0. Motion to allow legal counsel to continue researching the correct drafting of legislation making English the official language here in Pike County. Approved 4-0. Said that lights were approved for the Senior Citizens' Center a year ago but nothing done. Looking into it.

Billy Paul discussed Text Amendment procedures. I fully expected to disagree with what Billy Paul had to say because of the Centerfield controversy but was pleasantly shocked to hear him echo the same concerns that I and others have spoken to Wendell Becker and the BOC about making sure that the public is fully apprised of what will be coming before the BOC in future meetings. He requested that ads for text amendments have more information in them than just the BOC will be considering text amendments to Section such and such of our code.

Wendell has done a better job of notifying the public than when I first requested that something besides text amendments be in the legal notice 2 years ago. The BOC and Wendell agreed that the public needs to know more than just text amendments and the code section to be informed. The ad that Billy referred to was one that was not as detailed as the ads usually have been of late.

No mention of Centerfield and Billy made sure to thank everyone who has put time into these text amendments. It has been nice to come into meetings and see the plats on the wall and have the text amendments on the screen so everyone can see them.

Second Reading of final inspection of Still Branch Reservoir Road & Second Reading of the acceptance of Fawnbrook Trail approved 4-0.

Second Reading of Text Amendment 156.233, Second Reading of Text Amendment 156.203, & Second Reading of Text Amendment 156.218. All of the Readings above when through without a hitch. Motion to approve all 3. Approved 4-0

Contract was renewed with Mid-Georgia Ambulance Service for FY 2008. Renewal with no increase. 2 paragraphs added for legal.

"Needs Analysis” study-Elizabeth Hudson, AIA, to speak. Precision Planning approached the county about doing a needs analysis study for the county in three phases that would determine current space needs with 5 and 10 year projections by department, do site evaluations for up to 3 possible sites, and put together a facility footprint for future planning. $5,000 for each phase. Just a concept plan and not blueprints. Discussion about whether had to be bid out. Normally anything over $10,000 is bid out. Approval with contingency that legal look into whether it needs to be bid out.

ACCG District #4 County Officials Meeting - Oct 24th

Financial Spreadsheets for Impact fee statement and disbursement sheet for August 2007, Monthly expenditure spreadsheet as of August 2007, Pike County balance sheet as of August 2007, & S.P.L.O.S.T. account statement as of September 2007 etc. Available by Open Records Request at the BOC office.

Tax Refund/Relief application from Riverview Lease/Loan Holdings--Removed from the agenda

Personnel Policy-replaces Title III-Administration, Chapter 36 - 17 pages currently but will be 42 pages long as proposed. Will take comments at the next meeting in order to enact as county legislation.

Rental of office space at the Chamber of Commerce building for one year period with option to renew because we need a space for our planner and GIS together. If this is not merged together, it will require a duplication of the computer program which will cost $25 to $30,000. $12,000 to do now. Discussion about budget needs for planner and space. Consensus that don't want to have 2 databases when 1 will do. approved 4-0 with money to come out of Building and Grounds.

Discussion of letter received regarding 2005 and 2006 audits from the State. Bottom line is that our yearly auditor cannot perform our monthly auditing or check the expenses over $500 or audit the authorities because it is basically auditing your own work to do it the way that we are now. Previous auditor advised that they could not do both because it got rid of needed checks and balances. Current auditor advised that she could do both. Discussion that the BOC should have been notified in 2004-2005 that the Rec Authority was unauditable. Brought up need for a Chief Financial Officer to do monthly checks on our work and establish needed financial policy Pike County. [Note from the Editor: And the issue is money now because of the mistake made in putting together the budget. The BOC will address this today and advise the public that it is being taken care of. Without being able to show the actual form for putting together the budget, it is hard to explain, but I believe it to be an honest mistake. Citizen Tommy Burnsed caught the error and advised the CM and BOC of the situation so it could be taken care of immediately.] There are not many companies who provide auditing services. This will be bid out.

EXECUTIVE SESSION-Personnel-Countywide pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6) 8:52 p.m. [Note from the Editor: Yes, I got the time right. Thank you to everyone who helped to reduce the time on our meetings and still get business taken care of.] Back into Open Session at 10:04 p.m. Motion to adopt and increase lineal step increases with no close on the step increases which will be based on date of employment. Approved 4-0.

Motion to allow CM to have a separate credit card on the county account. Approved 4-0.

ADJOURNMENT at 10:07 p.m.

Town Hall Meeting where citizens bring concerns to BOC. Discussed Pike County website, animal control, and step raises without a way to top out in a dept as an incentive to make more money and do a better job than your peers.

10.2.07
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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
9:00 AM

ZEBULON, GA - The Board of Commissioners meeting lasted from 9:00 a.m. until 1:50 p.m. this afternoon. There's a Letter to the Editor regarding today's BOC meeting. I am not even going to begin my write-up on that tonight since I am not happy with the way that the water line discussion went. Thank you to Commissioners Roosevelt Willis and Parrish Swift for their votes to work with the contractor to get this matter resolved and to the County Manager and County Attorney for their suggestions on the matter. I'll discuss this more later.

Thank you to the County Manager for making sure that Hughley Road was taken care of after the meeting. The grass was so high at the stop sign that I had to pull into the road to see if someone was coming from Meansville so I could take a left and go to the school and I'm in a truck. Imagine someone in a car. The road has been graded and gravel has been placed on it. Hughley Road is in much better condition since the Road Department has put in some time on it. Thank you to Commissioner Parrish Swift for bringing that up at the meeting again.

I do want to thank the Board of Commissioners for examining the text amendments that the CATF Subcommittee worked on and passing those items. The BOC took their time to examine this information and even add some information to make our Code of Ordinance logical and easy for citizens and business to read and follow. Thank you to the CM for asking if there was something that that the BOC could do for us and thank you to Wendell Becker for taking the initiative to print out a lengthy document for members of the committee so we can study and make informed decisions to pass along to the Planning Commission and the BOC.

[Note from the Editor: I apologize for making readers wait so long to find out what happened at the meeting. I am still disgusted with the way that a contractor--who is trying to save taxpayers dollars by working quickly and efficiently--has been and continues to be raked over the coals for those efforts. More on that later.]

All of the commissioners were at the BOC meeting on 9.12.07. Both Tom and Rob Morton were present at the meeting. Kim Morris took the minutes.

SUB 07-05: Subdivision Application-Ken Palmer Grading-Property is located on Liberty Road also know as Land Lots 154 & 155 of the 2nd land District. The proposal would divide 25.66 acres into eight parcels of no less than 2.62 acres. Several spoke in favor. None in opposition. This property is on Hwy 341 where other industrial parks are located. The BOC gave preliminary approval.

TEXT AMENDMENTS: The following sections of the code: Wendell Becker made these presentations that came from the Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance and has been approved by the Planning Commission. Thank you to everyone who helped to get these Text Amendments at the beginning of the meeting instead of at the end.

156.233 Permitted uses in M-1

156.203 Permitted uses in C-2 Approved 5-0

156.218 Permitted uses in C-3 Approved 5-0

The CM met with the Transportation Commissioner about Pike County, Unpublished cell phone numbers for employees have been published on a website (f.y.i. The Pollcat). These are emergency numbers that are to used as backup in case radios fail. If it is not an emergency, please do no use these phone numbers.

Clarification between EMA and EMS. Chief Tyree is currently acting as EMA Director but his job responsibility was never specified this way. ACCG is looking into this because there is a difference between paid and volunteer. Said that Pike County needs policy on this. EMA interfaces with GEMA and FEMA. It is different from EMS. The CM suggested a workshop with fire dept personnel to discuss this. Questions were asked about Tyree assumed this position and a recent problem with the bomb threat at the school without all of the necessary personnel in the county knowing about shows the need for protocol on this and a need to interface with the Sheriff's Office.

Authorized $300,000 on Hughley Road. A culvert project on Lifsey Springs. The DOT has a wealth of services available to Pike County and we haven't been using it. CM asked to be added to signature cards and bank accounts. Authorization for the Chairman to act for the BOC on this one action. Approved 5-0.

Mid State Striping is working with Public Works to get the shoulders clipped, etc. on Roberts Quarters Road and Zebulon Roads.

Spalding County has asked Pike County to join with them to get a grant from through One Georgia for wireless internet utility. The City of Zebulon was looking into this a year ago. They need 3,000 accounts to get this set up. Sun City has signed on for this so there is the 3,000 accounts to set it up. Spalding County will write the grant. User fees will be somewhere between $18 and $20. Needed a consensus from the BOC to move forward on this and got it.

Meansville negotiated changes on their engine and reduced the engine price and cut interest bearing charge in half. Funds will be disbursed on February 1st and the bank is ok with that. Direct Deposit for County employees. Approved 5-0.

Discussion about a slab barn that was poured before inspection of the footings. Apparently a neighbor is not happy with its definition as an accessory use as a barn. It is not wired for electricity and cannot be used for habitation. The barn owner paid the fine which is double the permit fee for starting without a permit. Our code says that it has to be inspected in order to use for habitation. Consensus of the BOC was that if there is no violation of our ordinance, leave it alone. If a violation occurs then deal with the problem. [Note from the Editor: Thank you to the BOC for not intruding into the lives of citizens unless there is a need for it.]

Commissioners Report

County Attorney Report

INVITED GUEST
Doug Rounds-Meeting protocol and ordinances; the timing of Executive Session

Howard Rawlins-Veterans Monument Grounds

Commissioner Steve Fry left the meeting at 10:45 a.m. due to a work commitment that could not be rescheduled.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Second Reading of 156.027 Text Amendment

Second Reading of 156.048 Text Amendment

Discussion of SUB 07-03 which was postponed from the 8/28/07 meeting

[Note from the Editor: This discussion went on FOREVER. I have 3 1/2 pages of notes and I'm not going to give everything in detail. This is the nutshell of the conversations.] John Nix spoke on Tom Lacey's behalf to the BOC. He gave a memo to the BOC that attempted to explain in writing what has been done and came before the BOC to ask what needed to be done in order to lift the cease and desist order on Gary Jones' company that is laying waterlines for the Water and Sewer Authority.

Chestnut Hill Road has been a point of contention. This road is lined by trees and has had waterline put in the middle of the road to avoid damaging the trees. The road has not been graded and put back into its original condition because there are services that needed to be added on the road before completion. John Nix advised that the W&SA is holding 5% retention in the amount of $140,000 and a 100% payment and performance bond (where the bonding company would pay to complete the project if it wasn't completed) with a 1 year guarantee on the work to ensure that the job is completed according to strict specifications. Said that the contractor has acted in good faith---even putting up address numbers on someone's mailbox and re-erected their sign that somehow fell down.

CM said that this sounds like a lack of coordination. The project is moving on Hwy 19N. Asked that Becker, Goolsby and someone from Jones' group to address these issues on a one-on-one basis. Tommy Burnsed spoke as a member of the W&SA. Made an analogy that this is like building a house one room at a time. If we beat contractors to death, the users of the water lines will pay exhorbitant fees down the road. There were no intermediate completion dates in the contract. Commissioner Willis disagreed with the analogy. Attorney Day respresenting Jones gave a suggestion to the entities to meet and discuss priorities. Asked for a commitment to address this matter with Goolsby and Becker and then move forward.

The question was asked whether the board wished to lift the cease and desist order. Commissioner Parrish Swift said he thought the Board should go with the CM and County Attorney recommendation for the parties to meet and discuss.

Public Works Director Todd Goolsby said that the county had graded and put out gravel on the road to address citizen concerns on the road to the tune of $2,500. There were complaints that an ambulance or fire truck could not access the road. Said that the concerns needed to be addressed immediately. Gary Jones said that he would reimburse the county for those costs.

Art Stephens lives on that road and asked to speak. Said that construction started on the road and it was fine, but then they got 3 months of rain in 4 hours and it was rough for 3 or 4 days. Said this is construction and these things happen. Asked when the road was going to be fixed back. Asked the BOC to allow the continuation of the project so Jones Construction could finish up the road. Said that he was not fussing about who's fault this is, just fix the problem.

Gary Jones said that he is a long-time contractor and said that the BOC is being very inconsiderate to his company. He is well-qualified to do what needs to be done in Pike County and will everything according to specifications before the job is completed. Also said that he would like to pay the county for the expense grading Chestnut Road. Said that it takes a while to do what needs to be done and get things done right. Stressed that he was underbudget and undertime and that he has never not finished a project.

The CM made the suggestion to let everyone work together by having a meeting between Jones, Becker, Goolsby, a member of the W&SA to sit down and discuss the problems. If satisfaction is reached, then give the CM authorization to allow Jones to go ahead with the project without a special called meeting. More discussion...

Then the meeting degenerated into a mess of words being exchanged between the contractor and Goolsby and the BOC. It should have been gavelled and brought back to order by the standing Chairman but was not. It was embarrassing to me as a citizen to sit there and listen to it.

Commission Willis made the motion to use CM advice to sit down and discuss and if CM is satisfied and Goolsby satisfied, then CM authorize the go ahead. No second. It was said that the project could be completely finished in 30 days and that the company would not be paid the $140,000 until it was completed. Tom Sloope of Carter and Sloope is the engineer on this project. Confirmed 12 month warranty and advised that if there is a problem after 12 months, the contractor will come back and repair items because their reputation is what they go by. There is no doubt in his mind that all items will be taken care of in a timely manner.

The county attorney advised that there is nothing in the cease and desist order that keeps them from working on the county right of way and that they still have to come back and do service work on the road. The CM said that the BOC pays him and dept heads to do work for them. Asked the BOC to let them handle this. Commissioner Willis made the motion again. Commissioner Swift gave the 2nd. 2-2 vote with Commissioners Powers and Garner against. The cease and desist stays.

Motion was made to allow public comment. Art Stephens voiced concern that after listening to all of this, what does he tell his neighbors? CM advised that the cease and desist keeps Jones from laying out new pipe but he can have his crews work where pipe has already been laid. CM asked that Becker and Goolsby to sit down with Jones Construction to sit down and discuss the issues and to report back to him.

Update 9.18.07: As if this morning, the water line issue stands as follows: A meeting was held last Friday after the meeting between Wendell Becker - Director of Community Development, Todd Goolsby - Public Works Director, Chris Goodman - Road Superintendent (Yes, the position was advertised for 5 days inhouse before he was hired according to Pike County policy. Chris' first day of work was last Friday.) Tommy Burnsed - Vice-Chairman of the Water and Sewer Authority, Kurt McCord - Carter and Sloope (the engineering company) and Gary and Nancy Jones - contractors for the Water and Sewer Authority (and Pike County residents). These officials rode the pipeline to view the problems and discuss how to fix problems in order to lift the cease and desist order so Gary Jones' crews can finish up the job. There has been a lot of work done on Chestnut Hill Road including adding the meters that were part of the service that was not complete so the road could not be finished. Loads of dirt have been hauled off, etc. I have confirmed that a citation was given to the company for a storm water drainoff into a tributary for the downpour that we got on Friday night. I was told that it was mentioned on Friday and was supposed to have been fixed immediately. I do not know if it has been fixed. (I've heard that it was fixed and that it hasn't been fixed.) There has been no lifting of the cease and desist order at this time.

[Note from the Editor: I am of the opinion that politics is creeping into this water line job because the BOC doesn't have complete control over how things are being done and can't control the Water and Sewer Authority. Whether I am right or wrong on that remains to be seen but I will say that water customers will be the ones to pay the price for this in the future. Every company who comes into Pike County to lay water lines is going to charge us a lot more than we are paying Gary Jones' company. He underbid the second lowest bidder by about $453,944 because he lives here and wanted to work in his home county. He has stated plainly that he will not work here again in the future.

I also agree with the analogy about building the house from start to finish by completing one room at a time. It is difficult to pull a crew from one place to another to fix complaints that are not matter of life and death--unlike Hughley Road which was a matter of life and death for anyone pulling into the road to check for oncoming traffic. It's not that the complaints are unimportant, but we are 30 days from a completed project for crying out loud and winter is coming fast.]

Final Inspection of Still Branch Reservoir Road

Changing Fall Road from a private road to a county maintained road

Repairs made to Chestnut Hill Road by the Pike County Road Department

NEW BUSINESS
Steve Marro to discuss making the Planner position a new department-Development Office

Clerk of Superior Court’s budget

Steve Reeves to discuss private road access to property in Spalding County-Flanders Farms-Robert Dallas-The property is located off of Bethany Church Road

Re-naming of Pam Proctor to the DFACS Board at the request of Susan Boggs. Discussion of whether this had to be advertised and applications accepted. This has always been done this way. There was research done to confirm this.

Don Bailey and Chairman Fry to discuss the possibility of using land near the women’s prison for an animal control shelter

Lisa and Ron Breier to discuss Equine Emergency 1st Response

EXECUTIVE SESSION
Pending Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A.§ 50-14-2(1)

ADJOURNMENT

9.18.07
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BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
AUGUST 28, 2007
6:30 PM

ZEBULON, GA - The meeting began on time and ended about 11:27 p.m. with a Town Hall Meeting afterward that went on after I left. Major concerns start with the Executive Session being moved to the beginning of the agenda before the Invited Guest who spoke for all of 2 minutes to ask the BOC to make Fall Road a county maintained road but had to wait until 9 p.m. to say what she came to say.

CM Report - Nancy working on list of board and authority appointments. 2 appts to Library Board and 1 to Water and Sewer Authority in October meeting. Check Pike Journal Reporter for legal info on this. The J. Joel Edwards Library has been chosen for the Library of the Month Spotlight by the Bill and Malinda Gates Association for the month of September. I'll get a website on this and post it for readers ASAP. This is a pretty big honor for our library. Working to get training for board and authority members in the county. Gave the BOC members worksheets that tracked SPLOST expenditures, new SPLOST funds, and other financial items in the county.

The BOC put another cease and desist order on the laying of new water lines until problems that have been presented to the Water and Sewer Authority can be fixed. Several citizens placed complaints at the meeting. Chestnut Road played a factor in this. 4-0-1 Willis abstained. Lacey argued that the Water and Sewer Authority is holding 10% of final amount to ensure that everything gets completed. Contract states that everything must be in same shape or better than when project began. Cited example that some roads are wider than when the contractor began. All complaints are being made in writing through the new system that seems to be working. This will keep the contractor from finishing out the little that is left on this contract.

Employees were made aware of the "Gag Order Ordinance" again last week. This ordinance was passed in 2004 and basically states that releasing information relevant to pending litigation will result in termination.

District 1 Willis asked why Mike Betts was removed from the agenda. Apparently this item was placed on the agenda without the knowledge of the CM. District 2 Swift asked about potholes and was advised that pothole patcher has been repaired and put in work orders on Cook, Howell, and Sullivan Roads. Work orders are being addressed. District 4 Garner asked about how to check a slab that was poured without prior inspection. Executive session 7:37 p.m. Back into Regular session 9 p.m.

Recreation Dept is $68,000 overbudget. Made motion to take money from contingency to ensure that the Rec Dept stays open for public use, but no frivolous purchases. Even discussed possibility of selling relatively new equipment to reimburse the contingency fund. Approved the movement of contingency money to cover the $68,000 shortfall. 5-0.

Authorization was given for 2 settlements against the county. Chambley vs. Pike (the Curtis Driveway/Road incident I think) and the Estate of Dolores Smith. 4-1 Willis opposed.

Mary Meadows spoke for all of 2 minutes to ask the BOC to make Fall Road a county maintained road. The county is going to look at the driveway and make a determination on it.

United Healthcare gave the lower quote so that is what the BOc is going with.

Billy Paul spoke about the upcoming text amendments and promoting adequate living conditions for those in neighborhoods close to commercial property. Spoke against allowing outdoor recreation on Commercial 1. Mentioned Centerfield specifically.

Double P Grading was put on the agenda. The rezoning was postponed from the past meeting by citizen request to see the recommended changes from the Planning Commission and Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) on Zoning and Ordinances. [Note from the Editor: This is commercial property that had a stipulation on it that if the prior Marie's Restaurant closed its doors, it would revert back to A-R so another business would come before the BOC for rezoning. That, as has been stated by a citizen in a previous meeting, is not zoning. It is issuing a special use permit, but I digress. The property owner received a citation then applied for rezoning. This is one of several that has been cited of late.]

Commissioner Garner made the motion to approve the rezoning from commercial to manufacturing (M2A). A 2nd was given by Commissioner Powers. Discussion: Commissioner Swift suggested that since there are issues all over the county with heavy equipment and that the BOC needs to re-evaluate our ordinances on this. Recommended someone unbiased to come in to evaluate our ordinances. Asked that the BOC wait on this instead of voting on it tonight. Commissioner Willis concerned about the stipulation and this business coming in after Marie's. If rezoned M2A, a stipulation may not work and the BOC would be allowing other M2A businesses to come into that location. Fry said that he thought the BOC had let down the people around there because the BOC didn't hold up its end of the bargain. The final vote came down 2-3. [Note from the Editor: This means that the rezoning application has been denied and it will be 2 years before the request can be made again to M2A zoning. There is a possibility that the rezoning application can be made again under C-3 or wherever the Planning Commission and BOC put Specialty Contracting. Commissioner Garner should have waited on this.]

Motion to increase the mileage rate for county employees $0.45 per mile. 4-1 with Garner opposed.

Discussion of fire stations. Suggestion for workshop. Fire Chief reports to the CM. Fire should be delivering monthly report of taxpayer expenditures to the BOC like everyone else. No more PO's out of SPLOST until find out what the new fire stations are going to cost. Addressed rumor that Pike County was not going to accept delivery of fire trucks (that was said at a previous BOC meeting) by saying that new fire engines bought with SPLOST funds will be delivered to the county when manufacturer advises that they are ready because accommodations have been made for them at fire stations in the county.

Timothy and Elizabeth Buffington have applied for a Tax Refund/Relief that was denied by the BOC in a 5-0 vote. Said that an assessment was sent out in 2004 and 2005 and it was not challenged within 45 days.

Final Plat Review for Phase II and III of Oak Grove Subdivision. Everything is not up to specs yet. Apology was made as well as plans to meet with county and with grader for subdivision to finish up to county specs. Motion to postpone until next meeting. Approved 4-0.

This leads us to the text amendments portion of the meeting. [Note from the Editor: The CATF has been meeting twice a month since December to review our ordinances. The CATF suggestions to our code of ordinance will go before the Planning Commission beginning on the first Thursday night in September. The Planning Commission will be meeting twice a month to review and send recommended changes to the Board of Commissioners for its vote over the next couple of months.]

There was hesitation on these text amendments because the county attorney had to leave early. [Note from the Editor: I am of the opinion that the BOC should not meet without legal counsel being present. Chaos descended over the meeting after Rob left at 9:50 p.m. The text amendments portion of the meeting was a circus by the end of the meeting.

Commissioner Tommy Powers advised me by phone this morning that he did not vote in opposition to the text amendments, but he voted no because the BOC did not have legal representation at the meeting.]

Commissioner Tommy Powers said that he wanted legal counsel to be present at a meeting where the text amendments were discussed. Commission Parrish Swift asked if Rob Morton had read the text amendments.

Special Exceptions; Special Use Permits - 1st reading passed 3-1 with Powers opposed.

Permitted Uses in A/R passed 3-1 with Powers opposed.

Permitted Uses in C-1 Districts [Note from the Editor: Centerfield Sports and Fitness is currently zoned C-1. The outdoor ballfield has been a source of contention since December 2006 when the past BOC began discussions on it and the present BOC decided to deny the annual business license for the outdoor part of the business. Citations are being issued whenever the ballfield is used now. Those cititions have been requested to be placed on the Superior Court docket for a jury trial. See story below.] Commissioner Swift's motion for approval died for lack of a 2nd. Motion to deny was passed with a 3-1 vote with Commission Swift dissenting.

Motion to deny C-2 Permitted Uses. Commissioner Swift made the motion so that the BOC would be consistent. 4-0 vote.

The entire meeting became a broader discussion of Billy Paul versus the attorney for Centerfield Sports and Fitness Center, Newton Galloway. The fact that each request would have to go before the Board of Appeals and then to the BOC for a final approval with discretionary power did not matter in the end. Planning Commission Member Doug Rounds said that this text amendment would only allow someone to make a request for a Special Exception or Special Use Permit on their property. "If you terminate tonight, where do we go from here?"

Motion to approve C-3 permitted uses died for lack of a 2nd. Commissioner Willis made the motion. Clarification was made that the text amendment was in limbo because a motion to deny was not made.

[Note from the Editor: The Planning Commission put a lot of work into this amendment. 2 meetings were spent discussing this ordinance and an unprecedented Executive Session for the purpose of pending litigation was held at the first of two meetings where this ordinance was discussed. Planning Commission members are volunteers that are appointed by the BOC. I agree with the member of the Planning Commission who went so far as to ask the BOC where do we go from here?

The CATF Subcommittee on Ordinance and Zoning has spent a lot of time discussing our ordinances and making recommendations as well. Let me make it clear that the CATF did not draft these ordinances, but the CATF Subcommittee has made suggestions for changes to many of our ordinances that will be coming before the BOC over the course of the next couple of months. Maybe I jumped the gun a bit, but I firmly believe that if the BOC will disregard the recommendations of the Planning Commission, which is part of Pike County's system of government, the CATF recommendations will be disregarded too.

The situation with Centerfield is complicated, but according to my understanding, the BOC was looking for a compromise resolution to the situation at Centerfield. It was suggested at a previous meeting, and I thought the BOC was going to abide by this compromise because this compromise was reached according to their suggestion. A majority of the BOC changed its mind at the last minute on this and that is not fair to anyone.]

Update 8.30.07: The first letter to the editor about Tuesday night's meeting went up this afternoon. Citizens that I have spoken with are very unhappy with the way that the meeting turned out.

I hope that the Board of Commissioners will place these text amendments on the agenda for the next meeting and do what should have been done at Tuesday night's meeting.

[Note from the Editor: I have added a few notes to the meeting above. I specifically changed the order of the two motions that were made as a result of Executive Session. Those two items are $68,000 being moved from contingency to cover the expenses of the Rec Authority and the authorization of settlement of two lawsuits.]

9.5.07
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Centerfield Sports and Fitness

ZEBULON, GA - The Board of Commissioners will be deliberating on a text amendment to Pike County's Code of Ordinance that has been reviewed and recommended for approval by the Planning Commission. This change to our Code of Ordinance will allow outdoor activities on property that is zoned commercial and agricultural-residential. Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc., owned by Pike citizen Mike Grant, will be directly affected by the decision of the Board of Commissioners.

Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. is a workout facility with batting cages located at the entrance of Brookstone Subdivision on Highway 19 between Zebulon and Griffin. It has been in operation since 2004. Centerfield built an outdoor walking track and an outdoor baseball field on Lot #1 of Brookstone Subdivision in 2005. Lot #1 is zoned C-1 (commercial) and is limited to a list of permitted uses and accessory uses that are in the Pike County Code of Ordinance. Outdoor activity is not on that list.

However, before building the baseball field and walking track, Mr. Grant was given permission to build the outdoor ballfield and walking track from both the property owners in Brookstone Subdivision and the Pike County Office of Community Development (formerly building and zoning). An amendment to the original Homeowner's Association Covenant was signed by property owners and filed with Superior Court on June 10, 2005 which would specifically allow a parking lot, ball field, 8 batting cages, playground, picnic area, and swimming pool. Mr. Grant built a berm of dirt and planted trees along the lot facing the adjoining lot as a shield for noise for the occasional children's baseball game. He also planted trees along the edge of the property aligning the road.

The work on the parcel of property was completed by September of 2005. A complaint was filed in writing in August of 2006 by Brookstone Subdivision resident, Billy Paul. There is an appeal process in Pike's Code of Ordinances. The Board of Appeals had to abide by this when it reviewed the complaint in September of 2006. Mr. Paul's appeal was denied by the Board of Appeals on a 3-2 vote on September 21, 2006.

On December 13, 2006, Billy Paul, made a presentation on zoning violations at Lot #1 Brookstone Way. Mr. Paul's concerns included setting a precedent that will allow for future nuisance zoning decisions--for example, a pet store expanding with a kennel--and a concern expressed by Mr. Paul that everyone should have to follow the rules.

Office of Community Development Director Wendell Becker told the BOC that he based his decision to allow the outdoor activities at Centerfield on the basis that Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. supports youth baseball. Mr. Becker felt that this was an expansion of Mr. Grant's current business and stated that the previous BOC had placed no stipulations on the property. The Zoning Administrator was allowed to use this discretion at that time. BOC members were adamant that the ballfield should not have been allowed.

Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. applied for its annual business permit on January 2, 2007 and received a letter from the Office of Community Development citing the BOC discussion at the December meeting. The license application was declined.

At the next meeting of the BOC on January 10, 2007, Attorney Newton Galloway gave a 26 page presentation to the BOC on Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. Newton Galloway gave the BOC a copy of the Department of Community Development business/zoning license application for Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. which states that the nature of the business is health, sports, fitness, baseball training and tournaments. [Note from the Editor: The employees and the schedule at Centerfield Fitness Center reflect the emphasis on baseball training and tournaments. There are batting cages to be used for training that can include private lessons with former major league players, camps and clinics, tournaments, and youth sports and fitness training for children.]

Attorney Newton Galloway presented details about Lot #1 of Brookstone Subdivision including the original restrictive covenant filed January 8, 2004 which did not allow "business or commercial activity of any nature" and the amendment filed June 10, 2005 which would "specifically allow: Parking lot, Ball field, 8 batting cages, Playground, Picnic area, Swimming pool" and "specifically prohibit: No buildings of any kind, except pavilion..." This First Amendment to Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions for Brookstone Subdivision was signed by all property owners in the subdivision including Mr. Paul's wife, who was not married to him at the time she signed the Amendment.

There was a copy of the receipts from Pike County and Land Disturbance Permit issued in 2005. Galloway walked through the legality for use as a ball field and cited discretion given to Zoning Administrator along with procedure for permit appeal by an aggrieved party. Mr. Galloway also presented a brief of a legal case which he argued before the Supreme Court of Georgia and lost. Massey v. Butts County, 637 S.E.2d 385 (2006) requires "special damages" for standing, allows no neighborhood challenge for zoning violation or permit issue error absent proof, and requires economic diminuation in value even if the Zoning Administrator decision is error and the use is not permitted. No challenge can be made by property owner without proof of special damage.

Galloway concluded with Pike County's liability of improper denial of Centerfield's business license and questioned whether the BOC was willing to use taxpayer money to buy this business. As a result of this presentation, the Board of Commissioners voted to renew the indoor portion of Mike Grant's business license but not the license for outdoor activities. The BOC also changed our code of ordinance to no longer allow the Zoning Administrator to have the ability to make a decision on an accessory use if it is not allowed in our ordinances. This decision now goes before the Board of Appeals and the power to make that decision ultimately lies with the BOC.

A citizen suggested at a later meeting that the BOC find a compromise in this situation. A text amendment was presented at the Planning Commission meeting in May to allow outdoor activities as a special exception on land that is zoned A-R (Agricultural/Residential), R 6, 11, 15, and 20 (Residential), and on C 1, 2, and 3 (Commercial). Citizen Billy Paul protested against the proposed change in our ordinances, but the Planning Commission recommended that the BOC approve this change.

This change to our ordinance will require the property owner to fill out an application for special exception with the Office of Community Development and apply for either a one time or a permanent conditional use permit for their property. The first hearing is before Board of Appeals and the Board of Commissioners will have the final say on the matter when it comes before them for the final hearing.

Ultimately, Pike County is faced with a choice of whether to compromise on the issue of outdoor activity on a commercially zoned piece of property or face a lengthy court battle that Pike County citizens--as taxpayers paying the cost of attorneys in this litigation--will lose.

Update 8.28.07: The BOC voted to deny this amendment at the 8.27.07 meeting. See story above.

8.25.07
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SPECIAL CALL MEETING
AUGUST 20, 2007
6:00 PM

AGENDA

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry

II. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

III. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

IV. EXECUTIVE SESSION

Personnel-General pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

V. ADJOURNMENT

Agenda was amended to discuss Water and Sewer Authority appointments. Research was done to verify that Chairman of the Water and Sewer Authority Tom Lacey's board appointment was up in December of 2006 and the BOC will be taking applications for that position on the Water and Sewer Authority. An ad will be running in the newspaper shortly.

[Note from the Editor: I did not attend this meeting so I could be missing something here, but I'm hoping that Special Called Meetings will not become a regular occurrence again. Waiting one week and a day for the Regular Called Meeting would not have been a bad thing unless the Personnel-General discussion truly was something that needed an immediate answer.]

8.20.07

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AGENDA REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
AUGUST 8, 2007
9:00 AM

[Note from the Editor: The meeting began at 9:00 a.m. and lasted until 11:35 a.m. This is a marked change from the last meeting. I will soon have an updated copy of Pike County's current ordinances as they were presented to the Board of Commissioners this morning. I will not be able to upload them onto the website at this time, but I may consider doing that at a later time. This will involve a WHOLE lot of work.]

Present: Commissioners Willis, Swift, Powers, Fry, and Garner. Attorney Rob Morton. CM Steve Marro.

Commissioner Parrish Swift made a comment during the approval of the minutes that he thought Nancy wasn't going to have to transcribe the minutes word for word anymore. No one else addressed it and Chairman Fry moved on to the next subject. [Note from the Editor: As I uploaded the July minutes, I noticed that they are no longer word for word. Nancy works a lot of hours to get minutes typed up before each meeting. How she manages to get anything done besides minutes is beyond me, but she does!]

The GA DOT asked for additional roads to be added to the LARP list and requested that nothing be shown on the list except for the names of the roads. The 2008 LARP list that has been submitted for resurfacing includes: Shackleford Road, McKinley Road, Reidsboro Road, New Hope Road, Williamson-Zebulon Road, Roberts Quarters Road, Old Zebulon Road, Hollonville Road, Kings Road, and Cook Road. This doesn't mean that any of the roads will get paved for sure. There are other resources that that we can utilize from the state to get culverts put in--they will provide the culverts if we provide the manpower to put them in, etc. Maybe even matching money to finish up Reidsboro Road.

Pike County's Personnel Policy is almost ready to be reviewed and adopted. The grievance procedures policy "will provide a procedure whereby employees may resolve disputes or complaints related to actions covered by the Pike County Personnel Policies and Procedures." This "will give terminated employees the right to be heard on matters of discrimination, unfair practices or other grievances" and it is sorely needed in Pike County because we have nothing now.

Step One will be the right to discuss a specific problem with the immediate supervisor. There is a 7 day limit on complaints and for issuing a written response from the supervisor. Step Two requires that a formal written grievance (along with the written immediate supervisor's response) can then be submitted the intermediate level supervisor or the County Manager or Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

[Note from the Editor: The paper trail is good, but I wonder why the County Manager OR the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners are on the same level. Maybe this is for someone whose immediate supervisor is the CM so the next step must be the Chairman of the BOC. Why would the Chairman of the BOC meet with an employee? I realize that the CM is accountable to the BOC as a whole, but the Chair may not hold the same opinion as the Board as a whole. Is it a good idea for the Chair to meet with employees? I will have to see the reasoning behind it because I am not convinced of this now. This has caused problems in the not so distant past which is why employees are the sole responsibility of the CM and not the BOC in part or the whole. Since this has not been discussed in an open meeting yet (but someone had a meeting before the Appeals Board on Friday--don't ask me how because I don't know) I can't give answers on why this policy lays things out the way that it does. Hopefully it will be fully explained before it is given the ok. Overall, this grievance policy is a good thing because it spells out procedure to all involved parties.]

Step Three is the CM of Chair of the BOC. Again, it must be in a written with the previous decisions submitted with the complaint with a 7 day limit just as before. The CM or Chair of the BOC shall meet with the affected employee and a representative of their choosing. A written response,just as with the earlier steps, will be given to the employee within 7 days after the meeting.

Written responses to grievances shall include the time, date and person who received the grievance [Note from the Editor: Making someone sign for a complaint along with a time and a date acknowledging receipt of the complaint is an excellent idea if it hasn't been made policy already.] Analysis of the facts or allegations in the grievance and affirmation or denial of the allegations will be included in the written response to the grievance. And any remedies or adjustments will be included in the grievance as well.

If a grievance is not given to the specified parties by the employee within the 7 days in this policy, the grievance shall be considered void. If the department does not respond within 7 days, the employee is allowed to proceed to the next step--"However, employees are encouraged to make a reasonable attempt to determine the reason for the delay." The policy goes on to state that scheduled vacations, sick days, or other authorized leave for dept business--like a scheduled seminar, etc.--can result in an extension of time not to exceed 7 days that must be provided to the other party in a written form.

[Note from the Editor: This is just my opinion, but there is no reason for an employee to be placed in this situation. If the complaint is void when an employee does not abide by the 7 days, then the county should abide by the same rules making the complaint validated and automatically moved up to the next step if a supervisor does not respond within the required amount of time unless the request for one extension is given in a written form or there should be some other form of penalty for the supervisor. County business is important, but a legitimate complaint should be taken care of as soon as possible. There should be penalties for employees that harrass a supervisor with complaints that are not legit as well. Equal protection for everyone.] There is an allowance for the employee to withdraw the grievance by written notification to all involved parties at any time in the process and the specification that the CM is responsible for coordinating the grievance procedure by maintaining and controlling all records relating to the grievance in a manner that ensures confidentiality and preparing written reports analyzing filed grievances.

The final step is an Appeals Hearing and it is only reached when the grievance policy is exhausted. The employee and his or her representative have the right to explain and argue the grievance before the Pike County Personnel Appeals Committee which is composed of one or more members from the BOC, a rep from the County Attorney's Office, the CM, members of the CATF (Citizens Advisory Task Force), a dept rep to explain to the dept's position and any other county employee selected by the employee. This will be an informal hearing with no record of the proceedings though there will be a right of cross-examination. Findings shall be rendered within 15 days and are binding upon all parties involved in the process.

Discussion on Hughley/Huckaby Road Pike County will let this contract in order to speed up the bid process. State will pay for accelleration and deaccelleration lanes in front of the new Middle School that is supposed to be ready in time for opening next year. There are no problems with adjacent land owners. Motion for the county to let this road 4-1 with Garner opposed.

Discussion about the budget. CM says that net digest is up and that the $10.3 million dollar budget for next year is a balanced budget. There are some questions that have arisen about the budget from citizens. Staff is getting calls about the budget. "Net Digest is up. Milleage rate is down. Equals $6,000,078 budget. Had $1 left over. That is what is put in the budget." Checking on one other aspect of data to be presented at a later meeting. "You have a balanced budget," said Marro.

District 1 Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked if a policy was in place on how to get employees to and from the motorgraders. Yes, they are taken out by truck in the morning with their lunch and a cooler. Still getting complaints about striping. County Attorney Rob Morton advised that the bid winner is waiting DOT approval on contract before purschasing materials. Advised that the Road Dept needs to be getting roads prepped.

District 2 Commissioner Parrish Swift used the term "budget slandering" when asking about the budget. [Note from the Editor:The BOC needs to understand that this isn't personal against them or any individual staff. BOC members may be insulted because people are asking questions and not taking their word for it that this is a balanced budget, but the people are interested in what is going on with our budget instead of sitting on the sidelines not caring. I say that is a good thing.] Swift asked about status of 90 day moratorium. Ordinance changes were tabled a couple of months ago at a midnight meeting. Where are we now? Planning and Zoning Director Wendell Becker persented a copy of an updated version of Pike County's Ordinance Book Chapters 153, 154, 155, and 156. CM asked Becker to prepare this for the BOC. Recodification will be in the works after the suggested changes are presented to the Planning Board and BOC from the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances.

Attorney Newton Galloway had received a letter from Attorney Rob Morton advising that the ordinance changes for outdoor recreation on A-R and C properties (See article below) would be brought before the BOC this morning. This concerns Mr. Galloway's client Mike Grant with Centerfield Sports and Fitness Center who has not been allowed to use the ballfield and walking track behind his facility since December of 2006 even though county authorization was given to build the facility as an extension of his business. [Note from the Editor: Use the search engine at the bottom of the page to read more about this topic. These ordinances were supposed to be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting prior to this BOC meeting that was cancelled due to lack of a quorum. The changes have since been discussed at the regular call Planning Commission meeting. I expect to see them on the agenda for the night meeting.] Morton apologized for not following up with Mr. Galloway, but the BOC would not allow Galloway to speak in the meeting.

Click here for property that will be affected by this text amendment change. I expect this to come before the BOC at the night meeting on the last Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Don Bailey gave an update on animal control for the BOC. Said that there will be a Pike County Animal Control Meeting on Thursday, August 30th at 7 p.m. at the J. Joel Edwards Library in Zebulon. Final approval is pending for the Pike County Spay and Neuter Clinic that is tentatively scheduled for October 13th at the Bus Barn.

Kurt McCord advised that there is $21,000 in excess funds on the Hwy 41 waterline project to Ranew's. Advised that this is close to $150,000 under budget and almost complete. Took a bid to add 3 extensions- 1) on the west side to Supreme, 2) to Yancy and Industrial Park and 3) to Ranew's Trucking. There was a stipulation that this was for economic development on Hwy 341. DCA is not guaranteed to give us the $70,000 that is left over but seems promising to give it to us. $22,000 still left in contingency budget from last year. This is for unforeseen expenses such as hitting rock, etc. Asked permission to use $2,000 out of the orignal $22,000 because bids for the 3 extensions will be about $2,100 over the amount that is left from the DCA.

See minutes from this meeting for more information.

8.12.07
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BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
JULY 31, 2007
6:30 PM

This meeting lasted until after Midnight. The Courthouse is beautiful at Midnight, but I would rather have been at home asleep. See the We are Pike County page for that picture.

There is a surplus on the EIP grant for waterlines out on Hwy 341. This means that the Water and Sewer Authority (W&SA) can put in more water lines in that area. Discussion was held that the W&SA is a separate entity from the Board of Commissioners (BOC). The W&SA has the authority to address its own billing, illegal tapping into water lines, late payment penalties, etc. [Note from the Editor: I've been told more than once that the W&SA was created by the state to take the politics out of the water business. I understood exactly why this was done after last night. More on this in a moment.]

Comissioner Willis said that he had received a letter asking him to rescind the motion for the past Interim County Manager (CM) to repay the county for his travel expenses and Comissioner Willis said that he would not rescind the motion. Discussion about capping step increases because a few employees are getting a rather large 2% step increase on the anniversary of their hiring date every year. [Note from the Editor: My personal thoughts on this are that if we have employees that have been at Pike County more than a couple of years--especially as long as 17 years--we ought to give them a medal ! ] Long discussion that finally ends with decision that CM will look for old wage comparison and if he cannot find it or it is not up to date, we'll have another done by a 3rd party like McIntosh Trail. Maybe even see if another county closeby has done this so we can review those records.

The attorney is working on a Litter Ordinance.

Discussion of confrontation about water lines on Caldwell Road. Questions were asked about whether BOC has authority to remove a member of the W&SA and whether or not the W&SA could be dissolved through the Legislature.

In this particular situation, the problem is that there was not a proper chain of command to follow with a problem with the water lines. The BOC members say that they have people calling them and BOC members want to handle it, but those working are under the authority of the W&SA. So a policy was established last night that all complaints need to be put into writing and given to CM Marro who will be the one person to represent the county in a dialogue with the W&SA. This way complaints can be handled in a timely manner.

The BOC asked our attorney to put the W&SA's attorney on formal notice that the BOC wants all work stopped on the lines and that the problems have to be cleared up within 30 days. As it stands, the project is 300 days ahead of schedule and water could be run through the lines to some of the households not too long in the future.

There will be a SCM of the W&SA at 3 p.m. on Thursday (tomorrow) to handle complaints about the water lines. Hopefully everyone will sit down together and talk in a civil manner to resolve the problems on Caldwell Road and other complaints that were aired. Thanks to the Gilberts for giving their views on this situation to the BOC.

There was a 4-1 vote on the new budget. Jake voted against it. The Board of Education is adopting their budget today and the final touches will be put on the entire budget for delivery to the state next week. There probably won't be a penalty because no appointment was open on the 1st or 2nd to drop this off in Atlanta so it had to be done next week. The milleage rate for the county is 12.79 compared to 12.80 last year. Total milleage is 27.607 compared to 29.043 last year.

BOC was supposed accept dedication on the reservior road last night but it has no striping. After that is done, it will become a county maintained road.

Mayor Sonny Story asked the BOC for motion of intent that they will not move the ambulance from Concord in the near future if Concord builds a nice facility for the ambulance crew. He got it.

Final acceptance of Fawnbrook Subdivision was not made last night. This will have to come up at a later meeting. Goolsby is satisfied with the corrections that have been made, but the BOC needs a little more info on this before accepting. Brown Station Subdivision was accepted with stipulation that deed is given to the BOC for SW corner lot.

Flat Shoals update. The land on the other side of the bridge is not going to be in Pike County price range. CM still following up on this matter. County Attorney has advised Walker Chandler that this is being followed up on.

Freeport Extension was passed.

Discussion of intergovernmental proposal covering recreational facilities and personnel effective November 1, 2007. This would streamline operations through the Recreation Authority and Associations. Property and assets belong to the Authority just like the Industrial Development Authority owns the Business Park and the W&SA owns the water lines. Commissioner Swift brought some clarity to the discussion when he pointed out that the Recreation Authority was being treated differently than the other authorities. An explanation was given that the Recreation Authority because the explanation was then given that the Recreation Authority provides services to the children for the entire county. In this way, the Rec Authority is different than the others. SPLOST and Impact Fees will be written into the agreement. After October 31st, Director Shawn Shoats will be accountable to the entire Rec Authority Board. Until that time, he will continue to be accountable to the CM. Employees remain accountable to the Director. [Update 8.6.07 Note from the Editor: I have clarified this paragraph because it was not as clear as I thought it should be. Commissioner Swift was adamant that all authorities be treated the same way across the board.]

Lin Betts made a presentation on the County/Recreation Department grant to develop a park and recreation reserve for Pike County. I am working to get this info from Lin because it is complicated without great detail, but the long and short of it is this. The state called us and has offered Pike County a chance to obtain greenspace for parks and walking trails in our own county. We don't have this now. If we say no, it will be a LONG time before we get another chance like this.

If we say yes, and the BOC finally did, we are obligating ourselves to the possibility of matching from 1% up to 25% of this grant, but if the county can't meet the obligations, then the grant will go away. If we go through with this, there will also be possibilities of more public land in Pike County from the State in the future.

The Recreation Department Director, Shawn Shoats, came before the BOC to ask for money to run the Recreation Department through the end of our current fiscal year. He advised that the Rec Department has been in the red since May because of budget cuts from the November budget. The Rec Dept is not the only one in the red. Recreation asked for $357,594 in the past budget and was given $296,956.

There was an in depth discussion of past expenses, outstanding debts, and budget items. In the end, there are items such as the $36,000 in the Rec Dept.'s capital outlay that will be used for operating expenses as well as any other outstanding unused amounts until the new budget takes effect on November 1st. At this point, there is only $103,000 left in Contingency for emergency county needs and it is pretty much going to be spent before November 1st. The CM keeps talking about a 10 month budget that we are working under and it is starting to show on the books.

During the course of this discussion, it came to light that Mike Betts had been told not to do work for Recreation and that Shawn had to use funds to get electrical wiring done as well as renting equipment in order to get work done out at the facility. There is a new policy in place that will enable the Recreation Authority to get their needs taken care of through the county instead of using funds to pay outside sources. All needs will be given to the CM in writing so he can coordinate this.

REZ 07-08: Carolyn Pierce has applied for a change in zoning classification for 5 acres of property located at 3060 Hwy 362 in Williamson, GA. The request is for a change in classification from C-2 to M2A to allow for the business of heavy construction-grading contractor. The property is properly referred to as being in land Lot 165 of the 1st Land District on Tax Map 51-1.

This is property that was originally zoned for C-2 for Marie's Family Restaurant with the stipulation that if this were ever to cease being a restaurant, it would revert back to A-R zoning. The property was then bought by the Pierce family and used as an office for heavy construction and has been in business for past 2 years. They were advised that by the county that they would have to rezone because could not operate this business in a C-2 zoning. The BOC is enforcing its codes. The Planning Commission voted to deny this zoning based on the list of criteria that it was a detriment to surrounding property owners because of traffic, access off of a dirt road, etc. [Note from the Editor: Owner of the property did advise that there is no dirt road access on this property.]

County Attorney Rob Morton advised the BOC to enforce their ordinances. Vonda Blount asked that it be approved as requested or the ordinance revamped. Margie Trammell is the Chairman of the CATF Subcommittee on Ordinances and Zoning. She advised that this committee is making suggestions on our ordinances including what items fit in particular categories. Suggested that decisions on all rezoning and reversions be postponed because the Planning Commission will start hearing those suggestions tomorrow night and then the BOC will hear suggestions from both within a matter of weeks. Citizen Buddy Fuller presented a petition against the business saying that citizens fought it the first time and were overruled. They were told that it would go back to A-R if it ceased to be a restaurant. Lot of traffic in the area.

Public hearing was closed. Motion to wait on CATF Ordinance Committee decision. 5-0 to postpone. BOC discussion included enforcement of code, what the citizens were told, a caution that "haste makes waste" as far as rushing to make a decision on this because of the changes that are in the works for our ordinances, etc.

REZ 07-09: The Pike County Commissioners have petitioned for change in a zoning classification through reversion of property located on Hwy 19N at the intersection of Buchanan Road. The property would revert from C-2 to A-R classification. The property of 7.35 acres is owned by D&K Properties and the property is properly referred to as being in Land Lot 89 of the 2nd Land District and found on Tax Map 74-69.

07-09 and 07-10 are owned by the same person. County Attorney Rob Morton advised the BOC to enforce their ordinances. Planning Commission was split 2-2 on reversion. (See story from last month's Planning Commission meeting.) The owner has no problem with it going back to A-R and even asked if that meant that the property taxes would go down on it.

Vonda Blount spoke against reversion because the commercial overlay will be in this area, commercial property is what the Comprehensive Plan, and this is our commercial growth corridor. Asked that we look at changing the code. This is costing taxpayer money and will lower our tax base.

Motion was made to revert back to A-R. 4-1 vote with Commissioner Parrish Swift opposed. Swift advised that if this was a spot of commercial in an isolated area, he would vote to revert, but this is not the case. Citizen Margie Trammell asked the BOC to undo what they just did and postpone these reversions because the CATF has worked hard to get decisions together. Asked them even to wait until the commercial overlay is completed--which will be soon I am told.

REZ 07-10: The Pike County Commissioners have petitioned for a change in zoning classification through reversion of property located on Hwy 19 N at the intersection of Carver Road. The property would revert from C-2 to A-R classification. The property of 2.67 acres is owned by D&K Properties and the property is properly referred to as being in Land Lot 89 of the 2nd Land District and found on Tax Map 74-71.

This piece of property is less than 3 acres so the BOC could vote to revert it to R-11 or A-R--though A-R specifies that there must be 3 acres and this property did not meet that criteria. County Attorney Rob Morton again advised that the BOC already voted to authorize the Director of Community Development (Building and Zoning) to do this and advised that they have the authority to rezone to R-11. Citizen John Morrison spoke in favor of reversion and said that if someone came before the BOC with a specific purpose for their property, that they should have to follow through with it. Asked for reversion of property.

Citizen Margie Trammell told why the Planning Commission was divided on reversions and said that she didn't like the word "discretionary" in the definition of reversion because it gives the BOC the power to pick and choose. Said again that this property is in the commercial overlay and didn't think it was wise to revert it. Said that the owner ought to have to pay the $500 to revert the property back to A-R instead of BOC doing it and taxpayers paying to revert property to A-R and lower this property owner's taxes on their property.

The question was asked why these properties were chosen first. The public was advised that there are a dozen or more properties that are on the list to be reverted. Citizen Vonda Blount reiterated that the ordinance says "you may" and that they don't have to revert these properties. This is the logical place for commercial growth and commercial projects often take longer than you imagine. She also said that people have been coming before the BOC with specific reasons because the BOC has asked for this because some things allowed in zoning categories are too broad. To limit people to particular items in a zoning category is giving a special use permit and it is not zoning. If it's zoned for C-2 then someone else can come in and do something from the C-2 list. Asked the BOC to refine the categories.

[Note from the Editor: Emphasis from Mrs. Blount at the meeting and I feel it warrants special emphasis on here too because it is true and will cause more problems than just the one with Marie's Family Restaurant above. I understand the concept of wanting only to allow a specific item or items from our zoning categories, but the BOC is asking Community Development to go back through a check list every time someone comes to them for a permit or whenever a piece of previously zoned property changes owners. I think it is asking too much. Readers can imagine the nightmare if a piece of property has changed hands several times over a period of years. The CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances has worked hard on putting items into better zoning categories.] Motion was made to revert back to R-11. 4-1 vote with Commissioner Parrish Swift opposed.

REZ 07-11: The Pike County Commissioners have petitioned for a change in zoning classification through reversion of property located on Hwy 19 N near the intersection of Wilder Road. The property would revert from C-2 to A-R classification. The property of 7.65 acres is owned by Joel & Gretchen Baskins and the property is properly referred to as being in Land Lot 91 of the 2nd Land District and found on Tax Map 75-111.

Rob Morton same as before. Also clarified to point out that just because they have discretion doesn't mean that they shouldn't go through the process. Citizen John Morrison same for reversion. Citizen Vonda Blount advised that this property owner wants to do a landscape aggregate supply business on this property. He did ask for a building permit and had the appeal process explained to him since reversion was already in progress. This owner may be in opposition to rezoning. Motion was made to deny reversion. 3-2 with Commissioners Jake Garner, Tommy Powers, and Parrish Swift voting against reversion.

Motion to consolidate Public Works and the Road Dept. effective November 1, 2007. 5-0.

Discussion of the LARP agreement. 1 road from each district is on the list:Hutchinson Road, McKinley Road from Hwy 19 to New Hope, Hollonville Road, and roberts Quarters from 18 to Old Lifsey Springs. Pike will get $109,000 from the state next year.

Discussion of road abandonment: Hebron Road, Nixon Road, Pullians Road. These roads were abandoned by not closed which means that they are passable but the county no longer maintains them. Land owners on these roads will be notified and will have recourse available to them. Mr. Jimmy Swift (no relation to Parrish) advised that they had no problem with road abandonment but will fight closure. 5-0 authorization for attorney to research abandonment. Pullians Road will be abandoned except for the stretch by Bottoms Nursery.

EXECUTIVE SESSION at 11:25 p.m. for Pending and/or Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A § 50-14-2(1) and Personnel pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-14-3(6) including additional personnel for recreation.12:05 a.m. back into regular session. The county attorney was authorized to look into a settlement of SBJ vs Pike County. Commissioner Parrish Swift reiterated that the Executive Session had been amended prior in the meeting to discuss additional Recreation personnel. Motion and vote was taken to reflect this. Motion to adjourn about 12:08 a.m.

Town Hall Meeting: Joy Walker asked about amending the Executive Session. John Hoover suggested that the county look into a matching funds 401(k) or similar instead of the step raise. Doug Rounds advised that Planning Commission is asking for a concept plan so they won't have someone come before them with a commercial idea but no plan. Becky Watts suggested giving 5, 10, 15 year certificates of recognition to employees for work with county. There is a plan in place for employee of the quarter that will get rolling after the Personnel Policy is instituted maybe by October 1st. Ended at 12:12 a.m.

8.1.07
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First Reading of the Budget

The first reading of the FY 2008 Budget was held on Monday, July 23, 2007 at 3:30 p.m. The Board of Commissioners had originally scheduled a Special Called Meeting for July 18th at 3:30 p.m. but it was moved to July 19th at 3:30 p.m. The July 19th Special Called Meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum. The 1st reading of the budget must be held before the scheduled budget workshops can be held on July 24th, 26th, and 27th.

Budget workshops were held this week. The second reading of the budget will be at Tuesday's Regular Call Meeting at 6:30 p.m. I have a copy of the Capital Improvements Workshop on tape but will probably just upload the minutes from all of these meetings after Tuesday Night's meeting and let readers see them firsthand.

The next regular called meeting will be on July 31st at 6:30 p.m. All of these meetings will be held in the Board of Commissioners Meeting Room located beside the Sheriff's Office.

It's not as easy as it looks to keep up with Pike County politics!


I went to the 1st reading of the budget. Some changes were made in the numbers but the 1st reading of the budget had Pike County at a rollback of .003%... which means that our taxes will basically stay the same as last year... from the Board of Commissioners' half of the budget anyway.

I have not seen or reviewed the budget from the Board of Education. Approximately one half of our taxes are set by the Board of Commissioners and the other half is set by the Board of Education.

All of the department heads were dressed in a suit and tie or Sunday attire for the women. They looked very professional. I will elaborate more on the meeting at a later time. Copies of the budget are available for public review in the library, the courthouse and in the Board of Commissioners Office. A copy of the Capital Improvements Element is at the BOC Office.

Here are the highlights from the first meeting. Evidently there was a lot of heavy equipment that was not being taxed because it wasn't on the books. That has been remedied. And I don't understand exactly how it works but this year, the tax on heavy equipment will be paid now instead of waiting until the following year after buying it so this brings revenue on this year's budget.

The final tally on the budget is $9,662,720 for Pike County. There was a discussion on how much to put into contingency this year. There was only $250,000 last year. Just about every bit of that will be spent by the time this budget year is complete. 3 month's operating expense or 10% of budget. This year's bills have to come out of this year's budget and cannot be paid in next year's budget. Contingency is supposed to be for unforseen expenditures. $350,000 versus $250,000 contingency. BOC will have $350,000 in contingency.

The landfill was closed at some point without consulting with the state so we are paying for methane monitoring. CM Steve Marro advised that it will cost about $100,000 by the time it is done.

Also discussion of fund balance. Fund balance is currently at $650,000. Pike County took in more tax money this year than anticipated which helped our past 10 month budget tremendously.

Discussion of safety training program for the county. OSHA says that everyone must be CPR certified. Looking to do a chainsaw safety training program too.

Group insurance is going to change from our current provider. United Healthcare offered through ACCG is currently $70,000 less than BCBS. Found out that ACCG runs all of the projected numbers for insurance now. If we go with healthcare offered through another carrier besides ACCG then Renee will have to spend hours putting numbers together. Will go through ACCG on this.

Discussion about a CFO for the county. Certified Financial Officer. Several counties have this position. Budgeting about $62,000 for the CFO. Can go with less but you get what you pay for. CM wants someone with a Master's Degree. Also want a receptionist for the BOC office. Budgeting $21,500 for that position.

Registrar's Office will go from $7 to $9 an hour. Currently getting a flat fee per day $60 but some of those days can be 12 or 14 hours depending on how elections go. 4 elections and 1 runoff are expected next year. And we will have a Special Called Election to fill Rep. Mack Crawford's State House Seat in the new year as well.

The Board of Equalization will have 2 new members to train.

It is a re-evaluation year for the Tax Assessor's Office. Budgeted a professional to re-evaluate all land, cruise to get timber--licensed foresters have to do this--re-eval all land and commercial/industrial building values including county buildings. Possibly do a business personal property re-eval. This person is going to re-eval county buildings at no extra charge for the county.

Building and grounds is down $50,000 this year but will grow over next couple of years. Mike Betts is working on a maintenance schedule for the county. Will need one or two employees in the future.

7.28.07
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AGENDA FOR THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
JULY 11, 2007
9:00 AM

Commissioner Jake Garner was not there. Rob Morton was there as the County Attorney. Nancy took the minutes and recorded the meeting. Several additions and deletions. An executive session was added for purposes of pending litigation and for discussing Fire Dept and Rec Dept personnel. The County/Recreation Dept Grant to develop a park and recreation reserve for Pike County was taken off of the agenda too.

There was a bit of a riff at the beginning because BOC member Parrish Swift had put the Fire Dept part of the SPLOST on the agenda for the last meeting and thought it had been pulled because he wasn't able to attend. It wasn't and Tom Tyree was there to answer questions about the remaining money in SPLOST.

(Note from the Editor: The following is from my 6.26.07 write-up: "Fire Chief Tom Tyree was present to answer questions on SPLOST that Commissioner Parrish Swift placed on the agenda. Advised money for bond is in the bank earning interest. Sent out a bid for fire stations and while 3 companies had expressed interest, no bids were received. Will resubmit the bid because at least one company has expressed continued interest in bidding but got tied up with another project in June. Bid is for (3) 50 ft by 80 ft steel buildings with 6 inch concrete slabs with plumbing and (1) 80 ft by 120 ft building with 6 inch concrete slab with plumbing. Sealed bids will go to BOC by July 19th. Advised that 2nd District is masonry and can be added onto at a later date.

SPLOST expenditures have been tracked and placed in a document for the public. Fire Dept has spent its money on tankers, 41 breathing apparatuses (under equipment), and trucks all as specified in our current SPLOST. The trucks should be ready around August. Allotted $1,600,000 with $364,462 remaining to build fire stations." End of my notes from last meeting.)

The bid package has been put in the Journal Reporter and is on the web. CM Steve Marro is not happy with the specs for the Fire Station and said that he and Nancy (secretary for the BOC) have fielded 20 or 25 calls from potential bidders that say they cannot place a bid without architectural drawings to go by. Asked the BOC to recall this bid and bring in an architect to draw up the Fire Stations. Need something to compare apples to apples. A wrench got thrown into the process when the CM said that Impact Fee says replace Station 3 and 6 and build a new Station #8 in 2009. Need to have County Attorney look into deeds for the stations too. Impact Fee $ plus $371,000 (that's what was said in today's meeting not $364,462 from the sheet that I received in the meeting) will bring the amount to $400,000. Motion to have an architect to prepare bid documents and specs for Hollonville and Lifsey Springs. Approved 4-0.

Two meetings of interest are coming up. A Special Call Meeting for the 1st reading of the budget will be held on July 18th at 3:30 p.m. A second Special Call Meeting will be on July 24th at 9:00 a.m. about the Capital Improvements part of the budget. This will be part of the budget workshop.

The CM advised that the Board of Education may not have its portion of the budget ready by August 1st. The School Board portion of the Budget may not be ready until the week of August 10th. So this means that even if the County part of the budget is ready, if the entire budget is not ready it cannot be turned into the state. The CM wanted the public to be aware that the BOC has done everything possible to get this budget ready by the August 1st deadline to avoid the penalty.

(Note from the Editor: All in all, it's a small penalty to be paid if the budget is late as I have said before. The firm insurance rollback numbers will not be available from the state until August 1st and if the BOC wants to bargain with BCBS about employee insurance, that can't be done until after the August 1st deadline either. Something about they're on a different fiscal year than we are.)

Discussion about the 6% raise last year and what to do for employees this year was intermingled with discussion about insurance. Employees got 4% raise plus 2% step increase last year. Step increases are given on anniversary date of employment as a way to reward longevity with Pike County. Employees were supposed to get 4% total last year because their insurance went up drastically. (I'll have to pull info from last year around budget time to see how much insurance rates went up.)

A motion was made to do away with the step raise and just give a 4% raise across the board. It died for lack of a second. Question was then asked what is wrong with a 2% raise and a 2% step raise? The County Attorney reminded the BOC members that this can be discussed at the upcoming workshop. CM will have several choices to review at the workshop.

Commissioner Parrish Swift asked about unsolicited items being thrown on citizen's driveways and whether there is anything that the BOC can do about this. The County Attorney is going to look into littering laws through the state. Also asked about a county ordinance with an enforcement clause.

Commissioner Tommy Powers said that he has received several complaints about Shackleford Road. Discussion about No Thru Truck signs and enforcement. Todd Goolsby working with Highway Department to grade every road in the county based upon usage, traffic count (2 1/2 trips per house per day). The GA Dept of Transportation has cancelled the 2002 paving permit for McKinley Road. Will be giving counties a lump sum amount of money to do paving from now on instead of going on a road by road basis. Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked about Concord-Hollonville Road being a truck road. If it is, the signs need to come down. Going to look at New Hope Road and enforcing No Thru Trucks too.

County Attorney was asked to look at Nelson Memorial Funds process. Advised that funds do not go to government entities. Each area has a beautification plan and an official representative. Nixon Road on hwy 18 by Neal Church has never been abandoned even though not been county maintained. More than one request to maintain and repair. It will cost a lot to repair but it would be negligent to abandon the road at this point. The need was expressed to have a directory of roads. Shivers Road came up during this discussion. Never any formal abandonment procedures on Shivers Road. Still a county owned and maintained road. The BOC and CM was advised that there is a list of roads in the Comprehensive Plan.

Flat Shoals and the boat ramp are being addressed by the BOC. The CM went out and took pics for the BOC to view at the meeting today. LOTS of discussion about all aspects of the boat ramp and rock and signs on the right of way and parking on the right of way and a letter from a year ago too. Due to concern about self-help with the removal of rocks, the BOC authorized the County Attorney to send a reply to Walker Chandler.

There was a motion made in a prior meeting about parking on the right of way, but the County Attorney was emphatic that the BOC did not enact an ordinance. (Note from the Editor: An ordinance would have required two separate readings in two separate BOC meetings and would been required reading at a Planning Commission meeting too.) A question was asked about rock as a requirement of E and S. It was stated that there is an E and S plan that calls for them to redo slope to create proper E and S flow down to the river because of the expanded ingress and egress lane.

Correction 7.12.07: (Note from the Editor: E and S stands for Erosion and Sedimentation Control. I stated last night that there was a document that called for this, but after asking further questions, it sounds like projects are checked for E and S on a regular basis because of state regulations and that there is not an official document that is issued on every project stating the particulars of a project. It's just part of the project documents stating what will be done to ensure that there is proper erosion control.)

County Attorney Morton made recommendation that he be given authority to respond to Mr. Chandler's letter and suggested that the BOC respond about this issue within the next couple of meetings. The issue was clouded by parking on the right of way or on a road by road basis with a need to have a study done on this for the entire county and Chairman Fry wanting the county to buy the land on the north side of the bridge for a county park. Parking on the right of way is an issue because of the accel-decel lane, but it seemed to get a bit out of hand to me when it concerns the entire county.

The BOC is concerned with intent about the rock and seems to be looking into the matter. We will see what the intent on the rock is from the paper trail that has inevitably been left in the past with this project.

Mileage was discussed. It has been paid at a rate of $.035 per mile up until now. The IRS went up in February to $.048 per mile. It was discussed at a previous meeting but no decision was made. This will be discussed at an upcoming workshop.

The prospect of buying the old Bear 92.5 Radio Tower was discussed. The asking price is $45,000. It is 270 feet tall with a small building situated on 4 acres of land. A conservative estimate puts the value at $85,000. The radio antenna on top of 911 needs to be moved and this might be a solution. The recent lightning strike has cost the county $28,000 so far and that does not include everything. Our GIS section may cost around $10,000. John Cauble was the Transcomm representative present at the meeting who discussed the tower with the BOC. Motion was made to buy the property and land for $45,000. Approved 4-0.

Citizen Don Bailey spoke before the BOC about animal control. Animal Control meeting on Saturday, July 21st at 12 noon at the Pike County High School Cafeteria. Representatives from the Meriwether and Upson Animal Shelters, Dolly Goodpuppy, the Lamar-Barnesville Humane Society, and a service dogs organization have advised that they will attend this meeting for Pike County citizens. This is a way for citizens to find out information and voice their concerns about animal control.

SE Regional Director Richard Rice from the Atlanta Humane Society could not attend because of the flooding out in the midwest. Don asked about whether Pike has an Emergency Disaster Plan and whether animals are included. I will add Don's information on the letters to the editor page when he emails it to me. CM asked for all of the information that has been provided to the BOC by Don Bailey.

2nd Reading for Mid-State Striping. Approved 4-0. Public Works Director Todd Goolsby is working with Mid-State Striping to do the work on the roadway--ditching, cutting back, etc.--needed to get the striping done and bring down the costs on this project.

Lance Corporal Jeffrey Walker lost his life during the Iraq War on May 14, 2007. Bill Shivers has spoken to Jeffrey's family about adding his name to the Veteran's Memorial on the Courthouse Square. This is located on the corner across from the soon to be open Country Moose. It flies the Stars and Stripes, the State, and the Prisoners of War Missing in Action flags. Mike Conner of Conner-Westbury Funeral Home wants to donate the services of their engraver to come down and add Lance Corporal Jeffrey Walker's name to the Memorial at no cost to the county. 41 names of veterans are on this monument at the present time. Jeffrey's family have said that it would be an honor to have Jeffrey's name among the heroes that gave all for our country so we can have freedom. Motion to grant permission for Lance Corporal Jeffrey Walker's name to the Memorial. Approved 4-0.

Bill Shivers also asked the BOC to encourage Pike County to either participate in or have our own memorial services on special veterans days during the year. Motion of intent for Pike County to participate in Memorial Services for our veterans. Approved 4-0. Recommendation to go through the Chamber of Commerce on this.

The Library Board of Trustees asked for additional funds to jumpstart lognterm services. $6,000 will provide salary and benefits to open the library on Mondays. Also asking for donations for books on cd and tape for commuters to use. Motion to give the Library Board of Trustees the $6,000 in funds needed to expand library hours beginning in August. Approved 4-0.

2nd reading requirement change for minor issues that should not require 2 readings such as National Teacher's Day. Currently we cannot adopt National Teacher's Day without 2 separate readings. Any ordinance that enacts new law will still require 2 readings. Attorney Morton will draw up an ordinance for this. Of course it will require 2 readings at separate meetings for this ordinance in order to be legal. Approved 4-0.

Freeport Exemption Program is something through the Chamber of Commerce that has been approved for the past 5 years. Clarification that this is an extension and not an ordinance. Approved 4-0.

The stricken item about the Recreation Authority grant is about 112 acres to create a county park on the north end of the county. It will be a 100% to 75% grant through the state according to Chairman Fry. Members of the Recreation Authority Board had some concerns on this was given for the reason it was pulled from the agenda.

The 3 appointments to the Recreation Authority were John Hanson, Marvis Watts, and Paul Whitmire.

Pride of Pike 4th of July Celebration will receive $12,000 in funding for the 2008 4th of July Celebration. Kudos were given to the Chamber for the Celebration. It was bigger than last year though traffic will have to be dealt with for next year. There was a fire call and the trucks couldn't get out of the parking lot because of the cars parked everywhere. Motion to include $12,000 in the 2008 budget for fireworks for the Pride of Pike 4th of July Celebration. Approved 4-0.

Executive Session for Pending litigation including Fire Dept and Recreation Personnel. 11:37 a.m.

After the Executive Session, the County Attorney asked the BOC to enact a moratorium on accepting applications for rezoning an Special Exceptions in residential districts including A-R Agricultural-Residential because the Citizen's Advisory Task Force Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances is currently working on this section of Pike County's Zoning Code. (Note from the Editor: I am on this CATF Subcommittee and verify that we are working on this part of our ordinances. Those applications that have already been accepted should go through the process without any bumps in the road.) Motion was made for a 90 day mortorium on accepting applications for rezoning and Special Exceptions in residential districts including A-R. Approved 4-0. Meeting was adjourned.

7.12.07
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AGENDA
SPECIAL CALL MEETING
July 2, 2007
5:00 PM

All were present except the county attorney at the meeting tonight. It's too bad that this decision had to be made tonight without the advice of counsel. The Interim County Manager had been getting paid for mileage driving back and forth from his house to work every day and the BOC voted tonight to make him pay back that money.

Roosevelt Willis, Tommy Powers, and Jake Garner voted in favor of paying this money back to the county. Steve Fry voted against it. Parrish Swift ended up abstaining because he didn't have enough information on the matter to make a decision. Parrish asked for further fact-finding to find out if ex-county manager Tommy Burnsed was getting paid mileage for driving his vehicle back and forth from home. Chairman Steve Fry urged the BOC to look to counsel before making this decision as well and the majority did not listen to that advice.

Here's the deal. Sean Townsend did the finances while Tommy Burnsed was CM and said that Tommy was getting paid for mileage for driving his own personal vehicle back and forth from home to work and out and about in the county in lieu of being given a county car. At the meeting, I couldn't fathom an employee getting paid for mileage back and forth from work, but the CM is not just any employee. CM's are given special items as part of their employee package because they are pretty much at the beck and call of the BOC and the citizens of this county. It's not a 40 hour a week job that you check out of when you leave the office. Having a county car means that you drive it back and forth to work and don't use it for personal errands.

I listened to this tape and have read both Tommy's contract and Steve Marro's contract. Tommy's contract does have a vehicle allowance clause in it and does not stipulate about his mileage from home to work. Steve Marro's contract does stipulate that he will not compensated for driving from home to work. The amount of money that we are talking about has not been said in an open meeting either.

After listening to the tape of this meeting, I say that this is a matter of interpretation by the current Board of Commissioners on whether or not the interim County Manager Sean Townsend should have received compensation for driving back and forth from work. Yes, he was the interim CM and yes, he was still trying to do his regular job at the same time in which he was required to be at work for a certain amount of time. The fact of the matter remains that he was the interim CM and the same perks that were given to Tommy were given to him because no one advised that they were going to change the contract for Sean Townsend.

The motion from the August 25, 2006 Special Called Meeting that states as follows: "Commissioner Davidson made a motion to immediately terminate County Manager Tommy Burnsed for the cause being: altering of county documents, for making sexual and racial comments and remarks, and misuse of county property, and also, to appoint Mr. Sean Townsend as interim County Manager until the board can advertise for a permanent County Manager. A second was given by Commissioner King. 3-0 vote." And I won't even begin again on the allegations contained in that document above because I've read the document and felt that while a few of the statements were about genuine concerns, a large part of the accusations were coached. (Well, someone helped to put that 3rd person paragraph in the middle of a particular statement when someone got the chance to take it home and work on the accusations!)

And Commissioner Davidson amended the agenda at the August 29, 2006 regular meeting to make the following motion: "Commissioner Davidson made the motion to give Mr. Sean Townsend his salary and gas allowance as Interim County Manager and that we advertise as soon as possible for a permanent County Manager and also for the Commissioners to decide the salary and qualifications for that position. A second was given by Commissioner Powers. 3-0 vote." A listen to the tape will find a discussion of how it is only fair to give Sean the CM pay as well as a retroactive gas allowance. Retroactive back to the previous Friday that is.

And let me interject a bit of common sense into this argument that the interim CM should repay the county for mileage back and forth from his home to work. We are looking at the fact that motions were made without stipulations on mileage and I don't remember any post-stipulations though I trust this is being investigated. The amount cannot be more than a couple of thousand dollars.

It will take more than a couple of thousand dollars to take this to court if the employee contests this new stipulation on mileage that he received while he was interim CM. Some on the BOC may say that it is the principle of the matter. I say that the BOC needs to learn to be succinct in its instructions. We cannot keep making rules and then trying to make them retroactive and expect the court costs not to pile up.

Why this issue had to be dealt with at a SCM when there was not a further investigation of the facts is beyond me. If Tommy got this perk in his contract and Sean stepped into Tommy's job at the request of the BOC with the understanding that he would receive the same benefits and compensation as the former CM, he should not have to pay back money that he was given for a car allowance while he was the interim CM.

This should be thoroughly investigated.

7.4.07
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Recreation Authority Workshop

It was good for the Board of Commissioners and the Rec Authority and Associations to sit down in the same room to discuss issues if for no other reason than for the BOC to be aware of what the Rec Authority does as it oversees the different Associations.

It began with a powerpoint presentation by Chairman of the Rec Authority, Jeff Kenerly. The powerpoint showed the BOC that the Rec Authority started out with one baseball field many years ago and has grown to what it is today. The county has assisted with some of the grading but the original construction and most of the work since then has been done by volunteers.

The Pike County Recreation Authority now provides baseball, football, softball, soccer, basketball, and cheerleading programs for children in this county to participate in. Recreation parents and visitors purchase local gas, dine in local restaurants, and regularly spend money that contributes to our county taxes.

Think about a 20 player football team with at least one parent bringing each child and visitors to come watch the games and it adds up to a lot of people. Last years stats on the teams are as follows: Football -175 children, Cheerleading -173 children, Baseball - 405 children, Soccer - 180 children, Basketball - 90 children, and Softball - 221 children.

Emphasis was stressed for a Community Center. The Community Center was excluded from the last SPLOST because the Recreation Authority was going to be getting money from Impact Fees, but Impact Fees cannot be used to build a new facility. Impact Fees can only be used to add something to an existing facility.

"We gotta do something with these kids," said Anne Elliott. "We have to keep them busy." Consensus is that keeping kids involved in sports keeps them out of trouble because they are not out looking for something else to get into. (Kids also learn respect for authority, how to follow rules, self-respect, and many other valuable lessons from being involved in team sports.)

The biggest discussion last night centered around the fact that there is Impact Fee money for the Rec Dept. but the County Manager (CM) Steve Marro does not how to distribute it because we have a Rec Dept and a Rec Authority. The other problem is that the Rec Authority owns the land rather than the County owning the land that these facilities are on. (Note from the Editor: The County turned the land over to the Rec Authority so they could get a DNR Grant from the state to improve the facilities. Discussion was held about maybe turning the land back over to the County. Rec Authority minutes can be access by going to the Authorities link above and clicking on their link on the Authorities page.)

The Authorities gave financial information to the BOC last night that showed what they had earned from fees and fundraising and what that money had been spent on. So many think that the Associations (Baseball, softball, etc.) are making a killing with these fees and the money is being pumped back into the facilities and the kids through improvements to the fields, scholarships for the kids that cannot pay the fees, and all of the equipment, paying the bills, etc.

Discussion was held last year about turning the land back over to the BOC but the BOC decided against it. Lights, water and maintenance are the only things paid by the BOC on the facilities. BOC pays salaries for workers as well. The question was answered that if the Rec Dept and Rec Authority were merged into the Rec Authority, workers would still be allowed to get benefits through the county because they would be full-time employees.

The Rec Authority has not finished its audit this year because the DNR grant had to be included in last year's books. Rec Director Shawn Shoats (not Townsend!) advised that the Rec Authority has been waiting on info from the state about this grant and that someone is coming down next week to close the books and do the audit for last year.

Problems with the Basketball program were discussed. There have been scheduling problems with the school calling late in the afternoon to advise Director Shawn Shoats that he cannot have the facilities on the same evening as a game. This has happened for the past 2 years and the need for an indoor facility is great.

In the end, the BOC was asked to look at the facilities that the kids are playing on. Impact fees can be used to take care of a septic tank problem. There will be a follow-up with Bill Ross about whether a basketball facility can be built if the current facilities with the school system are not adequate. There will be a follow-up on whether the Rec Authority will keep the land or turn it back over to the BOC so it can be part of the county's capital improvements. And the questions about Rec Authority/Rec Dept will be discussed until resolved.

No decisions could be made at the workshop last night, but it is always good for there to be an open dialogue on issues between the BOC and the Rec Authority.

7.3.07
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Board of Commissioners Meeting
JUNE 26, 2007
6:30 PM

(Note from the Editor: The meeting last night was short as far as Board of Commission meetings go. It began at 6:37 p.m. and the BOC went into Executive Session at 8:30 p.m. I got a rundown of the town hall meeting from citizen John Morrison and will include it at the end of the write-up.

Needless to say, animal control was at the top of the agenda. And despite citizen cries that taxes are too high and nobody wants to add anything extra to our budget that may be unnecessary, but I don't see how the BOC can avoid adding something for animal control on this budget. Some may say that the Sheriff should be responsible for Animal Control in our county, but I say that the buck stops at the feet of the BOC.

We need someone who has attended animal control training to handle our animal control. If there is a chance that Pike County can go in with Upson County in an agreement somewhat like the one that Williamson has with the Animal Shelter in Spalding County, I say that it is imperative that we look into it and get the ball rolling.

I backed down on this issue once before because I thought it would cost too much for implementation, but working with another county might be cost efficient. One person has already died because of roving bands of dogs in this county. We can't afford to wait any longer on the issue.)

Present at the meeting: Steve Fry, Roosevelt Willis, and Jake Garner. Nancy Cook to take minutes. CM Steve Marro present. Rob Morton present as council.

The BOC seemed pleased with the reports from board and authorities in the county. The Recreation Authority will be spending the $3,000 in proceeds from concession sales from Mike Grant's tournaments on ADA Compliance. This will be separate from SPLOST proceeds for ADA compliance and will go through the general fund to ensure separation.

The 2008 Budget proposal is complete except for the Capital Improvements element. (Note from the Editor: I received this information by Open Records Request. It's 26 pages long and costs $6.50. It is not readily available in an email format because converting it to Word or Excel distorts the layout. Readers will need to go to the Library, the Courthouse or to the BOC Office to view this document without charge or readers can make an Open Records Request at the BOC office for the actual document.)

Discussion on reimbursement for mileage in private vehicles. IRS pays $0.48.5 per mile. Pike currently pays $0.35 per mile. Questions about how costs were figured into the budget for each department. This will be resolved before the budget hearings.

District 4 Commissioner Jake Garner advised that still having some water line complaints about right of way and no flaggers. The county is working with agent for the engineer. The BOC is working to address this issue.

The county attorney advised that the county is moving forward on complaints about Fawnbrook Subdivision. Citations will be issued. Also advised that moving forward with revisions (see Calendar of Events July 12th) and explained that it is taking time to go through the process to get our roads striped through the state because the document is 30 pages with attachments.

Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked the County Attorney to advise the public of the amount of money that Morton and Morton is being paid to represent the county. Morton advised that former CM Tom Painter approached them about working for the county. Was awarded a contract in 2003. Int CM Tabitha Weaver gave them a raise. CM Tommy Burnsed asked them to track their hours working for Pike County and proposed an increase on November 1, 2005 that was approved. Morton and Morton received the increase but did not ask for it and is not asking for an increase now.

(Note from the Editor: CM Burnsed began tracking charges through new line items in order to find out what was actually being spent by each department. At one time, no one knew exactly what was being spent on our attorneys, lawsuits, and whatever else was lumped into that same category.)

Susan Boggs presented the DFACS budget and was present to answer questions. DFACS has to present a new budget to us because our calendar year is different than theirs. Advised that the federal government pays 1/2 of their budget and Pike pays the other 1/2. $11 million dollars has come into Pike County to families, children and elderly services. Their entire budget request is in the FY 2008 budget.

Fire Chief Tom Tyree was present to answer questions on SPLOST that Commissioner Parrish Swift placed on the agenda. Advised money for bond is in the bank earning interest. Sent out a bid for fire stations and while 3 companies had expressed interest, no bids were received. Will resubmit the bid because at least one company has expressed continued interest in bidding but got tied up with another project in June. Bid is for (3) 50 ft by 80 ft steel buildings with 6 inch concrete slabs with plumbing and (1) 80 ft by 120 ft building with 6 inch concrete slab with plumbing. Sealed bids will go to BOC by July 19th. Advised that 2nd District is masonry and can be added onto at a later date.

SPLOST expenditures have been tracked and placed in a document for the public. Fire Dept has spent its money on tankers, 41 breathing apparatuses (under equipment), and trucks all as specified in our current SPLOST. The trucks should be ready around August. Allotted $1,600,000 with $364,462 remaining to build fire stations.

Public Works was allotted $400,000 and spent it according to SPLOST specifications on a grader, backhoe, truck, etc. These were all state bids so lowest price except for one that came down a few thousand because it was all that we had in the bank for Public Works. Each of these items will have something on them showing that they were bought with SPLOST funds.

ADA Compliance was allotted $250,000. City of Zebulon got $15,000. Paving and signs at the Recreation Field was supposed to get the rest. There is $196,376 remaining as of 6/26/07 but all of the repairs have not been completed to date. There is work being done to this extent.

(Note from the Editor: The Citizens Advisory Task Force subcommittee on SPLOST asked for public accountability with SPLOST expenditures. This is exactly what we were asking for.)

More later.

(Note from the Editor: Scan the front page for articles on the 2008 FY Budget, Animal Control article about Jody Harper and Don Bailey, the SNACS Inc. Spay and Neuter Clinic held this month in Lamar County, and the Letters to the Editor Page for Don Bailey's editorial and a link to the statistics that he has gathered about animal incidents in Pike County over the past year.

If you have an opinion on a county, state or national issue, send me an email using the link to the editor at the top of the page. Thanks for reading the Pike County Times.com!)

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Board of Commissioners Meeting 6.13.07

(Note from the Editor: The Special Called Meeting on June 11, 2007 at 3:00 p.m. for the purpose of discussing the County Manager Contract--see article below--had the addition of pending litigation added to it. No decisions were made in Closed Session and the meeting was adjourned at 3:56 p.m.)

The meeting today was fairly short as BOC meetings go. We were out before noon. Though it could have been sooner. Hopefully we will have a meeting to get all of the boards and the BOC on the same playing field with our zoning through the Overlay District and more.

The Water Authority and Recreation Authority received kudos from the BOC for their reports. The County Manager (CM) gave a report on storm damage in the BOC office and the 911 center. No calls were missed by 911. See story below. The BOC phone system was 10 years old and discontinued by the manufacturer making parts difficult to obtain and expensive. New phone system would have voice mail and auto attendent. Bill Shaver from Lighthouse Communications will overnight the equipment to the office and install it tomorrow. Motion was approved to move $7,995 from Professional Services Attorney and Suits to Repair and Maintanence for the repair of the BOC phone system with the condition that ACCG be contacted since it is our insurance carrier to determine if it is covered by our insurance.

CM advised that Mid GA Ambulance Service contract supposed to run until December 31st with increase in rates on April 1, 2007 but has agreed to contract with Pike County until our year end at current price and then modify existing contract with us until October 31, 2008 without a rate increase. The rate increase will begin on November 1, 2008 if we continue with them.

Mid GA Ambulance Operations Manager Brian Moseley addressed public and BOC on citizen complaints. Mid GA is looking to be as available to public as possible by attending public meetings of city councils and 1st Responder Group and BOC. Moseley disputed complaint that Mid GA has not hired enough local people. See story dated 5.30.07 below. Advised that trying to coordinate AVL system with 911 and conference calls through 911 so everyone hears the call simultaneously.

Moseley addressed complaint that ambulances are going too slow by saying that wrecks in ambulances are one of the top 3 reasons for lawsuits against ambulance providers. Mid GA has a 10 mph maximum over the speed limit as a policy. The only reason that an ambulance would travel faster than that would be if there was a threat of imminent life or death situation. Mid GA has a responsibility to obey all traffic laws even with lights and siren. An ambulance going 80 mph doesn't stop on a dime if someone pulls out in front of it, he said. Joe Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Mid Georgia Ambulance, gets an immediate email if any ambulance goes 80 mph so the issue can be addressed as it occurs.

Now CM Steve Marro wanted to keep a tight schedule on the budget in order to get it approved and to the state by the August 1 deadline. That schedule will be revamped because of the lightning strike. Everything will be done by Friday but that will not meet the requirements for publication. See those rules at the link below. Thank you to County Attorney Rob Morton for insisting that the BOC follow these rules exactly. I applaud the sense of urgency from the CM but agree that an abundance of caution is needed with our budget.

State Rules for Budget Adoption

District 2 Commissioner asked CM to look into getting 1 defibrillator for the ballfield and another for the softball field that would only be accessible by trained umpires.

What is a defribrillator?

Roberts Quarters Road complaint on the dirt side. Asked the CM to work with Public Works on plan of priority on road priority basis. Commissioner Swift said that he had received a compliment from a citizen about one of our roads being maintained with ditches sloped, etc. CM said Todd Goolsby, Public Works Director, is doing a good job.

District 3 Commissioner said that he had received a complaint on Gresham where the pipes are going in for the Water and Sewer Authority. He went out and viewed the road and said it was not as bad as he expected. Just the curve sign down and that was supposed to go back up this morning. Said same resident that complained of a blocked driveway called back and advised that gravel had been laid on the driveway.

Quick rundown of the rest of the meeting. Building in the county is down 40% from last year. Motion for County Attorney to act on Mid GA Ambulance contract. Approved 4-0. Impact Fee Intergovernmental agreement is being worked on by CM. BOC signed off on county audit. Approved 4-0.

(Note from the Editor: That 40% is huge to me and I have been digging into impact fees in past minutes and in discussions from both sides of the fence. I wonder if impact fees had an impact on growth and if so, how much of an impact did they have? Does impact fees affect all businesses including non-profits? I have been told that it does.

How far should we as a county go to ensure that new development pays for the services that it will use? And should we look back into impact fees with regard to non-profits?)

Don Bailey made 3rd appearance about the need for animal control in Pike County. He asked for an animal control facility and for BOC support to go through process similar to Meriwether County. (His editorial and animal control stats are up right now.) Asked for use of BOC meeting room for public session on animal control. Asked for BOC, CM, and County Attorney's attendence when this is scheduled as a workshop.

Contract with City of Griffin was discussed. Commissioner Swift asked it to be on agenda and wants to terminate service with City of Griffin if it won't put Pike in jeopardy. There is a meeting on Friday morning between Public Works Director Todd Goolsby, Keep Pike Beautiful Director Virginia Sanford, the CM, and Dependable Waste about curbside pickup in the county.

(Note from the Editor: The more I think about this, the more it reminds of how Upson County went to mandatory county garbage pickup against the wishes of many citizens. Citizens were told that they were not allowed to use a vendor that they were already contracting with if it wasn't the mandatory county trash vendor. Citizens were also told that they could no longer carry their trash to the County trash facility--which costed much less than curbside pickup--but "had" to use the county mandated garbage program.

Mandatory garbage pickup in the county was "supposed" to stop the illegal dumping in Upson County. I find it hard to believe that irresponsible people who dump their trash on back roads would abide by a county ordinance that requires them to pay for a county garbage pickup. They break one law by dumping their trash. What does it matter about one more?

I have been told that countywide mandated garbage is not on the burner in Pike County. I hope not.)

Approved letter of support for the Middle Georgia Community Action Agency 4-0. CM and attorney to negotiate with Detention Center for amount that we pay to get rid of their trash as part of their contract. Approved 4-0. Motion to approve Proposed FY 2008 Griffin Circuit Judges Budget and Proposed FY 2008 District Attorney’s Office Budget 4-0.

The public hearing was a fiasco. It was supposed to be a rezoning and turned into a lengthy discussion about building issues and the overlay district and parking in the back etc. Developer gave concessions in the letter to the BOC not to build a gas station, etc. and R-15 zoning with written condition for 1,800 square footage. Motion to approve with concessions. Approved 3 with 1 abstention-Commissioner Willis because so convoluted.

Executive session 11:17 a.m. Open Session 11:40 a.m.

Motion to hire Steve Marro as CM. Approved 4-0. Motion for Chairman to authorize agreement on behalf of BOC. Approved 3-0. It's a 3 year agreement too by the way. Motion to end meeting 11:42 a.m.

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AGENDA
REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING
MAY 29, 2007
6:30 PM

(Note from the Editor: This meeting lasted until almost midnight last night. I'll get a short synopsis up as much as I can and then try to finish it tonight. Hopefully we won't see any more meetings this long in the future.

This next statement may be stepping on toes, but I'm going to make it anyway. I think it is a waste of Nancy's time to transcribe our meetings word for word--especially when the meetings are four and five hours long. I know that a mistake was made with a past secretary that prompted this change in the minutes from meetings, but my opinion is that it would be a better use of her time to ask for detailed minutes--definitely more than we had in 2006 minutes but much less than transcribed word for word. The new CM and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) should be able to review her work and find a happy medium. I have 11 pages worth of notes front and back and I can't imagine transcribing it word for word without a system in place that transcribes the words onto the screen and then requires checking to ensure that nothing was transcribed incorrectly.

For what it's worth, that's my opinion. There are links to the 2006 and 2005 minutes on the BOC link at the top of the page and a link to the Transcribed minutes just below that on the same page. Let me know what you think.

And Congratulations to Steve and Gina on the birth of their baby.)

Commissioner Parrish Swift asked a question at the beginning of the meeting whether or not it would be feasible for the BOC to disclose the actual case when discussing pending litigation. He stated that he thought it would be a way of the BOC being as open as possible to the public. What it came down to was that it is a policy question and it is not required by law. (Note from the Editor: I appreciate the many questions of this nature that have been asked. It shows a desire to be open to the public.)

The BOC was pleased with financial reports this month. Said that they reports were very thorough and that one entity in particular--no name that I heard--had given financials all the way back to December of 2006. Gas usage has been caught up. The reports were approved 5-0.

(Note from the Editor: There is a Special Called Meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. to review the CM contract. the public was not notified that this was the reason that the CM was not appointed at this meeting, but at least the BOC is taking this process slowly.)

$17,800 was moved from contingency to cover $3,700 on the CM salary. Discussion on how Finance Director Sean Townsend was paid as interim CM. Consensus that Sean was paid his regular salary plus extra for filling the CM position in the interim but was not paid 2 salaries.

$110,416.65 was moved from contingency to ambulance service because there were 2 missed months of payment to CARE ambulance in 2006 for services. Finance Director Sean Townsend audited the payments to be sure. (I include the term "Finance Director" though I don't remember a vote on changes in the BOC office personnel or anything about a Finance Director at all. Maybe it was a slip of the tongue.)

(Note from the Editor: It was two slips of the tongue. I put in an inquiry to the CM on the new position in the office of Finance Director and put in an Open Records Request for all of the positions in the BOC Office. It turns out that the term "Finance Director" was a slip of the tongue. There is no position of Finance Director. Sean is Accounting Technician, Martha is Accounts Payable, Renee is Payroll/Benefits Technician, and Nancy is Administrative Assistant. I have been insured that the payscales in the office are in line with what they should be.

This matches with the minutes of the March 28, 2006 state as follows: "Commissioner Powers made the motion to set the job titles for the Commissioners Office to the following: 1) Accounting Technician / Payroll, Insurance, Human Resources, Accounts Receivable 2) Administrative Assistant, Records, Receptionist 3) Accounting Technician / Payables, Liability Insurance 4) Accounting Technician / Finance. A second was given by Commissioner Avery. 5-0 vote."

And it alleviates my concerns about the Weaver lawsuit. Thanks to those in the BOC office who answered my questions and took care of my Open Records Request.)

There was not enough residual money left in SPLOST to pay for the bulldozier--about $30,000 short because $400,000 was a guess that was given at SPLOST rather than taking bids that probably wouldn't have been good anyway because of the rising costs in everything because of gasoline prices and no oil refineries being built and that's another story that's coming shortly--so the BOC voted to buy a single dump truck and trailer so the Road Dept can haul the backhoe.

2008 budget notices sent out for budget submission to department heads, authorities, and constitutional officers. June 4 and 5 department heads are meeting with the Int CM. The Int CM is asking everyone to substantiate on paper the reasons for increases in their budgets. Constitutional officers workshop with BOC is upcoming. 8 depts to make proposals to BOC with more than 1 workshop in the works. The Int CM wants to get the budget to the BOC by June 13th if the temporary rollback rate comes in. This is tentative on the attempt to get rollback rate by July 1st. (Note from the Editor: Pike County has not met the filing date deadline in a long time. However, the penalty is minimal for missing the deadline compared to dollars saved in past years by waiting for the insurance rollback numbers. Hopefully the number that the Int CM is working to get will be a good one to plug into the budget because the insurance rollback numbers affect every aspect of the budget. The citizens should appreciate all of the work that is going into this by everyone involved. This problem could be alleviated if the BOC would consider changing our fiscal year from the current July 1st to July 1st. This will require a great deal of work from the BOC, CM and all depts in county government, but the problem will continue every year.) Currently the BOC is scheduled to hold a Special Called Meeting on July 11th to set milleage rate in order to make the August 1 deadline.

Past Budget Adoption Dates

October 9, 1996 for 1997 Budget October 31, 1997 for 1998 Budget
October 14, 1998 for 1999 Budget October 13, 1999 for 2000 Budget
October 7, 2000 for 2001 Budget October 30, 2001 for 2002 Budget
October 29, 2002 for 2003 Budget September 10, 2003 for 2004 Budget
September 10, 2004 for 2005 Budget

Here is a bit of information to get everyone ready for the adoption of the County Budget.

State Rules for Budget Adoption

Huckaby Road has to be finalized and paved by August 1st and back to the COT. This has dragged out for over 2 years. Waiting on Surveyor to finish this. This might have costed tax payers 1/4 of a million dollars by the time it is complete because of the extreme length of time from start to finish.

Workshop is in the works with Rec Dept, Rec Authority, and Rec Associations to ensure that they are providing the best service to kids and county.

BOC Concerns are as follows:

District 1 Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked how the Chairman's duties and authority differ from that of the rest of the BOC. Fry advised that Chair runs the meeting, has emergency power if not all BOC can be reached, and state agencies traditionally send information to the Chair for dissemination to BOC.

District 2 Commissioner Parrish Swift advised that Cook Road is still a problem and advised that an abandoned vehicle is at Cook and Howell Roads. Said he was looking for results.

District 3 Commissioner Tommy Powers had no special concerns.

District 4 Commissioner Jake Garner continues to get complaints about Rapid Communications since the changeover. Said he had received some complaints about work on the waterlines including no proper flagging. Tabled til later in the meeting when representative from Carter and Sloope can address the problems. Garner has received numerous complaints on Fawnbrooke Subdivision and residents were present at the meeting to show dissatisfaction with their road. Went through the history of this subdivision including stop work orders, 2 letters from Inspector and a follow up letter by certified mail in January 2007 to developer that has not received a response. Dedication of road has not been accepted by the county but it will take more than the $5000 bond that was required on the road to fix the problems. A motion was made to direct the County Attorney to pursue charges against developer. 5-0

Public Hearing on Cell Tower Acquisition on the property of Ms. Elizabeth Rumble. This is a high priority area for Verizon and the tower is slated to be up by July. No opposition. Approved 5-0.

Shivers Road was back on the agenda. An extensive look was taken in its history and the determination is that there were no formal abandonment procedures for the road. This becomes a private property dispute based on public information that the county has been maintaining this road for years.

Title Loan Business was conditionally approved with a landscaping plan at the last meeting. Pictures were brought before the BOC for final approval. Commissioner Willis brought information before the board in the form of an opinion column from the Albany Herald about the Supreme Court cracking down on Payday Loan companies. Approved 4-1 with Willis dissenting.

Discussion of Cell Tower Acquisition behind the High School on property owned by Chuck Tarkenton. Called for a propogation study on this tower with added coverage from the tower on Ms. Rumble's Verizon tower.

Road striping contract for 342 linear miles of roads was bid out 1 year ago. There were 2 signed sealed bids per the BOC's instructions and a verbal bid. The low bidder was Mid State Striping. Controversy over whether 2 Rivers was required to turn in a signed, sealed bid per the BOC's instructions. Moot point because they were were not the low bidder. $ has to be spent by 2007 or we will lose it. The county will have to cut the right of way and make preparations for the striping because the bid was just for the striping.

Public Works Building was bid out and we got two bids. One was thorough and included the plumbing costs in the estimate on the concrete slab building and the other was not. Discussion was held on whether to continue the building as a joing Road Dept and Rec Dept project. The BOC decided to spec out a building for Road Dept only with the $40,000 allotted for building and the Rec Dept keeping their $36,000 for their own building.

Tom Sloope arrived from Carter and Sloope to address water line complaints. Advised that there is a scheduled meeting tomorrow morning of things that contractor needs to take care of and a pre-construction meeting on Friday. The contractor has not been paid and has proceeded on this project ahead of schedule with the approval of the USDA and the Water and Sewer Authority. Heard complaints of no trench box, no proper flagging, downed stop signs, proper disposal of banding, etc. The BOC asked for a report at their next meeting. Commissioner Garner advised that he will make a motion to cease work on waterlines if issues are not addressed.

Chris Curry asked the BOC to match the $500 for the past Pimiento Festival that was given by Zebulon because it supports the county. Fry advised that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Chamber of Commerce and Arts Council are all county sponsored agencies. Approval to give $500 from contingency. 5-0

Tripp Brisendine gave the BOC a Civic Campus proposal for puchase of the old Elementary School. He thanked the BOC for the support and cooperation with the TE Grant that was used to renovate downtown sidewalks, etc. and the no interest loan for 3 years that was used to renovate the West Side buildings. "Let's continue the roll," he said. The DDA would like to purchase the Old Elementary School and bus facility from the Board of Education for the appraised value of $168,000 using the $134,000 that had been previously loaned to the DDA with no interest for 3 years to renovate the West Side Buildings. The remaining $34,000 would need to be in next year's budget. The DDA would then work to renovate the building and eventually sell it back to the BOC minus the $168,000 that would have been paid for it already.

Mr. Brisendine fielded a lot of questions on this project including why should the county pay for a building and land that we've paid for once already. Same goes for a leasing situation from the DDA. It will take about $968,000 total to repair the building. It will be sold to the county for $800,000 since initial $168,000 would be paid already. Commissioner Powers said that he thinks this is a good thing but that spending a million dollars on a building may not balance against taxpayer needs for paving roads, etc. since we haven't even striped a road yet. Not against the project, just against the timing of the project. Inflation, condemnation, and a possible courthouse mandamus were discussed. Tripp stated that the DDA would back another project as long as there was a plan to get behind.(Note from the Editor: We're looking at a possible mandamus on the Jail AND the Courthouse. Another idea that makes sense is moving the jail to a larger location and building a facility that is large enough for expansion with a Magistrate courtroom in the facility like Upson and Lamar County. Moving the jail would provide land for a judicial complex that could expand on the continuous acreage that the county owns in that vicinity. The BOC needs to address both issues, advise whether SPLOST will be involved in either project, and make a plan for the future for the county so we know where we're going.

Update 6.14.07: Frank King explained how to do a bond issue on a big ticket item in the June 14, 2006 BOC meeting. The school bond sale was done this way and had to approved by the BOC even though voters had already approved it. Using this same process, the BOC could get started on a big ticket item now and then use the upcoming SPLOST for the other big ticket item. At that time, we could have invested for 5% and bonds were at 3.8%) A workshop with the BOC and Dr. Duncan and Board of Education was suggested.

The BOC went into Executive Session at 9:12 p.m. and came back into Open Session at 10:23 p.m.

Luckily Tom McQueen from the GA Dept of Transportation stayed until Open Session. He discussed long range plans and stiping and an upcoming federal aid projects for Molena Walking Trail, County Farm Road (2009-11) and the intersection of Hwy 18 and 74 (2011). Advised that asphalt is available in Taylor County if we have the equipment. Long discussion on prioritizing and paving roads. Approval to sign federal aid projects. 5-0.

Peruse the Post Agenda til I can fill in the blanks.

1. approval to amend the agenda to include the following:
a) move Executive Session to item VII
b) move SE 07-05 to after County Attorney Report
c) move Ralph A. Smith-Discussion of Animal Control to Public Comment

2. approval of the May 9, 2007 Regular Monthly Meeting minutes as corrected

3. approval to accept reports from County Departments and County Authorities as submitted

4. approval of the purchase of a Sterling dump truck w/dump body and a Hooper 12 ton trailer in place of the bulldozer that was to be purchased with S.P.L.O.S.T. funds

5. approval of budget amendment to move $2000.00 from Repairs-Contract SVC to Vehicles M & R

6. approval of budget amendment to move $11,100.00 from Contingencies to Supplies-Other

7. approval of budget amendment to move $110,416.65 from Contingencies to Ambulance Service

8. approval to pursue charges against developer of Fawn Brook Subdivision

9. approval to allow Special Exception SE 07-05 Verizon Wireless to place a Telecommunications tower on the property of Ms. Elizabeth Rumble

10. approval to allow Title Loan Business on property owned by Thomas Tire

11. approval to award striping bid to Mid States Striping in the amount of $255.359.40

12. approval for Steve Marro to meet with Todd Goolsby to come up with specs for new public works facility. This is not to be in conjunction with the Recreation Department/Authority at this time.

13. approval for Pike County to pay $500.00 from contingency for the Pimiento Festival.

14. approval to allow public comment

15. approval to exit Open Session and enter into Executive Session at 9:12 pm

16. approval to exit Executive Session and re-enter into Open Session at 10:25 pm

17. approval to sign the Proposed Project Summary for Use in Developing the FY 08-11 STIP for GDOT District 3

18. approval of the FY 2008 Budget for the Griffin Circuit Public Defender Office

19. approval to postpone until the June 13, 2007 meeting the appointment of Robyn Underwood to do monthly audits

20. approval of REZ 07-04 Vonda K. Blount has requested rezoning of her property A/R to C-2

21. approval of SE 07-07 Andrew Prior has requested a Special Exception to allow a wind powered electrical generator on a tower on his property.

22. approval to postpone Amendments to Code of Ordinances:
156.006: Definitions: Home Occupation
156.027: Special Exceptions: Special Use Permits

23. approval to adjourn the Regular Monthly Meeting at 11:53 pm.

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What's the Big Deal about Hiring a County Manager?

The selection of a County Manager (CM) may not seem like a big deal, but in a CM form of government, it is the equivalent of hiring a CEO to run a Fortune 500 Company. The Board of Commissioners (BOC) compare to the Board of that Company because the BOC is not allowed to run the day to day operations in our county government without an interim CM or a permanent CM. (Note from the Editor: This history is important to me because we have to know where we've been in order to choose the best path to follow in the future. Feel free to drop me an editorial if you have a different take on this.)

Pike County entered into a CM form of government on March 27, 1998. The legislation was signed into law at the State level and the BOC passed Section 30.03 in our Code of Ordinances to specify the job duties of the CM. Keep in mind that the BOC chose for the CM to be the CEO for Pike County and in doing so, placed limitations on themselves. And if there was no CM, there would be a County Administrator who does essentially the same job with tighter restrictions or the BOC members would have to take portions of county government and be responsible for their sections essentially taking on a full-time job as a Commissioner.

A torrid relationship has existed between the BOC and the CM form of government. Allegations of misconduct, harsh words at meetings, resignations and terminations have been all too common in Pike County since its inception in 1998.

On September 1, 1999, Joe Walter became the first CM with an annual salary of $45,000. After a short 15 months, Mr. Walter tendered his resignation to the BOC at a Regular Call BOC meeting on December 13, 2000 citing irreconcilable differences between himself as CM and the BOC.

David Patton was hired in March of 2001. The sparks continued to fly between the CM and BOC. Mr. Patton was fired at a Special Called Meeting on July 5, 2002. The position remained vacant through the end of 2002.

This firing of the CM and the lack of an interim CM appointment for this long period of time resulted in the first lawsuit against the county by the Coalition for Responsible Government (CFRG). (Note from the Editor: Any time you hear the words "Interlocutory Order", this first lawsuit is what people are referring to.) Here's the long and the short of it. A Consent Interlocutory Order means that the BOC and the CFRG came to an understanding through their attorneys and the BOC agreed to abide by certain terms stated in the Interlocutory Order.

Those terms include the following: 1) The BOC will establish and maintain a practice of posting agendas for all public meetings prior to the meeting. The agendas will "reasonably and accurately identify the matters expected to be considered at the public meeting...in order to inform the public as to the true topics expected to be discussed at said meetings." 2) The original CM legislation was modified through the attorneys of both parties and is now law. Modifications include: a) clarification of the duties of the CM including the understanding that the CM has exclusive authority over all personnel in the county except those in elected positions and their offices. The BOC has hire and fire authority over the CM only; b) a vacancy in the CM position mandates that the BOC "will expeditiously proceed with due diligence to appoint an interim CM within 4 weeks of the vacancy of the office of CM" and that the BOC will advertise for the permanent position of CM "at the first available opportunity after the vacancy of the office of CM". (Note from the Editor: This explains why Chairman Fry used the words that he did after the withdrawal of Bramblett's application for CM.) and c) the parties agree that no county commissioner serving at time office of cm becomes vacant may be considered for either interim or permanent cm. boc also agreed to follow certain guidelines insure there would future violations open records meetings act. hb 1819 became law in 2004. HB 1819

Thomas Painter began his stint as CM in May of 2003 with a salary of $52,000 per year. The power struggle between the BOC and the CM continued with CM Painter being fired at a Special Called Meeting (SCM) in much the same manner as CM Patton. The SCM was advertised over a holiday weekend. Ironically, this firing happened around the same time that the first lawsuit was being finalized. This firing resulted in Lawsuit number 2 by CFRG. More on that in a moment.

CM Painter was fired after just 8 months on the job. County Clerk Tabitha Weaver was named interim CM at the same meeting in January of 2004.

Interim CM Weaver resigned after 9 months as interim CM in October of 2004. Tommy Burnsed was then named interim CM in October of 2004. Tommy Burnsed was named as CM in February of 2005 after the position had been open for more than a year.

Lawsuit number 2 was settled on April 20, 2005, and resulted in a Consent Order in which the BOC agreed to show a specific reason for Executive Sessions. For example, Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the County Manager or a county department in order to inform the public of the topic of Executive Sessions. The BOC also agreed to "specifically and accurately identify all matters that are reasonably expected to come before the Board for discussion, consideration, or action".

CM Burnsed was suspended in August of 2006 pending a DA investigation that found no criminal activity. He was subsequently terminated during an Emergency Call Meeting on August 25, 2006. (Note from the Editor: I won't go into the fact that it was held with less than 2 hours notice and a document that was withheld from numerous Open Records Requests for several months before finally being released to the public only after the State Attorney General's Office got involved.) Sean Townsend was named interim County Manager in October 2006.

The Board of Commissioners (BOC) made the names of the 3 finalists available to the public at the Special Called Meeting at 4 p.m. on April 24, 2007: Mr. Charles D. Akridge; Mr. James R. Bramblett; and Mr. Michael McBrier. The BOC announced James Bramblett as the finalist at the 6:30 p.m. meeting over the objections of many in the audience while stating the James Bramblett would be in an interim CM position until the 14 day notice of the three candidates was complete according to Open Records Law.

At a SCM on May 8, 2007, this was the 14th day, Finalist James Bramblett withdrew his application for employment in Pike County. There was no Interim CM from 5:30 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. the next morning because the BOC had appointed a finalist as interim CM instead of waiting the 14 days after the announcement to announce a finalist.

On May 9, 2007, the BOC recommended Steve Marro from the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Authority as our Interim County Manager for the next 14 days until a finalist is named. The three names of finalists include: Steven A. Marro, Michael McBrier, and Jerry Rome Presley. Each will undergo the criminal background checks and other requirements for consideration for this job.

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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING MAY 9, 2007 9:00 AM

The Board of Commissioners (BOC) met on May 9, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. All 5 commissioners and Attorney Tom Morton were present for the meeting. Nancy Cook was present to take the minutes. The Commissioners allowed the invited guest, Beth Brenner from Neighborhood Services Center, to speak and went over the reports from the commissioners and departments before going into Executive Session. Ms. Brenner had to leave a prior meeting due to an executive session that was moved to the beginning of the meeting.

Ms. Brenner gave a packet of information to the BOC with suggestions on how to prepare for emergencies through home preparation and agency preparation. Ms. Brenner is the County Developer for the Middle Georgia Community Action Agency, Inc. Pike Neighborhood Service Center. she can be reached at 770-567-8116. For more information on pandemic flu, go to www.pandemicflu.gov

Rapid Communications is at the top of the BOC list and that is not a good thing. Not returning phone calls, not picking up boxes, being rude to customers on the telephone, and refusing to work with customers when they haven't had all of their cable channels for several months and no one would return numerous phone calls to fix the problem... The list goes on. The BOC is not happy with the situation as they continue to get calls from angry Rapid Customers. At this rate, Rapid won't get that 2nd reading any time soon. (Note from the Editor: Who says that ordinary citizens can't influence their government?!)

Nancy has revamped the list of county boards and authorties that receive taxpayer dollars from the county. The new format is easier to read. No group was mentioned by name but some are still not turning in information. (Note from the Editor: This is a public document that can be obtained from the BOC Office by filling out an Open Records Request.)

Commissioner Roosevelt Willis presented concerns from District 1. He asked Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker about the situation at 2nd Street in Concord. The situation has not changed from the last meeting. Becker was in school last week and has lost one building inspector from his office and has another in his office in school this week. Willis asked what Wendell needed in his office and was told that he needs another building inspector plus a code enforcement officer.

Commissioner Parrish Swift had no concerns for the BOC from District 2.

Commissioner Tommy Powers presented concerns from the 3rd District. He said that Kendrick Road Pipes washed out 1 1/2 years ago and we were supposed to start clearing roads after that. Would like to see roads finished instead of letting them go. Commissioner Jake Garner told him to put in a work order with Public Works.

Title Loan Used Car and Truck Sales Lot was approved in a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Willis voting against it with the condition that the business will bring a landscaping plan back before the BOC for approval.

As a result of Executive Session, Steve Marro from the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Authority has been named as our Interim County Manager for the next 14 days until a finalist is named. The three names of finalists include: Steven A. Marro, Michael McBrier, and Jerry Rome Presley. Each will undergo the criminal background checks and other requirements for consideration for this job.

The County Audit was brought to the BOC by Auditor Robyn Underwood. Mrs. Underwood had to leave the meeting during Executive Session but her findings will be turned over to the State for review and will available online through a link on my website in the next couple of weeks. The BOC will review the findings and bring this before the public at the next meeting.

Citizen Steve Mills advised the BOC that gravel and a county road sign was put on an easement that is on his property. Requesting that the sign be removed.

There were two positions open for the Board of Appeals. Chairman Brent Taylor and Ron Snowden had served a 3 year term. Thank you for your service for Pike County. 6 applicants applied to be on this board. Bonnie Byrd Gardner and Ron Snowden were appointed to the Board of Appeals.

Motion to adjourn at 11:55 a.m.

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SPECIAL CALL MEETING MAY 8, 2007 1:30 PM

The meeting this afternoon was well attended by citizens from Pike County. The Board of Commissioners(BOC) went into Executive Session at 1:35 p.m. and held a discussion with Attorney Tom Morton on the applicant for County Manager (CM), James Bramblett. After some time, Mr. Bramblett was called into the Executive Session to speak with the BOC.

The BOC returned to Open Session at 2:20 p.m. and Chairman Fry announced that Mr. Bramblett had withdrawn his application for employment in Pike County. Chairman Fry advised the Board is working expeditiously to find a CM as well as appointing an interim CM.

Discussion was then held on how long Pike County will be without an interim CM. Consensus is that it will be until at least tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Questions were asked about appointing an interim County Manager at this meeting, but Attorney Tom Morton advised that was not on the agenda and would have to be dealt with at tomorrow's meeting.

Chairman Fry then advised that the BOC is working expeditiously to find an interim County Manager and County Manager. Chairman Fry said that the BOC would go back to the pool of 40 applicants. One name had been withheld from the public but the BOC would find out if this person still wanted to be considered for the position and make that name public too. There is a possibility of appointing someone local as the interim CM.

The Board allowed public comment where many questions were asked about what would happen next in this process. Citizens urged the BOC to wait the 14 days after announcing the final candidates so we would not be stuck in this position again. Thanks was expressed to Becky Watts from Pike County Times.com for providing the information to the BOC. Citizens urged the BOC to carefully research the candidates and not depend on citizens to do this work.

The question was asked, "Would you all have made this decision if this had not been made public?" Commissioner Swift said that information in print prompted the Special Called Meeting because the 14 days was an issue. "Consensus was to get together and discuss pertinent issues," he said. The meeting was adjourned at 2:44 p.m.

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New County Manager History

Jim Bramblett has been chosen as the new County Manager for Pike County. After doing some research into Mr. Bramblett and previous positions that he has held, some troubling information has come to light.

The City of Garden City, Georgia is not included in the resume to the Pike County Board of Commissioners. Employment at Fairfield Plantation was not included either. Both were short-term employment periods.

Pike County Times obtained the letter to the Mayor of the City of Garden City in which Mr. Bramblett had enclosed his application and resume for employment as the City Adminstrator of the City of Garden City. Mr. Bramblett was employed from October 26, 1998 until around December 21, 1998.

Pike County Times obtained the Georgia Department of Labor Appeal that gives the decision released on June 8, 1999 with regard to Mr. Bramblett's employment with the City of Garden City, Georgia.

Pike County Times obtained memos and a performance evaluation that were included in Mr. Bramblett's personnel file while he was employed by the Polk County Board of Commissioners as County Manager. These are all Open Records Documents.

I am disturbed by the fast pace that is bringing Mr. Bramblett in as Pike County's new County Manager and hope that the Pike County Board of Commissioners is doing a thorough check of Mr. Bramblett's past employment history.

A google search on Mr. Bramblett and his past employment in Bainbridge, Decatur County started this story. I hope our Board of Commissioners will reconsider their decision to hire Mr. Bramblett.

Added 5.7.07: Pike County Times also obtained a document that shows Jim Bramblett's termination from Thomas County.

There is a lot that we as a county do not know about Mr. Bramblett. I add this information to the website to ensure government accountability to Pike County's citizens in light of the rush to hire Mr. Bramblett over the objections of citizens at the previous BOC meeting. The BOC should take time to examine our county manager candidates and not just take a resume at face value.

The Post-Searchlight was the local newspaper for Bainbridge at that time. News writer Barbara L. Parsons sums up Bramblett's exit from his position as Decatur County Administrator in this article. The ordering of a $68,985 metal building without Board approval was the final straw for the Decatur County Board of Commissioners.

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BOC Regular Called Meeting April 24, 2007 6:30 p.m.

Several changes were made to the agenda including the movement of the Executive Session to the beginning of the meeting. I mention this first in my write-up because I have serious concerns about the Board of Commissioners having a meeting without an attorney present. The situation at Centerfield was discussed with some conjecture on what could have prompted some text changes to our ordinances to be presented to the past Planning Commission meeting.

Thank you to Commissioner Jake Garner for stating the obvious that we are in litigation on this and shouldn't be talking about it. Same goes for Wendell Becker for using caution on this. I got the impression that others at the table tried to still the conversation as well. Regardless of what has been said in the past, if an item is in litigation and the BOC has been advised not to talk about it, Commissioners should not act like children and conveniently forget that they aren't supposed to talk about it. The County Attorney was very adamant that the BOC should not discuss this.

The BOC voted that all Board and Authorities that do not turn in monthy reports and financial reports--as required by the BOC for over a year--will not receive taxpayer dollars from the BOC. 5-0

Nancy is reworking the chart of Authorities and Boards so that there is adequate tracking of who turns in reports and financial reports as required every month. Citizens can file an Open Records Request to look at this information by going to the County Commission Office.

The County Manager CM presented the Catapillar Report to the BOC for review. It will be on the next agenda after BOC has had the opportunity to review the information.

District 1 - Advised a lot of road striping complaints. CM has not been able to reach Dane or Steve and has not received return calls from them.

District 2 - Asked about plans for fire stations. Tom Tyree is trying to get matching grants. CM is trying to get info to help with the bid process.

District 3 - McKinley Road question, Shackelford Road Complaint, and a complaint about a junk yard on Chapman Road.

District 4 - Question on Reversion Process to Wendell Becker, Director of Community Development. Becker is working on this. Question on Gish complaint-advised that a citation is the next step. CM to ask Public Works to check on the ditch. Clarification on McKinley Road that still lacking one signature. (Note from the Editor: Apparently this fell in the crack after the firing of the past CM... Hopefully the firing cycle has ended with the addition of 2 new commissioners.) Question about bent posts on Buchanan Road. Tom Lacey, Chairman of the Water and Sewer Authority, advised that the posts will be fixed. Caution on trench boxes too.

No County Attorney Report. Motion to enter Executive Session about 6:50 p.m. Back into session at 7:43 p.m. Attorney Morton stayed for the results of the Executive Session and then left the meeting.

Attorney Morton advised that the hiring of a department head requires the approval of the BOC. 5-0 vote to hire Todd Goolsby as the new Public Works Director. (Note from the Editor: The search tool at the bottom of the Home Page is a tool that is easy to use as you research items on this webpage. Make sure you hit the highlighted button so you can easily see what you're searching for.)

The County Manager (CM) got approval to run an ad for Public Works Director at the March 27, 2007 Regular Called Meeting. It was supposed to get a final check from Commissioner Garner and then go into the papers. (Note from the Editor: I looked at the April 11st and April 18th Pike Journal Reporter newspapers and did not see this advertisement. These ads are usually prominently placed in the Pike Journal rather than placed in with the other advertisements. I have asked for dates and papers where it has been advertised because it has been advertised in the past.

Here is info on Goolsby from Open Records Request: Experience includes Spalding County Public Works from Sept. 1993 - present, Pilkenton Construction June 1986 - September 1993. Other qualifications include Class A CDL - Class 5, can operate various pieces of equipment including backhoe, track loader, dozer, etc. Goolsby is currenty the Public Works Officer 4 in Spalding County and Commissioner Jake Garner is his Supervisor.

And I won't beat a dead horse here, but this looks bad on Pike County to hire someone for Public Works Director that is currently working under a Commissioner. The BOC will have to be careful to ensure that everything goes through the CM instead of commissioners going down to Public Works and supervising in any way, shape or form. Our form of government is clear on who has the ability to hire and fire and direct county employees and lawsuits have reiterated this legislation.)

Motion to hire James R. "Jim" Bramblett as County Manager contingent on background checks and the passage of 14 days as required by the Open Records Act. He will receive a $75,000 salary with $500 a month car allowance and other normal benefits such as ACCG retirement package. The BOC will also pay for a place to stay for 30 days until he can find somewhere in Pike County to live. (Note from the Editor: This motion came as a shock to most in the room because only one citizen was at the 4 p.m. Special Called Meeting where the BOC announced the final 3 candidates for this position. It was stated that the new CM asked for a 3 year contract. That would be wise in any county but is very wise in our case because our track record can only improve from here!)

Citizen Carol Bass questioned this decision and was adamant that we need a CM but have to follow the law as stated in the Open Records Act. "I just don't want to see our county break the law," Bass said. Attorney Morton advised that no provision under Title 36 or 45 OCGA prevents the hiring of a CM before that 14 day period has ended. Citizen Jimmy Bass asked when the new CM will come to work and was advised that it will be at least one week before he can come here, maybe longer.

Ex-officio DDA member Don Collins asked for some information about the candidate. (Note from the Editor: Here is info from Open Records Request. Jim Bramblett was County Administrator in Decatur County, Bainbridge GA 2005-06 and cited differences with that BOC as the reason for the short stay there. County Manager in Polk County, Cedartown GA from 2002-05, Zoning Tech on Coweta County Planning Department in Newnan GA from 2001-02, Self-employed from 1997-02, County Administrator in Coffee County, Douglas GA from 1993-97, County Manager in Cherokee County, Canton GA from 1991-93, County Manager is Thomas County, Thomasville GA from 1984-1990, and Assistant County Administrator in Dougherty County, Albany GA from 1974-1984. Bachelor of Business Administration and Associate Degree in Business too.) Chairman Fry reiterated that the hiring will take place no sooner than 14 days from today. If he comes to work sooner, he will work in an interim capacity. 5-0 vote.

Public hearings began after this.

(Note from the Editor: In December of 2005, the Subdivision Ordinance was enacted in Pike County. It defines a major subdivision as any division of property into 4 or more smaller parcels. A minor subdivision is a division of property into 3 or more parcels. And a division of property within a three year period after a parcel has been divided into a minor subdivision automatically makes it a major subdivision. There is no division of property for family members. The past BOC said that this was a necessary measure so they would be aware of divisions of property in Pike County.)

The Tucker family asked to divide a previously divided parcel of property so the three families can move into Pike County. No one spoke in favor or in opposition to this division of property. Motion to approve as recommended by the Planning Commission and Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker. Approved 5-0.

A Special Exception was asked for buildings to be built behind Johnson Battery just outside of Zebulon. Dee McLeroy spoke for the owner and advised that the topography was a problem for one building so two buildings had to be built instead. Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker read the 5 criteria that are considered by the Board of Appeals for a Special Exception. (Note from the Editor: These criteria are listed on the Board of Appeals page that is linked to the County Government page.) No one from the public spoke in favor or in opposition of this Special Exception. Motion to approve as recommended by the Board of Appeals and Community Development Director Wendell Becker. Approved 5-0.

Thomas Tire has a parcel of property immediately next to it that has been a used car lot in the past. A small business owner wants to put in a used car lot and a Title Loan, Inc. store. The Board of Appeals voted to deny this application based on points 1 & 2 of Section 156.027 of Pike County Zoning Code. The BOC voted to allow comments from Board of Appeals members on this parcel.

BOA member Carol Bass cited 2 businesses out of a single building that is not normal in Pike but not required in Pike. Cited 51% ownership of property because Thomas Tire is leasing property to applicant. Said this normally would require a zoning change so it would belong to the person and not the property. Established that use will follow applicant.

BOA member John Hoover cited concern about loan office only being allowed in C1 and C2 zoning. Also cited 2 businesses on one parcel of property as a concern. Said that welfare of citizens is a concern. Said that this business could adversely affect citizens in Pike County.

One BOC member pointed out that United Bank has a repo lot and that loaning money is loaning money in his evaluation of the scenario. At this point, Cheryl Marshall, representative for Bonnie Wine, spoke up and gave some specifics about this business owner. Been in operation for 6 years in Franklin County. 6 vehicles repo'd during that time and only 2 vehicles not returned. 50% of Title Loan business in Forsyth from Pike and Lamar. Also advised that can't get small loans $50-$500 from the bank. Short term with vehicle as collateral. 16 pages of State regulation of Title Loans given to BOC. Interest rate up to 25% for the first 3 months. After that, only allowed to be 12.5% per month. Title Loan companies in Upson and Spalding already. Has been told this is basically the same as Pawn Shop procedure.

Chairman Fry pointed out that this cannot be denied because it is not specifically listed in our Code of Ordinances. A BOC member asked the Zoning Administrator what his opinion of the situation was. Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker would not render his opinion on this situation though he had freely offered it on the three other parcels including the one that was postponed earlier. Board of Appeals member Carol Bass advised that our Ordinance requires Becker's opinion.

(Note from the Editor: Section 156.371 (page 297) of Pike County Code lists the powers and duties of the Zoning Administrator. There is a link to the Code of Ordinances from the County Government page on the top right. Click on Pike County.15 to read the actual text that I am referring to. Our Ordinance requires the ZA to: "(N) Research and make reference to the Zoning Code in connection with each and every application received for variance or special exception and to make written recommendations to the Board of Appeals on each such application as to whether: (1) The granting of such variance or special exception would result in an encroachment on existing land uses or Zoning Districts already established on adjoining or nearby neighborhood properties protected by the Zoning Code from such encroachment; (2) Sufficient authority exists in the Zoning Code to allow the Board of Appeals to grant the variance or special exception; (O) The written recommendations of the Zoning Administrator will be made a permanent part of the application file and a copy provided by the Zoning Administrator to the Board of Commissioners for their file..." And the same requirement is made of the Zoning Administrator for the Planning Board.)

Public comment followed: In favor: none.

Opposition: Citizen John Morrison voiced concern about predatory lending. "Is this the kind of thing that this county wants to make a special exception for?"

Citizen Ken Riley voiced concern about bright colors from Jonesboro stores. Ms. Wine advised that her store would be professional looking with one sign with company name and phone number on it and a sign for the car lot on the fence as it has been in the past. No outlandish colors.

Commissioner Willis asked a question about lending amounts for vehicles and advised that he had seen some people lose pretty nice cars to businesses like this. Two bids were opened on the new building for Public Works. Universal Steel out of Duluth-$69,372 total buildout of frame without plumbing or electrical. This is an important omission since the building will have a concrete slab floor. McLeroy Land Development Corp. $89,100.00 including electrical and plumbing. Add $4,200 if a performance and payment bond is required.

.motion to postpone until may 9, 2007 boc meeting. discussion included advisement from zoning administrator becker that this matter does not have be readvertised. approved 4-1. garner opposed.

Two bids were opened on the new building for Public Works. Universal Steel out of Duluth-$69,372 total buildout of frame without plumbing or electrical. This is an important omission since the building will have a concrete slab floor. McLeroy Land Development Corp. $89,100.00 including electrical and plumbing. Add $4,200 if a performance and payment bond is required.

Discussion of an Adult Entertainment Ordinance for Pike County. (Note from the Editor: This is not an urgent matter because we don't allow the sale of alcohol, but needs to be dealt with because of what is going on in Spalding County. A commissioner tried to get the sale of alcohol on a referendum several years ago and it comes up every once in a while because the county could make money off of the sale of alcohol by the drink at restaurants.)Citizen Don Collins made the suggestion to check with the City of Zebulon. Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker offered to give copies of ordinances from counties that he had to Attorney Dana Maine and Attorney Rob Morton.

Billy Paul spoke in public comment about a Planning Commission meeting and text amendments that would make Lot 1 of Brookstone legal under our ordinances. Said it is time to get into the enforcement stage of our code.

Commissioner Jake Garner advised that the BOC cannot discuss this matter because it is in litigation. Chairman Steve Fry and Commissioner Parrish Swift spoke on this matter anyway. Commissioner Swift said that he was only repeating things said from an earlier meeting. (Note from the Editor: Click on the pink button at the top of the page that says Transcribed Minutes for more on this. I don't want to talk about it anymore and I sincerely hope that all members of the BOC will abide by our legal counsel in the future.)

Citizen Jimmy Bass spoke on Pullian's Road. New Public Works Director is going to measure and see if the road meets code. Pullian's Road is higher than the Reservoir Access Road with a steep grade to get down to the Reservoir Road that cut it in half and a steep grade up to the other side of Pullian's Road. It could be an erosion problem and a mess every time it rains. Mr. Bass spoke for a minute on the Centerfield text amendment controversy. It's on the Transcribed Minutes page as well.

The official meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m. and then the Town Hall Meeting began.

Citizen Vernon Gray said that the BOC is left with no option but to declare the ballfield illegal.

Citizen Doug Rounds said that some employees doing the mowing for the county don't know how to go around road signs. Complaint about having to wait to use the compactor at the Transfer Station. Said that the best thing in 35 years is what we had before this with the big open dumpster.

Citizen Carol Bass asked whether Mid Ga Ambulance had to turn in a report to the BOC. Was told that it does. Thought is was a good idea for contractors with county buildings to buy materials local so we get the sales tax on these items. Said that the guy in violation (Centerfield) was essentially allowed to write county code. "We're for the children... teaching them to play ball... but the worst thing that we're teaching them is that if you're rich enough or powerful enough then you can break the law," she said. "That is injustice." She lamented that kids are seeing this fight.

There is a huge check on the wall for the DDA payment to the county for the renovated buildings on the square. Money hasn't shown up in coffers yet but is supposed to be coming.

Citizen Joy Walker asked about the status of the Old Elementary School building. Chairman Fry advised that things are going on and this will be addressed later. It did not fall into the abyss. Chairman Fry advised that there has been a meeting between School representatives and reps from the Board of Commissioners that was supposed to get to the bottom quicker than going through committees and clarified that it was "not circumventing authority."

Renovating the old school is "more alive than 3 weeks ago," said Fry. According to Fry, the new maintenance supervisor for the school system stopped leaks in the building by putting a tarp on the roof and made some other stop gap measures to save the building and there is even talk that the bus barn may be moved sooner than thought.

This town hall meeting added an extra 30 minutes or so to the meeting.

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REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING April 11, 2007 9:00 a.m.

Present: All commissioners, County Attorney Rob Morton, Interim County Manager Sean Townsend, and Nancy Cook recording minutes

Call to Order at 9:02 a.m.

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of minutes from past meeting with changes (Note from the Editor: Nancy had to transcribe the meeting word for word because of a past mistake that impacted today's meeting. More on that later on. 34 pages.)

Amend the agenda. 4-0.

No report from the Interim County Manager (CM).

Concerns from the commissioners include:

District 1: Commissioner Roosevelt Willis has heard complaints about the striping on the roads and a difficulty seeing the stripes when the roads are wet. Supposed to be a meeting with Dane Bishop about Hughley Road today so info supposed to be gotten on this today for next meeting. Where are we on bids on shop? Bids have been advertised with deadline for April 23rd. Mileage question for Sean Townsend. BOC advised int. CM Townsend to drive a county vehicle if he had to do any driving around in the county after he arrived at work. Question about Fire Dept. statement and the $200 for supplies. BOC asked that the $200 be itemized like the rest of the statement. Buyback on the mowers? The county bought new mowers about 2 years ago and have had nothing but problems since we bought them. Hydraulic problems specifically. And both the engine and mower manufacturers were pointing fingers at each other. Warranty up 1st of April. The manufacturer said with quality of service just to let them buy them back. Commissioner Powers asked a question about putting out to bid. Chairman Fry advised that there is no requirement to put out for bid because Wade Tractor has a state contract. Pike will end up getting a ditch digger from there sometime this week. No figure on buyback yet but should be a good amount considering that there are not many hours on them. We could put out for bid but probably won't come out any better than we are now.

District 2: Commissioner Parrish Swift asked about the status at the Transfer Station and the differences between Allied's contract to haul trash and that of the City of Griffin. Said that we can't dump the same things as before specifically commercial and demolition (C&D) waste such as shingles, concrete, wood, etc. County Attorney Morton advised that this contract is for solid waste only. Wood and construction materials are not allowed and that City of Griffin will contract with an outside source on this but that the contract is non-exclusive so they are not the only ones to provide this service. Discussion centered around Allied's taking C&D in the dumpster with the rest of the waste instead of separating it and whose responsibility it was to ensure that the two weren't mixed now and whether Pike will rent another rolloff for C&D, maybe buy a truck and haul it ourselves. Int CM asked to look into latter for next meeting. Question about dumping of C&D debris between soccer and softball fields and who gave authority to dump there. Question was asked if there was anything in writing on this and if it goes back to prior CM. Commissioner Willis advised that the decision may have come from a current source. I am checking into this. Question on fire stations and current SPLOST. Commissioner Swift does not want to depend on volunteers to finish out the stations because other projects have not been completed in this manner. "If we're going to do this, let's use SPLOST money and get it done," said Swift. Int CM advised that there has been talk of using inmate labor to cut costs and saving taxpayer money by using Fire Dept. volunteer labor. Also Fire Chief Tom Tyree trying to get matching funds through Disaster Preparedness. Words back and forth between Chairman Fry and Commissioner Swift on this matter. Chairman Fry even mentioned that we are already overbudget and may run out of payroll budget before the end of the year. Some line items are already over... (Note from the Editor: Chairman Davidson's budget has not done this county any favors. The tax payers are the ones who will suffer in the end because the past BOC went along with a bad budget that had nothing written in contingency for emergencies even after they were asked to reconsider that amount. And then there is the matter of an almost new, shiny red Fire Rescue Truck that wasn't in the budget...) Then the discussion centered around land for fire stations--specifically Brown Station and an acre that has been designated for the county and that a deed fo conveyance needs to be filed if this land has been given to the county. Even the Rec Dept made the BOC meeting with talk about bathroom doors, ADA compliance, and more. (Note from the Editor: I would think that Rec Dept items should have been discussed at a Rec Authority meeting or concerns directed to the Rec Director...)

District 3: No concerns at this time from Commission Powers, but he is recovering from surgery so we were glad to have him back at the meeting.

District 4: Commissioner Garner advised that on 362 West where the BOC has requested signs for a no turning lane and that the passing lanes be painted to prevent passing while cars are trying to turn, the DOT has not fulfilled Pike County's request. Maybe have to write a letter to our State Rep and to the DOT to get this fixed. The Int CM was asked to talk to Dane about this situation as well. Striping complaints here too when it rains. Complaints about cable service in Williamson. The complaints are bad enough (someone who hasn't had cable in 2 months, some that have asked for boxes to be picked up 2 months ago b/c went to satellite and are still getting charged for cable) that the BOC halted the 2nd reading of the cable franchise agreement. More on that in a moment.

9:43 a.m. Motion to exit open session into executive session. (This executive session was long and was needed, but special guests that were going to talk about pandemic flu and preparation for it and emergency situations in general couldn't stay. Hopefully they can address the BOC at a later point because the information that they had--which I will share after this is write-up is complete--is very important.

As a result of Executive Session, the County Attorney is going to rewrite language in the contract with the City of Griffin. This was dicsussed in Executive Session because it is a matter of pending and potential litigation. The clarification was made that C&D by Pike County was not discussed in Executive Session.

The motion was then made to strike the 2nd reading for Rapid Communications. A woman in Commissioner Garner's district called him with a complaint about Rapid Communications and the fact that she hasn't had cable for 2 months. Garner tried to call Rapid on her behalf, even using a personal cell phone number at one point, and no one from Rapid has bothered to return his call. Mayor Blalock advised that Rapid has fixed some of their problems, but there are many complaints in Williamson similar to this.

A bill has been received by the BOC from the city of Concord in the amount of $6500.00 for utilities, rent, etc. for the period of 2/2006 until 3/2007 for the use of the Strickland Building by Care Ambulance. (Note from the Editor: There was a bit of a discussion here pointing fingers at who ok'ed the contract and I got the impression that they thought it was a bit much, but the City of Zebulon is charging about $700 a month for the housing of the other ambulance. And one commissioner apparently forgot that he had been involved with those talks.) This was removed from the agenda until the CM can get a breakdown of the costs.

There are problems with the City of Griffin contract for our trash as I mentioned earlier. A suggestion was even made to tie Pullian's Road to the City of Griffin contract for trash. (Note from the Editor: For those of you who don't get the Griffin Daily News, this contract has been a point of contention with the City of Griffin as well.)

The right of way ordinance and whether we had one or not has been a point of contention in a couple of meeting. It has been cited with Centerfield, as well as other events in the county where cars are parked along the road on the right of way. This goes back to the May 2006 meeting where right of way on county roads was discussed. The tape for this part of this meeting is blank. Nancy researched all of the way back to 2001 on this. Commissioner Garner advised that when he made the motion for no parking on the right of way, his intent was not for the entire county. It was only for roads that were mentioned in the meeting.

An email from Walker Chandler about the boat ramp prompted this research. Public comment was allowed. Discussion came down to two things. There is access to the river 2 to 3 miles up the the road where there is adequate parking. This is where Calloway Gardens brings their boats now and the possibility that there are 2 to 3 acres on the other side of the bridge if the county (or an individual) is interested in buying it at some point and turning it into a park. There is a road there that used to connect the old bridge before the new one was built. The county attorney will respond to the letter.

Beth Brenner was supposed to speak on emergency preparedness and pandemic flu but had to leave during Executive Session.

Tommy Thompson was given a Tax Refund/Relief Application in the amount of $307.76.

Chiquita L. Glynn with the Victory Temple Ministries was supposed to speak on developing and operating a Women’s Center in Pike County. Not present.

Mayor Blalock advised that the DOT has to do additional work on the traffic signals. $15,000 to $18,000 will be taken from landscaping funds. Costs are being cut by getting younger plants to help out and other things too. In the end, there is $2,900 difference that needs to be taken care of. Suggestions made to ask for labor through the prison system and maybe even get permission from the Sheriff to have the trustees help with some of the work. The BOC accepted the change order to do construction work and match the City's contribution on this. A garden club had talked about taking care of the plants around the square and the City of Zebulon will take care of the rest of the plants. The granite has been stopped at one section around the courthouse because the builder has run out of granite and needs $2,000 to buy the remainder. The BOC voted to match Zebulon's $1,000 contribution on this.

Motion to adjourn at 11:33 a.m.

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Benefit Concert Will Be Held In Williamson

John Michael Montgomery and Ronnie Milsap will perform on July 7, 2007 at Cheyenne Farms to benefit the Georgia Equine Rescue League and Save the Horses.org. The gates will open at 5 p.m. with John Michael Montgomery taking the stage at 6 p.m. Ronnie Milsap will then perform onstage for 90 minutes. 10,000 tickets will be sold for this concert. More information as it becomes available.

Thanks to the Board of Commissioners for approving this special exception. Thanks to Lisa Amey-Breier for doing something positive for Pike County and helping out these two organizations.

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING MARCH 27, 2007 6:30 PM

(Note from the Editor: This meeting was an interesting one. I want to commend the BOC for doing the right thing by our employees and for approving the benefit concert at Cheyenne Farms. Employee retention should be at the top of our list as a county goal and the concert will bring some much needed positive publicity to Pike County.)

The County Manager (CM) got approval to run an ad for Public Works Director. It will have a final check and go into the papers shortly.

Brent Taylor asked to be withdrawn from the agenda and did not speak to the BOC regarding ordinance updates and the Board of Appeals. The last Board of Appeals meeting was a special called meeting and there were quite a few fireworks. (Note from the Editor: 3.28.07 I have requested this information by Open Records Request and hope to have it posted soon.)

Commissioner Concerns: Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked about the garage/shop for Public Works. It was a rather heated discussion. This will be put out to bid soon so we can get the work done it in-house and have the rest of it completed ASAP. A question was asked about the Lifsey Springs Fire Station and SPLOST funds. "Citizens need to see us moving on this.." said Commissioner Parrish Swift. Commissioner Jake Garner asked Building/Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker about Jones Circle.

The County Attorney Rob Morton addressed complaints and a letter about Commissioner Roosevelt Willis taking the Soil and Erosion Test with county employees. Morton addressed the situation by reviewing state conflict statutes and advised that the BOC authorized Willis to take this training so they could either ask Willis to reimburse the county or approve that he take this training in the meeting. (Note from the Editor: This is so Willis can oversee the employees at Public Works on ENS until we can get a Public Works Director in place and is not something that is required for his trucking business. I hope that individual BOC members can step back and let Dept heads do their jobs as soon as we get a new CM and Public Works Director in place since the CM is the only one allowed to be hands-on with the employees.) Discussion that checking pipes is something that Willis be doing for now and not long-term. Vote to approve Willis to receive the training at County expense. 3-0-1 (Willis abstained)

The BOC then went into Executive Session for over an hour regarding personnel and potential litigation. The BOC came back into regular session at 8:12 p.m. and signed the affidavits that they only spoke about items that allowed in Executive Session. No motions on action to take as a result of Executive Session.

Discussion on paving of Liberty Road. John Sell brought an agreement between all parties before the BOC where the trees could be saved instead of cutting them down to pave this section of road. The road has to be paved and brought up to county specs for the development that is going in here. Discussion included prescriptive right of way that was ok'ed at a previous meeting, heated discussion about safety and the lack of 60 ft of roadway and lack of right of way, and an interjection by Morton that the road is almost a non-conforming use because it has always been there in this condition. Approved the plan brought before them. 4-0

The first reading of the agreement between Pike County and Rapid Communications, formerly Charter Cable, was read at the meeting. Ron Page represented Rapid and advised that billing problems have been resolved and the phone system is back online. (Some customers were double billed for boxes because of a double code in the old Charter bills but were refunded that amount on the next bill. Rapid goes on a 30 day billing system at the beginning of the month and some complained of because of pro-rated bills that arrived at the end of the month as well as a bill at the beginning of the month.) Approved 4-0

Money was taken out of contingency and moved to the proper line item to pay for a computer and accessories for the Keep Pike Beautiful Authority.

There have been some complaints about the piping that is being placed in the ground in the North Pike County area. Tom Lacey, Chairman of the Water and Sewer Authority, and Tom Sloope, an engineer who is overseeing this project, were present to answer questions. The BOC was advised that each yard was videotaped prior to work and will be brought back to the same way it was before the laying of pipe--or better-- by the contractor when the contract is complete. Damaged sprinklers will be replaced and even the same type of sod will be placed in the yards. This process may take up to 2 weeks after the pipe is laid in the ground in some areas, but it will be completed before the contractor is paid for the job. "Just because the contractor has left the area doesn't mean that he's not coming back. He hasn't been paid on the job and won't be paid until it's been inspected and approved," said Tom Sloope.

The BOC discussed employee payroll and the problem that arose after the vote to change payroll turn in day from Wednesday with payday on Friday to the new process with Friday payroll turn in day. Where do those three days Wednesday, Tuesday, and Monday to get back to Friday come into play? The hourly pay employees in the county received a memo advising that they would receive a 7 day paycheck on April 5th when they are used to a 10 day paycheck. The 3 days would have been paid to the employees when they left the county, as the BOC Chair pointed out that is a big hit in the wallet for employees living paycheck to paycheck.

The CM spoke to all of the Dept heads and asked for suggestions. In the end, the BOC took 2 of the 4 suggestions and rolled them into a plausible solution. The BOC voted to wait until June and roll the days back 1 day on each paycheck so the employees will get 13 day paychecks instead of 14 day paychecks for 3 pay periods. This is a solution that everybody can live with. (Note from the Editor: Thank you to the BOC for looking at all of the options and even taking suggestions from the audience to ensure that the employees are treated fairly.) This will also ensure that the payroll clerk has a full week to enter employee payroll information instead of 1 1/2 days as it was. The Chairman also advised that the new system using electronic signatures for paychecks has been implemented. Approved 4-0

Update on the junk cars from a previous meeting: Those involved are trying to find a way to donate the cars and maybe even donate to the church in the Hilltop area. Also a problem in Jones Circle similar to this. BOC advised Zoning Administrator to send a letter advising 45 day time limit for the property owner to remove the vehicles or further action will be taken. It will also be printed in the newspaper. 3-1 Swift opposed.

(Note from the Editor: Commissioner Parrish Swift echoed thoughts that I had when he asked why the BOC has to give the Zoning Administrator permission to do his job. Of course, this is understandable when the BOC stripped Becker of his authority to perform some duties and take it upon themselves. The BOC is micro-managing some aspects of county government that it shouldn't be and some employees are not standing up to them because they are afraid of being fired.

This may not pertain to all aspects of county government, but it applies in several situations of late and the past BOC put us in this position by firing the CM over a document that wasn't released until a month ago. I won't even get started on this again except to say that BOC needs get another CM in here ASAP and let the CM deal with day to day county business.)

BOC voted to approve CM's suggestion that an employee travel policy be implemented which will advise employees about what travel and training expenses will be covered as well as raising the per diem on meals from $30 to $40 per day. 4-0

BOC voted to allow special exception for Christ Church of Zebulon to continue the child care facility (Sonshine Daycare) and hold church services on Sullivan Road property with stipulation that Health Department and Fire Marshal inspections give approval and that adequate parking is available. 4-0

Ron Alexander, the owner of Peachstate Airpark, applied for a special exception to have different commercial uses on one property lot instead of cutting up a piece of property for each Candler Airport reproduction building which could allow it to be sold in pieces rather than as a whole if it were ever sold. Currently zone C-2. A couple of possible uses such as a bed and breakfast will not apply under C-2 and will be cut out and an application for rezoning brought before the BOC if hopes come to fruition. Mr. Alexander is working to recreate the Old Atlanta Airport in the 1930's. It will have 7 building with each having a separate use. Look for the Peachstate Aerodrome link on the links page. 4-0 to approve.

Lisa Amey-Breier applied for a special exception to hold a one-time outdoor concert on her property located on Hwy 362 in Williamson. She brought a notorized copy from the person she is purchasing the property from in order to fulfill one of the requirements that prompted a denial recommendation from the Board of Appeals (BOA). The other reason that the BOA voted to deny was that the property is zoned A-R and outdoor concerts are only allowed on C-3 property. Ms. Amey-Breier brought her experienced concert crew with her and allowed them to answer the many questions that were put to them by the BOC from security to trash pickup to traffic. The GA Equine Rescue League and Save the Horses.org will be the recipients of this benefit concert.

July 7, 2007 is the date of the concert. More information on this event as it becomes available. The BOC agreed that this is a one time event and voted to allow the concert to take place. 4-0.

Citizen Jimmy Bass came before the BOC to ask about Pullian's Road which has been cut in half by the Reservoir Road and not brought up to Pike County specs as was promised by the City of Griffin. BOC voted to put the City of Griffin on notice about this legal obligation to bring this road up to the condition that it was in prior to the Reservoir being put in or better condition. County and State ordinances cover the roads and there are fines that can be levied against the City of Griffin for non-compliance. 4-0.

Town Hall Meeting was held in which Section 90.78 of our code was quoted by citizen Carol Bass which states that the City of Griffin can be fined daily for Pullian's Road. A prior BOC did not require a bond in order to build this facility in Pike County.

A question was asked about the Transfer Station and overflow problems over the weekend. Chairman Fry stated that the City of Griffin is not hauling trash for the County yet and that citizens must be doing spring cleaning because bringing a lot of trash. The problem is being resolved.

Citizen Vernon Gray stated that Centerfield Sports Complex only has one outdoor portable toilet instead of three.

Motion to adjourn at 10:20 p.m.

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AGENDA REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING MARCH 14, 2007 9:00 AM

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 5

Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Tommy Powers, Commissioner Jake Garner, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and Commissioner Parrish Swift Also in attendance: County Attorney Tom Morton, County Attorney Rob Morton and Interim County Manager Sean Townsend

The Board of Commissioners (BOC) went into Executive Session at 9:07 a.m. and entered into regular session again at 10:03 a.m. Chairman Fry advised that new County Manager (CM) candidate Bill Sawyer has declined to come to Pike County as our new CM. The BOC has chosen to contact 13 of the 14 applicants and readvertise for 2 weeks for a new CM. Fry hopes to have a new CM in place in about 30 days.

Pay Periods will now be due on the Friday prior to pay day with checks continuing every 2 weeks.

Attorney Rob Morton was not present at the March 8, 2007 Special Called Meeting (SCM). The following motion is an adjustment to the recommendation made at that SCM. The BOC gave its approval to recommend an increase in pay for Public Works employees according to the pay grade chart but will not recommend a reduction of pay for anyone at this time. The BOC will consider actual pay grades after more research.

The CM brought the question of whether employees should be able to drive county vehicles back and forth to work. 2 employees are on call 24-7 in case of emergency. BOC members agreed that employees would be paid if they came to work--likely with overtime pay--and that they should drive their own vehicles back and forth to work.

Relay for Life BBQ was approved on the Courthouse grounds on March 30th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Commissioner Parrish Swift asked protocol if a citizen calls him with a road request. The Commissioners report the problem to the CM who then reports the problem to Public Works. Parrish asked where the communication was back to him on the problem. He was advised to ask about status in a public meeting so it would be in the minutes.

Commissioner Jake Garner has been called with complaints about drag racing on Shackelford Road. CM to advise Sheriff of the problem. Also gave a signage problem on the state right of way to the CM and cable lines in ditches that need to be taken care of.

Commissioner Roosevelt Willis asked for status on junk vehicles. Was advised by Department of Community Development Director Wendell Becker that a meeting has been set up to see if there is way to benefit the community.

County Attorney Rob Morton advised that he is following up on Pullian's Road with the City of Griffin as he had been advised to do by the BOC. Expects an answer soon.

Ms. Helen Carter introduced Youth Leadership Pike members to the BOC. These High School students completed a community service project and were fulfilling another requirement of the program by attending a BOC meeting to observe county government in action. Congratulations to these young men and women on completing the Youth Leadership Pike program.

Citizen Vernon Gray asked what the status was on Centerfield. Mr. Gray had advised Chairman Fry by telephone that a ball game had gone on the weekend of March 11-12th. The Office of Community Development (Building and Zoning) had been approached about a citation but the person was advised that the property involved is in litigation and a ticket cannot be given at this time because of this.

Chairman Fry said that no outdoor activities are allowed in C-1 zoning. Began to say this is "analogous to an outdoor baseball stadium" when county attorney Rob Morton interrupted Chairman Fry and advised him not to speak any more on this matter because of the "threat of imminent litigation". Chairman Fry asked for and got an executive session at 10:42 a.m. 4-1 vote. Garner opposed. (Note from the Editor: Yes, I agree that the BOC as a whole has beat a dead horse on this. At this point, it is up to the attorneys and as I have stated before, I think that the Director of Community Development, Wendell Becker, was within his rights to give them the zoning based on the evidence that was presented before the BOC in January. Go to the home page and use the search engine at the bottom of the page to search for Centerfield to see the notes on that.)

After a short period of time, the BOC voted to come out of executive session 5-0 vote and Chairman Fry redirected everything to the attorney saying that answers are being worked on and that Centerfield's business permit for indoor recreation is the only one that has been renewed.

Ron Page from Rapid Communications advised that there have been some phone system glitches, but that customers can call 256-538-9844 which will send them directly to a customer representative in Alabama. Advised that there is not a rate increase for customers but that there was a problem with two of Charter's billing codes that caused some people to be billed twice for converter boxes. This money will be refunded. Mr. Page introduced John Gilbert from the leased access Channel 13 who is looking for advertisers.

Commissioner Swift asked if all Charter accounts are being covered by Rapid Communications and was advised that they are. Ron Page advised that lines are being run underground and that lines around Zebulon square should be out of the way this week.

County Attorney Rob Morton brought to the BOC the fact that the Rapid Communications agreement had been postponed in December and needs to be addressed at the next couple of meetings.

Community Development Director Wendell Becker brought information on reversion of commercial lots that have not had anything done to them over the past year. Our ordinances say that this process can be performed to revert these commercial properties back to their original status (Section 156.030). If these properties are reverted back to their original status, each parcel will have to go back through the rezoning process and there is no guarantee that they will be granted the same zoning. The BOC gave go ahead on this.

The BOC discussed Liberty Road at length and gave approval to accept Liberty Road. 5-0

Approval for Church of Joy to use the Courthouse grounds for a chicken Q fundraiser on April 28th. 5-0

BOC approval for refund to Audie Ingram. 5-0.

Approval of refund of building permit to Kristie Miller. 5-0.

The Chamber of Commerce will have a representative present in the office from the West Central Georgia Development Corporation. Anthony Chaney is this representative and will be present from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Mondays. This includes a youth program and an adult program that provides labor market information, career counselling and training services to those who qualify.

Jerry Weitz workshop on March 22 at 5:30 p.m. for BOC and Planning Commission members.

Tax Assessor Jeannie Haddock addressed concerns that BOC had about people not getting notices and asking for refunds from the BOC. The BOC wanted to have assessments sent out by certified mail.

Here is the current process. Notices are sent out in the mail to the same address that the original letters are sent to. If the notice comes back in the mail, a list of the owners and a brief description of the property is added to a list that is certified by Judge Brandenburg and hangs in the Tax Assessor's Office and Courthouse for 30 days. If the property owner does not fill out the tax return that is sent to them, the Tax Assessor's Office sends them a notice and estimates that amount for them. April 1 is the deadline every year on this.

Send out notices by any other method than the current one is not feasible. Last year, the Tax Assessor's Office paid TBS (the company that prints and mails out the letters and notices) to send out 2,387 letters on real property. To do this by hand would cost $11,075 for the $4.64 per notice. And that doesn't include the extra employee time that it would cost. Personal property had 1,100 notices sent out. Yes, that would be about half of the cost at $5,104. And since the Tax Assessor's Office is required to treat all property taxes alike, it cannot choose to discriminate between the two and only do half of the taxes by certified mail.

OCGA 48-5-306 has the requirements for sending out these notices. The BOC now has the other half of the story on whether it is feasible to send out these notice by certified mail and the answer is no.

Motion to adjourn at 11:25 a.m.

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AGENDA SPECIAL CALL MEETING MARCH 8, 2007 5:00 PM
  1. CALL TO ORDER ....Chairman Steve Fry

  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

  3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

  4. EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PUBLIC WORKS PERSONNEL PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. 䅮-14-3(6)

  5. ADJOURNMENT

Questions to ask yourself...

First and foremost, why is there a need for a Special Called Meeting when the next Regular Scheduled Meeting is less than a week away?

Does this have anything to do with an inadequate budget and is this debacle being blamed on a former employee who has become a convenient scapegoat?

And last but certainly not least, why is the Interim County Manager and the Pike County Board of Commissioners having a Special Called Meeting on Public Works Personnel when the new County Manager will be assuming his position in the near future?

(Note from the Editor: The thoughts above are what I was comtemplating as I sat in (another) Special Called Meeting (SCM) full of Public Works employees and concerned members of the public that was scheduled at 5 p.m. on a night when there was a Planning Meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the same room. Here is what happened in a nutshell.

The Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted to make a recommendation to the County Manager (CM) that Interim Public Works Director Shawn Shoats go back to his regular job as the Director of the Recreation Authority. BOC members told the attending public that they want Mr. Shoats to focus on his duties there since the spring sports are starting to gear up. Then the BOC voted to readvertise for a Public Works Director after the incoming CM, Bill Sawyer, reviews the advertisement. Then the BOC voted to go by a Step Chart based on years of service, job description, and job skills when paying employees out at the Road Department.

This is a mess so let me start with the chain of command in Pike County. The employees in Pike County are under the direct supervision of their Department Head, the CM is in charge of the Department Heads, and the CM answers to the BOC as a whole, not individually. And this does not apply to offices where the Department Head is elected. So, the interim CM, Sean Townsend, will be in charge of the Road Department as well as his CM duties since Mr. Shoats is now back at the Recreation Department.

Here's the rest of the story. I'm getting the tape on Monday to review all of this again, but I understand that a County Commissioner went out to the Road Department and tested the employees' job skills on what they said they could do and gave his opinion on their skills to the then Interim Supervisor, Shawn Shoats. Then everyone at the Road Department was placed into the 8 step Payscale which is supposed to treat everyone fairly.

Added 3.11.07: I don't know exactly where the instructions came from, but I do know that employees were advised of changes on the day before the SCM by Mr. Shoates. And, as I understand it, more than one commissioner has been down at the Road Department on a regular basis of late.

Commissioner Garner denied placing anyone in the Payscale, but getting directly involved with testing employees' job skills is over the line that has been drawn by the past CM employment agreement that was drawn up as a direct result of the lawsuit where citizens accused the BOC of usurping CM responsibilities. Feel free to get the tape of the SCM from 3.8.07. It is available at the BOC Office for a nominal fee.

The problem with this payscale is that there is no merit system to would reward good workers over their counterparts for work excellence. And it wasn't too long ago that the BOC removed the crewleader pay from everyone who had it as well. As one member of the audience pointed out, there is no continuity at the Road Department and it is affecting employee morale and that the responsibility was that of the BOC. I agree. In my opinion, the same goes for the constant turnover in the CM position.

Added 3.11.07: I also agree with the citizen who asked the BOC if they actually wanted the citizens in the room to believe that the interim CM would not take their recommendation as a direct order. In my opinion, the interim CM and the past interim Public Works Director did not have a choice in whether they would follow this order or not. Pike County's track record on firing employees and past CM's speaks for itself.

Added 3.11.07: I hope that the new commissioners will work with the current members of the past BOC to stop the turnover in Pike County government. This will include letting the new CM do his job. When is Mr. Sawyer's first day on the job?

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SPECIAL CALL MEETING MARCH 1, 2007 4:00 PM


Pike County Has a New County Manager

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously 4-0 to appoint Bill Sawyer as the new County Manager during the Special Call Meeting on March 1, 2007. Commissioner Garner was not present at Thursday's meeting. BOC members read through 35 applications and trimmed the number down to three before choosing Sawyer in Thursday's Special Call meeting.

Bill Sawyer is currently the county manager in Macon County, Georgia and will work a notice at his current employment before coming to work for Pike County. Sawyer's past experience includes serving as President of the Macon County Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the Development Authority of Macon County.

The Board of Commissioners also voted to award the April 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007 county ambulance contract to Mid Georgia Ambulance. Mid Georgia Ambulance and CARE Ambulance both gave a bid of $450,000 for a yearly contract with Pike County, but Mid Georgia Ambulance included the $12,000 cost of ambulance housing in its bid. CARE did not.

The cost of housing and the promise of 2 full-time ambulances that would not be providing assistance to any surrounding counties were deciding factors in the 3-1 vote. Only two bids were given to the Board of Commissioners for ambulance service in Pike County. Discussion of a possible Pike County ambulance service was blamed for the lack of interest in service to Pike County.

(Note from the Editor: The two newest commissioners did a good job of turning the discussion back to the bids that were being reviewed rather than allowing an ongoing discussion of a possible in-county ambulance service which is not even an option at this time due to budgetary constraints.)

POST AGENDA

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 4

Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis, Commissioner Tommy Powers, and Commissioner Parrish Swift were present. Interim County Manager Sean Townsend and County Attorney Tom Morton were also present.

approval of agenda as written

approval to allow public discussion regarding ambulance service

approval to award ambulance bid to Mid Georgia Ambulance

approval to award County Manager position to Bill Sawyer

approval to adjourn special call meeting at 4:48 pm

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AGENDA REGULAR CALL MEETING FEBRUARY 27, 2007 6:30 PM
  1. CALL TO ORDER…………Chairman Steve Fry

  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

  3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

    (O.C.G.A. 50-14-1 (e)(1))

  4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

    1. Regular Monthly Meeting Minutes held February 14, 2007 at 9:00 am pursuant to (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 (e)(2))

    2. Special Call Meeting held February 16, 2007 at 10:00 am (O.C.G.A § 50-14-3(4))

    3. Special Call Meeting held February 27, 2007 at 3:30 pm (O.C.G.A.䅮-14-3(4))

  5. REPORTS FROM COMMISSIONERS, DEPARTMENTS & COMMITTEES

    1. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities

    2. County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners

      1. The bids to install the water lines up to Ranew's were reviewed for accuracy after the bid process and an addition error was found. The error did not effect the final outcome because Davidson Brothers is still the low bidder, but the BOC had to recind motion to accept bid of $516,957.15 from 1.30.07 meeting and make a motion to accept the corrected bid of $532,357.15. Approved 4-0.

      2. 2 bids were received to fix the wiring in the Courthouse: a Sunnyside business for $17,250.00 and a Concord business for $17,747.50. Discussion about going with a county business or taking the low bid. Commissioner Garner weighed going with in-county bidder against being a good steward of taxpayer money and made the motion to go with the low bidder. Approved 3-2. Swift and Willis dissenting. Motion was then made to move the money from contingency to Building and Grounds so it would come out of the correct line item. Approved 5-0.

      3. The 1 year contract for Solid Waste was brought into the discussion from a prior meeting. Thank you to Commissioner Swift for asking, "Shouldn't this have been on the agenda?" Discussion ensued about the two companies and different methods in picking up garbage and problems in the past that the interim CM said had been corrected. Commissioner Garner made motion to go with the low bid of the City of Griffin to haul trash out of Pike County beginning on March 1, 2007.)

    3. Commissioners report

      Discussion on the Road Department and hopes that the BOC will see some improvement over there. Also an update was given on EPD situation. Tires have been removed and soil contaminated by diesel fuel has been scraped up and removed. Trying to get rid of scrap metal and materials. Chairman Fry asked about the Board of Assessors and the legality of 2-1 votes. Attorney Morton advised that the Tax Assessors Board is legislated by State law.

    4. County Attorney report

  6. INVITED GUEST - CHERYL MARSHALL TO DISCUSS INFORMATION ON THE AMERICAN RED CROSS AND HEROES CAMPAIGN

    78 families received assistance in 2005 through the American Red Cross Georgia Piedmont Chapter and from July 1, 2006 to date, 115 families have received assistance. CPR training went from 1321 to 2,575 people receiving training. Disaster preparedness went from 589 to 1,114 people and that blood services collected 1,500 pints of blood in the previous year compared to 3,232 pints of blood in the current year to date. The Georgia Piedmont Chapter of the American Red Cross is in need of volunteers and contributions all year round.

  7. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

    1. Final Plat approval and right-of-way dedication for Saddle Creek Estates, Midway Road.

      This is a privately maintained gravel road. Motion to approve final plat contingent upon review of the dedication of right of ways by the county attorney. Approved 5-0.

    2. Don Bailey to give an update on animal control issues.

      Mr. Bailey gave another indepth presentation of Pike County and animal control. There are 218 square miles in Pike County and we had 22.4% growth over the past year. We are one of 77 counties in the state of Georgia without animal control. Said that 52 animal tags were sold in Pike County last year and gave a run-down of the program for low cost spay-neuter through the State Department of Agriculture. Mr. Bailey wants to put together a forum of interested organizations maybe through the Farm Bureau with an emphasis on education about rabies, getting rabies shots for pets, low cost sterilization, etc. He advised that he still has a couple of city councils to speak to before he has spoken to all of governing authorities in Pike County.

      See links on link page for Dog Bite Prevention Week, CDC Rabies info, and GA Dept of Agriculture Animal Industry - Dog and Cat Sterilization Program thanks to Mr. Bailey who told the BOC that "Change will take time... [but] any step in the right direction is a step toward progress."

    3. Opening of bids for ambulance service.

  8. NEW BUSINESS

    1. Miss Summer Smith to discuss the storm drain in front of new lot on Sells Road.

    2. Chris Curry seeking permission to use the Courthouse Square for the Pimento Festival on May 19, 2007

    3. Robert Barnes has submitted a Tax Refund/Relief Application for consideration.

    4. Jeff Kenerly, Chairman of the Pike County Recreation Authority to discuss non-profit status of the Recreation Authority.

    5. Application to the Citizens Advisory Task Force by Donald L. Bailey, Jr.

  9. PUBLIC COMMENT- JIMMY BASS

    1. Update-Reversions on Highway 19 North

    2. Update-Pullians Road

    3. Clarification on no parking on right-of-way ordinance.

  10. EXECUTIVE SESSION

    Discussion of personnel pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

    approval of motion to allow the affidavits which were part of the Tommy Burnsed investigation to be released as open records. 4-0

    (Note from the Editor: See history block below.)

  11. ADJOURNMENT
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A Brief History of the Affidavits and the Firing of County Manager Tommy Burnsed

(Note from the Editor: I'm going to include a somewhat brief history of the past county manager (CM) and I'm researching the CM's before him. The information in quotes is copied and pasted from the Pike County website. This link can be found below.

The incoming CM has his work cut out for him, but I think that he and the current BOC are capable of handling Pike County for the best of all of its citizens. Hopefully, all parties involved in this ongoing saga will let them do their job.)

At the Special Called Meeting on August 14, 2006, "Commissioner Garner made a motion to authorize and request the investigator from the District Attorneys Office to conduct the interviews from county employees and the County Manager be placed on suspension with pay until the Regular Monthly Night Meeting of August 29, 2006, unless otherwise sooner terminated based on the investigation status. A second was given by Commissioner Davidson. 5-0 vote."

The BOC voted on August 14, 2006 "not to release the sworn affidavits that were received in conjuction with the DA's Office regarding the investigation into the actions of the Pike County Manager to protect the identity and the confidentiality of employees and also for the best interest of the county.

Rob Morton clarified that this is not considered a vacancy in the position of County Manager, but this is for the purpose of allowing the investigation to go through. He stated that if there are any issues involving personnel that Mr. Burnsed will be contacted and consulted."

The DA's investigation was completed on August 23, 2006 and all information concerning the Special Investigation was turned over to Commission Chairman Steve Fry on August 24, 2006 per his signature and that of DA Scott Ballard on the Investigative Summary Report.

On August 25, 2006, District Attorney Scott Ballard held a press conference in Zebulon declaring that the investigation of CM Burnsed was complete and that the DA's Office found "no evidence of criminal activity on the part of Tommy Burnsed County Manager for Pike County". (Note from the Editor: This quote is from the Investigative Summary that was released per my Open Records Request of September 13, 2006.)

The BOC then held an Emergency Call Meeting in which "Commissioner Davidson made a motion to immediately terminate County Manager Tommy Burnsed for the cause being: altering of county documents, for making sexual and racial comments and remarks, and misuse of county property, and also, to appoint Mr. Sean Townsend as interim County Manager until the board can advertise for a permanent County Manager. A second was given by Commissioner King. 3-0 vote."

In the September 13, 2006 meeting, the BOC voted "not to release the sworn Affidavits that were received in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office regarding the investigation into the actions of the Pike County Manager to protect the identity and the confidentiality of employees and also for the best interest of the County."

I placed a complaint was placed with the Georgia Attorney General's Office in October of 2006. The BOC voted to release the employee affidavits at the March 1, 2007 meeting.

(Note from the Editor: I will not be posting the employee affidavits on my website. I have read the affidavits and do not think that the information justified the firing of the CM. The fact that the CM was denied the chance to defend his professional and personal reputation is abhorrent. The release of this Open Records document avoided one lawsuit from the former CM.)

Update: 3.6.07

(Note from the Editor: The Pike County Journal is printing some of the allegations that have been made against fired County Manager Tommy Burnsed. I have chosen not to do that but I have been presented with some excellent arguments that have made me question my original stance on this. For now, I am not printing these allegations their entire form.

The Pike County Journal question for this week is whether or not the affidavits should be printed. I don't think that the answer is that simple.

If the answer is yes then the accusers need to be provided with accountability by allowing the accused and everyone who heard the comments to refute the accusation or give pertinent information that will clarify the situation. For example, one of the accuser's statements has a portion that is not fit to print and has been denied by others who were involved in the conversation.

If the answer is no then the public should be advised that the information is available to them and that they are free to ask questions of the accused AND all of the accusers AND their representative on the BOC--with the exception of Roosevelt Willis and Parrish Swift who came into office in January.

Most of all, the Board of Commissioners should not have promised that they would keep this information private. Pike County government should be as open as possible so no one can accuse our public officials of hiding anything from their constituents.

In closing, I think that the public should step back and look at the entire picture with each of the participants as an individual as well as where they fit into the picture as a whole and whether there was any motive involved. We would do no less for any situation in the national media--the same yardstick should apply here.

Most of all, I think that individual commissioners and the BOC should be held responsible for its part in this situation so we do not make the same mistakes in the future.)

[Note from the Editor: Click here to read about the history of Pike County's County Manager form of government.]

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AGENDA SPECIAL CALL MEETING FEBRUARY 27, 2007 3:30 PM

  1. CALL TO ORDER …………………………..Chairman Steve Fry

  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

  3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

  4. EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A § 50-14-3(6)

  5. ADJOURNMENT

THE REGULAR CALL MEETING WILL BE AT 6:30 P.M.


This meeting was called to finish up the 2nd interviews for 2 of the 3 County Manager candidates. No other business was added to the agenda. Motion to adjourn at 4:45 p.m.

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POST AGENDA SPECIAL CALL MEETING February 16, 2007 10:00 AM

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 5

Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis, Commissioner Tommy Powers, Commissioner Jake Garner and Commissioner Parrish Swift. County Attorney Rob Morton and Interim County Manager Sean Townsend were also present.

  1. approval to amend the agenda to add discussion of the following:
    1. potential litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)
    2. public Works EPD discovery
    3. letter to Public Works employees
    4. ambulance license

(Note from the Editor: The meeting attendance was poor. There would have been much better attendance if the matters added to the agenda had been properly advertised. I can understand if something comes up last minute and needs to be added to the agenda, but the past 3 special called meetings (SCM) have had items of significance that were not properly advertised. This includes the February 9, 2007 $35,877.00 purchase of the Dodge Ram 3500 rescue truck for the Pike County Volunteer Fire Department. This was added to the agenda of the February 7, 2007 meeting and discussed as a possibility. Why would it not be included on the February 9th agenda? This was probably an oversight, but it would reflect better on the Board of Commissioners if items were properly advertised so no one could accuse anyone of trying to hide anything.

You can view the following Open Government Laws in full by going to the Open Government box on the home page. O.C.G.A. 50-14-1(2)(d) allows for special called meetings. O.C.G.A. 50-14-1(2)(e)(1) even allows the BOC to act on an item even if it is not included on the agenda as the BOC (and I) have been advised by Attorney Rob Morton, but it also states that "prior to any meeting, the agency holding such meeting shall make available an agenda of all matters expected to come before the agency at such meeting". Acting on an occasional item that comes up during a meeting is a different situation than repeatedly choosing to add items to the agenda instead of properly advertising county business to the public.)

Discussion of EPD discovery at Public Works and proper channels for employees to report any problems that need to be corrected to their direct supervisor. At some point in the past, some tires were improperly disposed of. The problem is being corrected. A problem with petroleum saturated soil is being addressed as well.

Motion to have County Manager send letter to employees advising them to obey all local, state, and federal laws and bring violations to the attention of supervisor and the county through proper channels. Approved 4-0.

Discussion on requirement for the county to maintain its ambulance license. Chairman Fry was advised that the county has to own its own ambulances in order to maintain this license and that some used ambulances in Crawford County have been found that could be purchased by Pike County. Attorney Rob Morton advised that this information is incorrect. There is a place on the application that allows a lease provision.

(Note from the Editor: In the November 22, 2006 SCM, the past BOC put $250,000 total in contingency for the entire year. Part of that amount is earmarked for different uses, but $100,000 of that amount was to be used for contingencies. Some of that money has been spent to do much needed repairs on the wiring in the Courthouse. See the minutes from the February 7th and 9th SCM for more information on the Rescue Truck. Details are still sketchy on where this money is going to come from.

Update 2.20.07: I listened to the tapes on this and there was discussion about the money coming out of the Insurance Rollback money that is paid to the county at the end of our fiscal year and included in the county budget at the beginning of every year. Explanation of Insurance Rollback in the gray box below.

Update 2.28.07: In asking more questions about insurance rollback money, my understanding is that this money is included in the county budget at the beginning of the year even though we haven't received it yet AND this money is already earmarked for particular budget items. What department is going to suffer at the end of the year because the money that was supposed to pay for their item has already been spent?

I have to add that I'm not against getting our agencies what they need, but I am advocating fiscal responsibility because money comes from taxpayer wallets and does not grow on trees.

March 30th is the ending date on the extension of the current ambulance contract where Pike County will either rebid our ambulance contract or go into the ambulance business. Is 60 days enough time to properly prepare for the possibility of going into the ambulance business when we don't have money in contingency to pay for this first of all and will need to hire workers and get everything up and running? The BOC will be holding a workshop on this topic in the near future. CARE Director Dale Gamble has advised that he would provide the BOC with actual number of transports (not calls)for the past year if the BOC decides to rebid the ambulance contract.)

approval to exit open session and enter into executive session at 10:20am

approval to exit executive session and re-enter open session at 11:30 am

approval of motion to prepare and sign a separate affidavit for each topic discussed in executive session. 4-0

(Note from the Editor: This is a way to prove what topics were discussed in Executive Session with signatures as proof that all Executive Session rules were followed without the need to tape record sessions as was discussed at the February 14, 2007 meeting. Attorney Rob Morton advised that this is not required but would make it more clear that the Pike BOC is following the rules of open government. Advised the BOC to take a vote to make it a matter of record for future meetings.)

approval of motion to have the County Manager re-structure positions at the road department and adjust salaries as necessary to reflect this new re-structuring. 4-0

(Note from the Editor: The interim Public Works Director will be the only one to give directions from now on.)

approval of motion to put DDA and City of Zebulon on notice and to have to contractor responsible for the downtown construction work remove any materials dumped at the road department at the contractor’s cost. What needs to be removed at the contractor’s cost is materials that are considered “inadequate”. 4-0

(Note from the Editor: Material from courthouse renovations has been dumped at Public Works without Commission approval. If material is inert or is a problem according to EPD, the contractor must remove it at the contractor's expense.)

approval to amend the agenda a second time to add discussion of animal control. 4-0

(Note from Editor: Commissioner Willis received a dog complaint from a citizen. Citizens can take action through Magistrate Court. Information has been received from a new animal shelter in a neighboring county as well as from Upson County Animal Shelter.)

approval to open meeting up to public comment. 4-0

(Note from the Editor: Question was asked whether citizens can kill a stray dog on their property. State law was cited as stated on the home page of this website. Question was asked where to dispose of the carcass because it is illegal to improperly dispose of a carcass. Possibility of Lamar County Landfill taking carcasses.)

approval to adjourn special call meeting at 11:45am

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PIKE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING FEBRUARY 14, 2007 9:00 AM

The meeting began at 9:00 a.m. The agenda was amended to include acquisition of real estate and pending litigation on the Executive Session. Rapid Communications LLC was added to Old Business. Opening of bids for the transfer station and the Request for a Quit Claim deed for the DDA buildings on the square were added to New Business.

Commissioner Willis questioned whether there is enough time allotted to those who input and cut checks when time is turned in on Wednesday and checks cut on Friday. Electronic signatures for pay checks (approved at the past meeting) will be instituted soon. Interim County Manager (CM) said he would look into this and present something at the next meeting.

Executive Session began at 9:08 a.m. and did not conclude until 10:25 a.m.

Chairman Fry gave a rundown of Executive Session discussion. The final three candidates for CM are Jerry Rome Presley, Bill Sawyer, and Darron King. The BOC is taking care to follow state law on this matter and it will be at least 14 days before we know the final candidate.

Chairman Fry made a clarification on the possible acquisition of the old elementary school. The School Board has not completed a study of moving buses and the bus barn to another location at this time. The BOC budget was approved in November and it did not include any money for acquisition of real estate. The BOC and BOE have chosen to deal directly with each other on this issue.

Commissioner Swift asked if a recording was made of the Executive Sessions to protect the BOC from "he said/ she said" accusations. Chairman Fry advised that there is documentation about the acquisition of real estate that is sealed until completed or dropped but no taped recordings of Executive Sessions at this time. Attorney Rob Morton advised that the BOC has the authority to record Executive Sessions in writing or tape.

(Note from the Editor: Civil Action File No. 03V-005, that was filed by individuals on the behalf of The Coalition for Responsible Government vs. The Board of Commissioners of Pike County, Georgia and the County of Pike, was entered into agreement on January 21, 2004. The terms of agreement included items of interest even now. 1) BOC will post an agenda for each meeting that "will reasonably and accurately identify the matters expected to be considered at the public meeting; whether the meeting is a regularly scheduled meeting or is a specially called meeting, in order to inform the public as to the true topics expected to be discussed at said meetings" [See minutes from SCM 2.7.07 and 2.9.07 that will be posted shortly.] 2) Specified and clarified the role and authority of the County Manager (CM) including the specific instruction that "It is understood by the Parties that the CM shall have the general responsibility regarding county personnel expect for the CM's position, which shall fall under the exclusive authority of the Pike County Board of Commissioners..." with the exception of Pike County Constitutional Officers and personnel that is limited by State Law, and 3) The BOC was required to make a record of all closed executive sessions for a period of 24 months that was to be stored in a secure location and not subject to the Open Records Act.)

Lanier Boatwright and Robert Hiett gave a presentation and answered questions about McIntosh Trail. Current McIntosh Trail appointments are Fred Roney, Virginia Sanford, and Chairman Steve Fry. The board meets at 2 p.m. on the 4th Thursday of every month. The McIntosh Trail website is on the community events page now.

Old business: The BOC held the 2nd reading of the text amendment to take away Wendell Becker's authority. (Note from the Editor: See the past meeting for more information on this. Short story is that the BOC voted to change this ordinance over the suggestion of the Planning Board to keep current checks and balances in place. See the Planning Board January 11, 2007 meeting for more info. Before the BOC took the Planning Board's power away, the Planning Board would have had the final say on this.) Commissioner Swift asked for clarification from Chairman Fry and fellow BOC members that this is a temporary change that will be reversed after our Code of Ordinances is updated by the Citizens Advisory Task Force Zoning Subcommittee. (Note from the Editor: Chairman Fry stated that this was a temporary taking of authority before the 1st reading at the January 30, 2007 BOC meeting.)

Rapid Communications representative Ron Page advised that a permanent technician has been hired from this area. He introduced Ricky Smith and advised that Rapid Communications is working "to provide good and proper service to Pike County". The customer service number is 1-866-301-5388 and is now listed on the Community Events page.

County Attorney Rob Morton advised that the BOC had postponed action on signing the Charter Accounts Acquisition Document with Rapid Communications at a previous meeting. The City of Zebulon signed their agreement with Charter. Morton advised that signing the document will require 2 readings because it is considered an ordinance change.

Appointment to the Board of Assessors. Gina Marie Fry and Glen J. Rawlins put in applications. Discussion about candidates and qualifications. Gina has been on the board for the past 5 years. The Board of Assessors has paid for her to go to school so she would be knowledgeable in her duties on this board. The Board of Assessors asked through the Chief Appraiser that Gina be reappointed. Approved 3-1-1 Commissioner Swift voted against and Chairman Fry abstained.

James M. Totten appointed to the Citizens Advisory Task Force. Approved 5-0. (Note from the Editor: Applications for the CATF are available in the BOC office.)

Citizen Donald Bailey spoke on animal control issues, stray and dangerous dogs and the costs associated with other animal control officers assisting Pike County. He also spoke before the Zebulon City Council on February 13th. There were 253 known/reported animals cases in Pike County from 2006 through the beginning of February, 2007. (Note from the Editor: Mr. Bailey was very knowledgeable on this subject and has done a lot of research including the number of incidents reported through the Pike County Sheriff's Office. Mr. Bailey's Letters to the Editor and the statistics that accompany this letter can be reached by clicking on the Letters to the Editor page.) Mr. Bailey called on the BOC to be proactive instead of reactionary.

Discussion of animal control problem and what it would take to get an animal shelter. A guess that an animal shelter would require a $350,000 budget and a vet would have to be on retainer as well. The City of Williamson has a contract with Spalding County Animal Control but no other city can get a contract for animal control with surrounding counties. No animal control ordinance on the books. The BOC advised that it would continue to look into this matter.

Ben Maxedon requested the use of the Pike County Courthouse Square on May 3, 2007 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. for the National Day of Prayer and permission to post signs announcing the event the prior to the event. Approved.

Application for Tax Refund/Relief from Loetta Williams. Approved 5-0.

Public Hearing for Rezoning 2 acres of property on Hwy 19S to Professional Institutional for use as a dental office. Planning Board recommended approval with stipulations including a stipulation against a lodge or club. Parking will be in front of the building for patient access with a total staff of 5. Speaking in favor of the request: George Norris. No opposition. Landscaping will shield the parking from the road. P/I will allow a synagogue, church, college, hospital, dental office, club, lodge, etc. The request for a change in classification from A/R to P/I was approved with a stipulation that property only be used for a dental office and would include stipulations from the Planning Board. Approved 5-0

Opening of bids for the Transfer Station. Allied Waste - Jimmy Hunt and City of Griffin Solid Waste Division put in bids with a request from Republic Services of Georgia to included in future considerations. Commissioner Garner asked if we can weigh loads before they leave our property. At this time, the answer is no according to the interim CM but he is looking into a computerized scale system. (Note from the Editor: This request was made due to problems that have occurred with the current vendor Allied Waste. I was advised by phone that advertising for bids was done in the Upson, Pike and Spalding County newspapers.) Discussion that the bids were somewhat different and will need more consideration before the BOC can vote on them.

The DDA buildings on the square were the final topic of discussion. Tracts 1, 2, and 3 have been sold. A bookstore, the Chamber of Commerce and David Brisendine, Jr. are the purchasers of these buildings. There are 2 more lots for sale. The DDA asked that the BOC issue a quit claim deed in order to clear up the titles on the 3 sold properties and hold the 2 remaining tracts as collateral. This discussion was continued from the beginning of the meeting. Discussion concerned the 0% interest loan from the BOC to the DDA and the grant money that was used for renovations. Attorney Tom Morton advised that the quit claim deeds could be held in escrow and not recorded until the BOC received payment for the property. Motion by Commissioner Swift that the BOC sign the quit claim deeds that would be held in escrow and not released until the closing when the county is paid in full. Approved 5-0.

Motion to adjourn. 5-0

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SPECIAL CALLED MEETING PIKE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FEBRUARY 9, 2007 6:00 PM

The Pike County Board of Commissioners held their Special Called Meeting on Friday, February 9, 2007 at 6:00 PM in the Pike County Commissioners Meeting Room, Zebulon, Georgia. Members present were presiding Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and Commissioner Parrish Swift. County Attorney Rob Morton was also present.

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED THE PIKE COUNTY SPECIAL CALL MEETING TO ORDER.

CHAIRMAN FRY ASKED EVERYONE TO STAND FOR THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED FOR APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

An addition to the agenda for consideration-The Fire Department Rescue Truck.

MOTION
Commissioner Willis made a motion to approve the Special Call Agenda as amended for February 9, 2007 at 6:00 pm. A second was given by Commissioner Swift. 3-0 vote.

CHAIRMAN FRY BROUGHT UP THE TOPIC OF THE RESCUE VEHICLE

Per Chairman Fry “What we have is a vehicle, a Dodge Ram 3500. We’ve been looking around for a vehicle to serve the purpose of this for the past several years, really a year and a half we’ve been looking really seriously to fill this position. One of the things that it would be used for is to carry the new jaws that was purchased with the grant money on the north side. This vehicle is to be housed at Station 6.

MOTION
Commissioner Swift made the motion to purchase the Dodge Ram 3500 rescue truck for the purposes of the Pike County Volunteer Fire Department with the contingency on a motion that the County Manager determine which appropriate line item that the money is charged to and the budget revenue source that the money is funded from. Commissioner Willis seconded the motion. 3-0 vote.

(Note from the Editor: BOC has stated that there is enough money in the Insurance Rollback money from the State that is supposed to go toward the Public Safety. The Insurance Rollback check comes in once a year and is a percentage of our total budget. See the gray box below for the OCGA explanation of Insurance Rollback.)

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED FOR EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

MOTION
Chairman Fry made the motion to exit open session and enter into executive session. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Swift. 3-0 vote.

MOTION
Commissioner Swift made the motion to exit executive session and re-enter open session at 9:27 pm. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Willis. 3-0 vote.

MOTION
Commissioner Swift made the motion to adjourn at 9:28 pm. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Willis. 3-0 vote.

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O.C.G.A. § 33-8-8.3 (2006)

§ 33-8-8.3. Funding of services, or reduction of ad valorem taxes, in unincorporated areas of counties; powers and duties of governing authority

  1. The proceeds from the county taxes levied for county purposes, as provided by this chapter, shall be separated from other county funds and shall be used by the county governing authorities solely for the purpose of either:

    1. Funding the provision of the following services to inhabitants of the unincorporated areas of such counties directly or by intergovernmental contract as authorized by Article IX, Section III, Paragraph I of the Constitution of the State of Georgia:

      1. Police protection, except such protection provided by the county sheriff;

      2. Fire protection;

      3. Curbside or on-site residential or commercial garbage and solid waste collection;

      4. Curbs, sidewalks, and street lights;

      5. Such other services as may be provided by the county governing authority for the primary benefit of the inhabitants of the unincorporated area of the county; or

    2. Reducing ad valorem taxes of the inhabitants of the unincorporated areas of those counties in which the governing authority of a county does not provide any of the services enumerated in paragraph (1) of this subsection to inhabitants of the unincorporated areas. In fixing the ad valorem tax millage rate for the year 1984 and any year thereafter, the governing authorities of such counties shall be authorized and directed to reduce such ad valorem tax millage rate on taxable property within the unincorporated areas of such counties to offset any of the proceeds derived from any tax provided for in this chapter which cannot be expended pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

      (b) In the adoption of the budget utilizing any of the funds derived from the tax imposed by Code Sections 33-8-8.1 and 33-8-8.2 the governing authority of a county shall specify in such budget the amount of such funds expended as authorized by paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of this Code section or used to reduce ad valorem taxes as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this Code section. Said budget shall also specify the amount of any other funds expended for such purpose or purposes as are authorized to be expended for services referred to in paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of this Code section. Such provisions shall be spread on the minutes of the meeting at which such budget is adopted.

(Note from the Editor: For those interested in the county budget, it is available in email form and will not cost you $0.25 per page.)
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SPECIAL CALLED MEETING PIKE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FEBRUARY 7, 2007 5:30 PM

The Pike County Board of Commissioners held their Special Called Meeting on Friday, February 7, 2007 at 5:30 PM in the Pike County Commissioners Meeting Room, Zebulon, Georgia. Members present were presiding Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and Commissioner Parrish Swift and Commissioner Tommy Powers. County Attorney Tom Morton was also present.

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED THE PIKE COUNTY SPECIAL CALL MEETING TO ORDER.

CHAIRMAN FRY ASKED EVERYONE TO STAND FOR THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED FOR APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

An addition to the agenda for consideration - The Fire Department Rescue Truck.

MOTION
Commissioner Swift made a motion to approve the Special Call Agenda as amended for February 7, 2007 at 5:30 pm. A second was given by Commissioner Willis. 4-0 vote.

CHAIRMAN FRY BROUGHT UP THE TOPIC OF THE RESCUE VEHICLE

The commissioners discussed the purchase of a Dodge Ram 3500 Rescue Truck that is sitting on the lot in Thomaston. List price of this truck is $47,320.00. The County can purchase this truck for $35,877.00. The truck is a 2006 and has a Cummins diesel engine.

(Note from the Editor: Commissioner Fry said that the Fire Dept has been looking for a Rescue Truck for close to a year. Said that Insurance Rollback money from the state would have enough to cover this and that Insurance Rollback money should go toward Public Safety purchases since questions have arisen in the past about this. State law allows this money to be spent on more than just Public Safety purchases--see the explanation above. The truck is Inferno Red. Advised that they need to let the guy in Thomaston know something in the next couple of days. Chairman Fry mentioned getting some more information and presenting it at the Friday Special Called Meeting.

Commissioner Swift brought up the SPLOST expenditures for the Fire Departments. Concerned with getting Fire Department renovations expedited with the bond referendum so citizens can see a return on their SPLOST. Chairman Fry advised that he and the Interim County Manager had gone to the bank last week and signed the necessary documentation on this to get this rolling.)

CHAIRMAN FRY CALLED FOR EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

MOTION
Commissioner Powers made the motion to exit open session and enter into executive session at 5:40 pm. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Willis. 4-0 vote.

MOTION
Commissioner Willis made the motion to exit executive session and re-enter open session at 8:14 pm. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swift. 4-0 vote.

MOTION
Commissioner Willis made the motion to adjourn at 8:15 pm. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swift. 4-0 vote.

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Pike County Commission Regular Called Meeting January 30, 2007
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 5
Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Tommy Powers, Commissioner Jake Garner, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and Commissioner Parrish Swift Also in attendance: County Attorneys Tom Morton and Rob Morton, and Interim County Manager Sean Townsend

  1. approval to amend the January 30, 2007 agenda to reflect the following changes:

    1. add pending litigation to executive session pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

    2. add acquisition of real estate to executive session pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

    3. move executive session to Item V.

    4. deletion of Invited Guest-Jimmy Thomas per his request

    5. deletion of Walker Chandler under New Business, per his request

    6. addition of Joy and Jay Lett under New Business

    7. addition of Barbara Copely under New Business

  2. approval of the Regular Monthly Meeting minutes held January 10, 2007 at 9:00AM

  3. approval to adjourn to executive session

  4. approval to return to regular session

The Commission meeting was very long but the BOC allowed public comment at some points during the meeting and held the regular Town Hall Meeting afterward which allowed citizens to speak out on whatever topic they chose.

The executive session was moved to the beginning of the meeting so a very packed meeting room waited until the open meeting resumed at 7:40 p.m.

Motion to appoint David Brisendine to the 4th District CATF slot that was empty from a resignation. Approved 5-0.

Discussion on the Meeting Protocol Ordinance ended with attorney Tom Morton advising that CATF Subcommittee Meetings need to be posted and delivered to the paper in order to be legally advertised. Legal advertisements do not have to be bought for these meetings. CATF meetings need to be posted and published in the paper in order to be legal.

Discussion was held at several points about the county website and the fact that it has not been updated since December. The BOC office is following up on this.

The Capital Improvements Subcommittee report was brought by Don Collins. He asked that the BOC clarify status about the purchase of the old school building. At this point, verbal commitments had been made but no meetings between attorneys and other officials. A motion was made for the County Manager and County Attorney to meet with the School Board Attorney regarding the possible acquisition of the old elementary school. Approved 5-0.

BOC voted 5-0 to implement laser signatures for Chair and Vice-Chair on payroll checks though all other checks will continue to require real signatures.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA) made a request for benches, trashcans, and pruning of pecan trees on the Courthouse Square. BOC motion to take $1,500 out of buildings and grounds for pruning pecan trees. Approved 5-0.

Discussion on whether this is an acceptable expenditure of SPLOST funds according to state law and assurance that the State has been contacted on why we continue to receive $4,000 to $6,000 even though all businesses have been notified of the correct tax amount. Motion for purchase of 5 Benches and 5 Trash receptacles plus freight for the Courthouse Square to be funded from funds leftover from the past SPLOST that continue to come into the county for $10,925.00. Approved 4-1. Garner opposed. (Note from the Editor: If you own a business in Pike County, the correct sales tax at this time is 6% and not 7%.)

Motion for approval to accept the right of ways for Sells Road. 5-0.

District 1 Commissioner Roosevelt Willis brought up problem with abandoned cars and complaints that he has received from citizens. Community Development Director Wendell Becker advised that 6 notices of violation have been sent out. District 2 Commissioner Parrish Swift asked what process commissioners should follow if they get a formal complaint from a citizen. County Attorney Tom Morton advised that they must bring the complaints to the County Manager (CM) who will then take it to Wendell Becker who will actually follow up on the complaint. The CM will be the "go to" person for the Commissioners. (Note from the Editor: This is because individual BOC members are not allowed to give direction to county employees. Only the CM can give instruction to employees.)

Pike citizen and business owner Michael Smith of Bertram's Septic Tank Service gave a description of a liquid waste spray field that he would like to build in Pike County. It would be located close to the current spray field for the City of Zebulon on 86.25 acres and the procedure would take place on the very center of the property. It would be composed of several steps to separate solid waste from the liquid and only the liquid waste would be applied during the land application process.

Smith advised that SB 163 has been proposed which will require each county to provide a facility to unload waste and that Clayton County is the only county in this area that accepts waste matter from outside of their county. Long discussion on septic tanks and the procedure that will be used to separate solid matter and assurance that this will be septic waste only.

Approval to have the County Attorney draw up a letter of intent to comply with Mr. Michael Smith of Bertram’s Septic Tank Service request in forwarding our letter of concurrence with his proposed application process to the State along with his application for permit. 5-0

Discussion about why the grant for water is coming before the Pike BOC when they were not allowed to sign contracts. Explanation was given that this was a grant that was applied and received by Pike County. Approval of award water line bid to Davidson Brothers of Sunnyside GA-grant #05q-y-114-1-3166. 5-0

At 8:45 p.m. the discussion began about Pike County's ambulance contract. Tom Tyree gave a handout to each Commissioner advising that the BOC is faced with a decision to make on the CARE contract or the possibility of Pike County setting up and running its own EMS in about 60 days. (Note from the Editor: I have put in an Open Records Request for the information from the Fire workshop and the handout from this BOC meeting. Keep in mind that this is a standing room only crowd with many CARE Ambulance workers there in support of CARE.)

Pike paid $325,000 for ambulance service over the past year to CARE in what was supposed to be a 2 year contract with a second year automatic renewal. No formal contract was signed so CARE has come back to negotiate their contract with the BOC. According to CARE Director, Dale Campbell, CARE lost $100,000 over the past year because the actual number of transports (not the number of ambulance calls) was lower than was projected in the contract.

Now the BOC must decide whether to continue with $325,000 contract with 1 full-time ambulance and 1 twelve hour ambulance or 2 full-time ambulances for $450,000 on a 3 year contract with a possibility of a 10% increase or decrease or remaining the same each year based on the actual number of pickups. Campbell advised that they have given money back in some cases and that they are in their second year with Lamar County and did not ask Lamar for an increase. Said that CARE would like to work this out. "We want to be here for the long haul," said Campbell.

There was a lot of discussion about what it would take for Pike to have its own ambulance service including necessary insurance, employee raises, benefits, FICA, etc. CARE Director offered to give numbers to the BOC if they decided to rebid our ambulance service instead of continuing with CARE. A workshop will be held on this topic very soon so the BOC can make an informed decision.

Aapproval to go month-to-month for 60 days with Care Ambulance and also bid out the services and consider suggestions from Chief Tyree. 5-0 (Note from the Editor: Thank you to the entire BOC for evaluating this situation and choosing not to make a split second decision on this.)

More later.

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POST AGENDA REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING January 30, 2007 6:30 PM

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 5

Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Tommy Powers, Commissioner Jake Garner, Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and Commissioner Parrish Swift

Also in attendance: County Attorneys Tom Morton and Rob Morton, and Interim County Manager Sean Townsend

  1. approval to amend the January 30, 2007 agenda to reflect the following changes:

    1. add pending litigation to executive session pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

    2. add acquisition of real estate to executive session pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

    3. move executive session to Item V.

    4. deletion of Invited Guest-Jimmy Thomas per his request

    5. deletion of Walker Chandler under New Business, per his request

    6. addition of Joy and Jay Lett under New Business

    7. addition of Barbara Copely under New Business


  2. approval of the Regular Monthly Meeting minutes held January 10, 2007 at 9:00AM

  3. approval to adjourn to executive session

  4. approval to return to regular session

  5. approval for the County Manager and County Attorney to meet with the School Board Attorney regarding the possible acquisition of the old elementary school

  6. approval to appoint David Brisendine to full the 4th district vacancy on the Citizens Advisory Task Force

  7. approval of the monthly reports submitted by County Departments and County Authorities

  8. approval to implement laser signatures of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman for payroll checks only

  9. approval to spend $1500.00 for the pruning of pecan trees in the Courthouse Square

  10. approval of the purchase of 5 Benches and 5 Trash receptacles plus freight for the Courthouse Square for a total expenditure of $10,925.00

  11. approval to accept the right of ways for Sells Road

  12. approval to have the County Attorney draw up a letter of intent to comply with Mr. Michael Smith of Bertram’s Septic Tank Service request in forwarding our letter of concurrence with his proposed application process to the State along with his application for permit

  13. approval of award water line bid to Davidson Brothers of Sunnyside GA-grant #05q-y-114-1-3166

  14. approval to go month-to-month for 60 days with Care Ambulance and also bid out the services and consider suggestions from Chief Tyree

  15. approval to allow final plat as depicted in the final plat drawing of the industrial park off Ethridge Mills Road

  16. approval of appointment of Kenneth E. Riley, II to the Citizens Advisory Task Force

  17. approval of appointment of John C. Morrison to the Citizens Advisory Task Force

  18. approval for Jay and Joy Lett to combine two lots into one lot

  19. approval for Barbara Copely to combine two lots into one lot

  20. approval to issue business license for Tommy Moore on Hwy 109W as a pre-existing use

  21. approval of Proposed Text Amendment to Ordinance 156.188; 156.203; and 156.218

  22. approval of BOA 06-14: special exception to allow for a home occupation at the property of Ricky Revell at 1575 Hemphill Avenue.

  23. approval to adjourn Regular Monthly Night Meeting

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Pike County Board of Commissioners Regular Monthly Meeting January 10, 2007

Brent Taylor, Chairman of Board of Appeals, spoke to Board of Commissioners (BOC) about hiring a professional to take the minutes at Planning Commission and Board of Appeals meetings. Said it is difficult to take minutes and get details correct with 5 people overlapping in conversation even with a tape of the meetings. Planning and Community Development has enough money in budget to pay for stenographer for Planning Commission and Board of Appeals.

County Manager said that the Board of Equalization has asked that Administrative Assistant Nancy Cook be appointed by the BOC to work with their board. Approved. 5-0. Asked that BOC put out for bids on solid waste disposal in county. Approved 5-0. Ambulance Service workshop will be held soon. Contract is up soon. (Note from Editor: Thanks to Commissioner Swift for asking if the public would be allowed to comment at this meeting.)

District 1 Commissioner Willis asked about junk car ordinance. A car must have a current license plate regardless of whether it is visible from the road or not according to state law or the land owner can be cited for running a junk yard.

County Attorney gave a welcome to the new commissioners. Mentioned a letter from Don Collins about the old elementary school and litigation from December 28th.

Tom Tyree read a letter to the BOC about review of the bids on the fire equipment. There was a 3 hour discussion on January 3rd where a list of specifications and compliance was compared against the bids. Recommendation to go with engine that is same brand as our other engines rather than going with lowest bid. (Note from the Editor: Thank you to Commissioner Powers for saying that the BOC ought to rely on recommendation of those who know these fire trucks.)

Attorney Newton Galloway gave a 26 page presentation to the BOC on Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. and the Zoning/Business License Issues that have arisen since the past meeting including the 2005 Dept of Community Development Application which states that the nature of the business is health, sports, fitness, baseball training and tournaments. Details about the two lots including original restrictive covenant filed January 8, 2004 and amendment filed June 10, 2005 which would "specifically allow: Parking lot, Ball field, 8 batting cages, Playground, Picnic area, Swimming pool" and "specifically prohibit: No buildings of any kind, except pavilion..." that was signed by all property owners in the subdivision. Also included a copy of the receipt for Land Disturbance Permit issued in 2005. Galloway walked through the legality for use as a ball field and cited discretion given to Zoning Administrator along with procedure for permit appeal by an aggrieved party. Mr. Paul's appeal was denied by the Board of Appeals on a 3-2 vote on September 21, 2006. a 12/31/06 page of the Pollcat of Pike was in the packet with myth/truth statement by Mr. Billy Paul.

Massey v. Butts County, 637 S.E.2d 385 (2006) is case in which Attorney Galloway lost before the Supreme Court of Georgia. This ruling requires "special damages" for standing, allows no neighborhood challenge for zoning violation or permit issue error absent proof, and requires economic diminuation in value even if the Zoning Administrator decision is error; and the use is not permitted. No challenge can be made by property owner without proof of special damage.

Galloway concluded with Pike County's liability of improper denial of Centerfield's business license and a question of whether the BOC was willing to use tax money to buy this business. As I understand it, Centerfield received the business license for Indoor activities but not the outdoor activities at this time. (Note from the Editor: Sorry this was so long but I figured I would give a pretty good run down since I paid for the information.)

Chris Curry, Director of the Pike Agribusiness Authority, sought permission to display photographs of Pike County Farmers in the Courthouse. Permission was granted.

Elizabeth Logan had requested that the American Cancer Society be allowed to use the room at the Senior Center for a Relay for Life meeting on January 23, 2007. Permission was granted.

Dave Cunningham was referred to the Board of Appeals for a variance in order to get a building permit for his workshop because our zoning does not allow a workshop in the front of the house.

Barbara and Keith DeLine applied for a Special Exception to have a permitted home occupation at their home. 5-0 approved with stipulations.

Tina Yancey Oliver applied for a special use as permitted through special exception to her property on Wilder Road. Approved 5-0 with stipulations.

John Sell applied for re-classification of property on Sell and and Liberty Roads. Approved 5-0 with stipulations.

Ken Palmer dba Creek Path Developments, LLC requested a review and approval fo the Final Plat for residential development on Sell Road. Approved 5-0 with stipulations.

Estimates on a Recreation Authority/Recreation Department/Road Department Maintenance Facility were presented by Mike Betts. The project would combine money from these entities into one Universal Steel building that can be expanded at a later point but will contain the office and maintenance space that is needed right now.

Commissioner Willis gave a brief overview of what he saw on his tour of the facilities and he advised that the County needs to do something about the state of our facilities as quickly as possible. Motion was made to allow Mr. Betts to look into this issue and bring more information before the BOC. 5-0

BOC went into executive session for the purposes of personnel and pending litigation at 11:50 a.m. and returned to the meeting room at 12:55 p.m. Vote to enter Open Session at 1:00 p.m.

BOC voted to lift 90 day moratorium on Community Development Director Wendell Becker with instructions not to authorize anything that is not allowed in Residential as a permitted or accessory use. Non-residential that are not expressly permitted as a permitted or accessory use must go through special exceptions process. Approved 5-0.

Jake Garner was elected Vice-Chairman. Approved 5-0.

Meeting ended at 1:03 p.m.

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Pike County Board of Commissioners Po Box 377 Zebulon Georgia 30295

POST AGENDA SPECIAL CALL MEETING December 28, 2006 6:00 PM

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: 4

Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Jake Garner, Commissioner Jim Davidson, and Commissioner Jimmy King

BOARD MEMBERS ABSENT: 1

Commissioner Tommy Powers

  1. approval to amend the agenda for December 28, 2006 pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(d)

  2. approval to renew the beer license for Georgia W. Eubanks, dba Georgia’s Country Store, Williamson GA for one year.

  3. approval to issue a new beer and wine license to C-Stores, Inc. dba Mountain View Convenience Store for one year.

  4. approval of the opening of 3 sealed bids for fire apparatus

  5. approval to adjourn at 6:33 pm

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County Commission
Regular Called Meeting, Wednesday, December 13, 9:00 a.m. BOC Meeting Room

Thank you to Jim Davidson and Jimmy King for their service to this county on the Board of Commissioners.

Present: Tommy Powers, Jake Garner, Jim Davidson, and Steve Fry Also present: County Attorney Rob Morton, Interim County Manager Sean Townsend, Secretary Debbie Bradbury, Secretary Nancy Cook

Two meetings were scheduled today. The first was for the regularly scheduled meeting that began at 9:00 a.m. with the second reading of the SPLOST Bond Resolution scheduled for 11 a.m.

Lanier Boatwright from McIntosh Trail presented the 2006 Innovative Award to Pike County for the bacterial tracking on Potato Creek.

Only one commissioner had a presentation to make to the BOC. Davidson gave his front door key to Interim CM Townsend.

Jeannie Haddock invited BOC members to the annual Christmas dinner. The BOC always pays $50 toward either the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. This year, it is toward the Christmas dinner.

Environmental Review Board appointments are John Morrison and Vonda Kay Blount.

A representative from Rapid Communications LLC was present at the meeting and answered questions. This is an asset purchase of Charter Communications by Rapid. Rapid's purpose is to expand in rural areas: provide better service and high speed internet. Morton advised BOC that revisions have been made to agreement that Pike is not satisfied with current service and that the agreement is not non-exclusive. 1st Reading of Rapid LLC 2006 Resolution approving cable franchise. 3-1 with Garner opposing because not happy with current service and doesn't know what we'll get. There was even talk of wireless internet service.

Don Collins made a presentation from the CATF Capital Improvements Committee about the Courthouse and the purchase and renovation of Zebulon Elementary School--where the buses are currently parked--for community use. Cited the Civic Campus Committee recommendations as well as the Pike 2000 and Comp Plan recommendations for renovation of the Courthouse. According to Collins, there would be room for at least 2 courtrooms and 4 offices in that building. (Note from the Editor added on 1.19.07: I have recently read page 50 of the Pike 2000 report and it says: "Based on previous information, inquiry was made into the possibility of using the old school building located on Cemetery Street across from Attorney Walker Chandler's office one block from the Square. It has been determined that the School Board is not considering at this time providing that structure to the County because of the possibility of their needs in the foreseeable future. We also think that because of the lack of parking and estimated high cost of renovation, use of this building would not be the best selection. It appears that replacement of all windows, heating and air conditioning systems, addition of insulation to the building and other major repairs would probably be necessary making renovation very undesireable from a cost standpoint." I would think that the costs of adding an elevator would factor in on the negative side of this discussion as well.)

2.75 acres of land retails for $110,000 with metal building valued at $58,000 for a total of $168,000 with no interest for 8 years with the stipulation that the Board of Education retain parking for the buses for up to the entire 8 years of the loan unless the buses are moved closer to the schools prior to that time. The Elementary School was not factored into the retail value since it is considered a liability because the BOE does not have the funds to repair it. (Note from the Editor added late 12.06: This topic continues to bother me since the meeting. If there is no parking for the next however many years because of the buses, is this really a solution? Many solutions were discussed during the SPLOST meetings including that of moving the jail to a location where expansion was possible and then placing an expandable annex within walking proximity of the Courthouse. I know it will take time to renovate or to build something suitable, but are there other solutions that aren't being examined because this is a quick fix?)

Several grants were mentioned as well as other means of funding this project. The Downtown Development Authority will make another payment to the county as soon as the final business of the newly renovated side of the square is sold so the funds for the first year of this deal could become available since this unexpected project is not factored into our contingency fund. The DDA has offered to enter into a 6 month option on this for the county. Feasibility study and more cannot be begun unless and offer is made on the property. 4-0 to go ahead with this and discuss more at the January meeting. (Note from the Editor: Ben Carter with Carter Watkins Associates--the group who did the Historic Structures Report on the Courthouse that was completed in October 2005--was the invited guest at the July 12, 2006 meeting. The agenda has him as the invited guest. The July 12, 2006 posted minutes are incorrect. Mr. Carter talked about ways to preserve our Courthouse including a grant from the state to preserve a historic structure. Said that the old school is not suitable because the Annex needs to have a single entrance and the ability to be expanded at a later time.)

Tina Yancey Oliver came back before the BOC with a request to change zoning from A-R to M-1 on a piece of property that is located on Hwy 19 in the Blue Flame area. (This is the commercial corridor that is currently in the progress of having a commercial overlay that will essentially govern the businesses that reside and move into this area.) There was much discussion about allowing an Manufacture zoning designation into the Commercial corridor. The Planning Commission recommended not to approve on this parcel. Will have to go before the Board of Appeals for a special exception and then back to the BOC for final approval. (Note from the Editor: How does this work when it was approved by the Board of Apeals before it was approved by the BOC?) Motion to change from A-R to M-1 with stipulation that can only be used for pest control business--Morton advised that cannot say solely for Patriot Pest Control because could be classified as restraint of trade. 3-1 vote with Jake opposing because relative in the area. Board of Appeals member Carol Bass had a question before the final vote but said it did not matter after the vote. She was not allowed to speak.

Industrial Park on Ethridge Mill Road had an approved preliminary plat and this was the final plat presentation. Originally there was a road to go straight to Hwy 341 but this plat routed heavy truck traffic down Whitney Lane, which is paved for heavy truck traffic, onto Ethridge Mill Road, which could sustain damage from heavy trucks. At one point, BOA member Carol Bass had to reprimand the BOC for allowing another citizen to speak when she had not been allowed to speak. An apology was given. Motion to deny based on driveway with impact to residents and damage to Ethridge Mill Road cited as reason for denial. 4-0 vote.

Environmental Review Board study was presented on John Sell's 27.83 acres off of Hwy 341. Advertised as public hearing but this was not correct according to Wendell Becker, zoning administrator.

Citizen Billy Paul made a presentation on the zoning violations at Lot #1 Brookstone Way. There is an outdoor baseball field, which is designated in A-R only, on C-1 zoned property. (Billy Paul attempted to make a formal complaint against zoning administrator Wendell Becker at a Board of Appeals meeting but was not allowed to make his presentation.) Paul's concerns included setting a precedent that will allow for future nuisance zoning decisions--for example, a pet store expanding with a kennel-- and a concern expressed by Mr. Paul that everyone should have to follow the rules. Mr. Paul also expressed a concern that this decision was made during private conversation between the property owner and Becker and not in public meeting. Mr. Paul said that the property owner had the opportunity to bring this ballfield before proper entities and there is no record of owner doing this. (Note from the Editor: I wonder if the property owner was advised that he had to get these permits. Hard to prove without written instructions about this property--which is a mistake that doesn't need to be repeated. A paper trail is essential and protects both the property owner and the county. Addition 1.19.07: Read more about this in the January BOC meeting where I have posted information provided to the BOC by Mr. Grant's attorney.)

Much discussion centered around the need to protect land owners along the commercial corridor, other zoning non-compliant issues, lack of building permits, parking on the county right of way, and the fact that C-1 allows indoor recreation whereas the only place that an outdoor ballfield is allowed is in A-R. A similar problem has happened in the past according to Chairman Fry though he did not give further detail on it. Becker said that he based decision on basis that Centerfield sports supports youth baseball and this was an expansion of his current business and the fact that the previous BOC placed no stipulations on the property. BOC members were adamant that the ballfield should not have been allowed.

Section 156.188(c) says:

(C) The following accessory uses are permitted in C-1 Districts: those determined by the Zoning Administrator to be customarily appurtenant to those uses permitted in this District.

This is the section that says Becker can make a decision without BOC approval; however, Section 156.188(f) says:

(F) All uses not permitted within C-1 Districts by this section are specifically prohibited.

The BOC made a motion not to recognize property as C-1 zoning and any activities to cease until resolved. Any use not applicable to C-1 is not to be allowed. 4-0 vote.

Discussion about possibility of electricity on this site but no building permit for development and possibility of no followup inspection by health department because this lot is not combined with Centerfield Sports lot.

Motion that any business that ceases to comply with our ordinances ceases to be allowed a business license. 4-0 vote.

Billy Paul stressed that permitting process protects us all and should be followed. Also said that the ball got dropped because Planning Commission has to go through zoning office and then through the BOC and each entity should stand on its own with the Planning Commission doing its own recommendations.

Motion for a 90 day moratorium on the zoning administrator's ability to make an accessory use decision without coming before the BOC. BOC to make final approval on accessory use. 4-0 vote. Text amendment change process was initiated.

Beer and wine license approvals: Turner's Grocery on Pedonville Road, Ferguson's Store postponed and discussed in executive session (Note from the Editor: Who regulates the replacement and inspection of underground gas tanks? And who keeps bringing this up?) The Rock Store granted beer and wine license. C stores Corp--Mtn. View Grocery--current owner will have to file for beer and wine license because potential new owner not been a resident for 6 months. A special called meeting will have to be called in order to approve this license.

Motion to change 6 month residency requirement for beer and wine license. 4-0

Frank King addressed the BOC for the 1st reading of SPLOST Bond Resolution. $1.9 million of $2.3 million in bonds were purchased by United Bank and 1st Bank of Pike. This is only the second time that he has ever seen hometown banks outbid the Atlanta banks so that the money will stay in the county. Check will be here on December 20th.

Motion made to recess 9 a.m. meeting and convene the special called meeting that was scheduled for 11 a.m. 3-0 vote. (Note from the Editor: No this is not a typo. One commissioner stepped out for just a minute.) BOC did the 2nd reading meeting and then reconvened the original meeting.

Recreation Authority has several full-time employees that receive their checks from the county. Rec. Authority has ability to hire and fire. Much discussion about how to have the employees work for the county and still be directed to carry out the wishes of the Rec Authority. Basically going to end up with two bosses because will answer to the CM as well as Rec Authority.

Garner asked about the process to end the Water and Sewer Authority and Recreation Authority's ability to act without BOC approval. Morton to give him info from previous meeting.

Motion that Pike County Recreation Department be created and an intergovernmental agreement be reached between county and Rec Authority so that Rec Authority will serve as an adviser with county having final authority to hire and fire employees. 4-0 vote.

12:07 p.m. Executive session for pending litigation and personnel. 1:30 p.m. out of executive session.

Motion to grant beer and wine license to Ferguson's Store until litigation is settled. 4-0 vote.

Motion to adjourn. (Note from the Editor: No mention during open session of the Open Records violation that was written about in the Pike Journal Reporter.)

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County Commission, Special Called Meeting SCM Wednesday, November 29th at 10 a.m.

The 2nd reading of the millage rate and adoption of the millage rate was held this morning. The Board of Commissioners(BOC) also approved the Tax Levy Resolution of 2006. This meeting was short with completion around 10:13 a.m.

The milleage rates are as follows: 12.80 county, 14.873 school, 1.12 school bond, .25 state = 29.043 total.

The BOC went into executive session around 10:03 a.m. and emerged into open session 10 minutes later with a motion to adjourn.

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County Commission, Regular Called Meeting Tuesday, November 28th at 6:30 p.m.

A quorum of three with Jake Garner and Jim Davidson absent. Patsy Riley was honored for her tireless effort on SPLOST. Patsy was gracious and thanked those who worked with her to get SPLOST passed. EOC charge not substantiated. A former deputy was mentioned with this.

The Environmental Review Board is looking for a few good people. Meeting on Thursday December 7th. Fill out a form in the Commission Office. Thanks to Chief Tyree and those who are working to make sure that our fire fighters have the equipment that they need. We are buying equipment in bulk and looking around for the best deal to get our equipment. Buying local is good for everybody too.

Cancellation of the December 26th meeting.

Grand Jury presentation on the jail and courthouse. Thanks to Judge Hankinson for taking the initiative to make sure citizens know that both the jail and the courthouse are in dire need of renovation. The BOC voted 3-0 to use $15,000 out of contingency to repair the electrical problem in the courthouse. (That leaves how much out of the $100,000 in contingency that was not already earmarked?) Thanks to Eddie Parks, Anthony Brown, and Sandy Blalock for taking time out of your schedules to do your duty on the Grand Jury first of all, and again for taking time out of your schedule to present the Grand Jury findings to the BOC at this meeting.

3-0 vote to postpone Rapid Communications LLC Resolution. There will be a live Nativity scene on the Courthouse square on December 9th for the Christmas on the Square celebration. 3-0 vote to allow the county attorney to be on county insurance.

Billy Paul postponed his discussion on zoning violations. Lester Ranew Jr. received preliminary plat approval on his major subdivision application.

Tina Yancey Oliver request to change from A-R to M-1 for a pest control business received a lot of comment. A petition with 95 names was turned into the BOC and numerous members of the community and two different boards spoke on this item. Discussion ranged from business friendly community to fears about groundwater contamination to the state mandated Comp Plan and the commercial overlay for this section of Hwy. 19.

The fact that this item has already been approved for a special exemption by the Board of Appeals (BOA) was discussed tonight as well since the BOA recommended approval on property that is currently zoned A-R. (I'll get BOA and Planning Commission minutes on here shortly.) 3-0 vote to postpone this item.

Millage Rate 1st reading was held tonight with a 2nd reading scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. 12.80 mills per $1,000 accessed valuation for the BOC. 14.873 mills per $1,000 accessed valuation for the Board of Education. 1.171 mills total on school bonds. Will soon have a better link to info.

Jimmy Bass asked about the status of Pullians Road. The road is underwater when an agreement with the City of Griffin was made that it was to be reopened and restored to its original condition. The CM will contact the City of Griffin's CM and go from there.

Jimmy Bass also asked about the status of whether or not the BOC could remove a person from a board or authority. He asked specifically about the BOC removing exCM Tommy Burnsed from the Water and Sewer Authority. A determination was made to allow Burnsed to remain on the Authority. It was a "policy decision". No action was taken on this at any earlier time or tonight.

20 minutes in executive session and a motion was immediately made to adjourn. No Town Hall Meeting tonight. That is unusual because the nightly meeting usually has a Town Hall Meeting afterward. Meeting tomorrow morning.

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Special Called Meetings November 22, 2006 5 and 6 p.m.

2007 LARP (Local Assistance Road Program) list was approved by the BOC. This list was tabled earlier by the BOC and was due on September 1st. This list consists of 6 roads. The DOT will choose from that list which roads to pave. 100% state funds. 5-0 vote.

SPLOST update. Money to be here in December and working on artwork to let citizens know that items were purchased with SPLOST funds.

There was no public hearing on this budget tonight. Instead, the commissioners--mainly Jim Davidson who ran the show tonight--addressed the department heads who were present and asked questions of others in the audience about line items.

County attorney Rob Morton addressed the legalities of the actions from the last meeting. Morton advised that the BOC has the authority to make revisions to the county manager's (CM's) budget. Davidson said repeatedly that he based his numbers from his first budget on the CM's original budget. This would have made Davidson's first budget a revision of the CM's budget even though the numbers presented at this meeting were vastly different than that presented at the previous meeting.

Davidson's previous budget did not cover some departments' FICA and state mandated salaries. This budget included the 4% increase in employee salaries from the last budget as well as the state mandated 2% COLAs (Cost of Living Adjustment), and state mandated raises. The interim CM advised that Pike County had just received documentation about these items this past week. vAlso included in contingency in this new budget was $25,000 to supplement the new CM if needed based on experience, $20,000 for gas and diesel, and $100,000 for other items. The $55,000 for the new county planner is supposed to be in there too. The interim CM advised the BOC that ACCG had advised him to have an amount in contingency equal to what it takes the county to operate for 1 to 3 months. 1 month is equal to 5% of the overall budget or about $550,000. At the end of the meeting, the BOC put a total of $250,000 in contingency.

The BOC went through the budget line by line with Davidson asking most of the questions. There was a thick book on the table with documentation from department heads to support the amount requested for their budgets. (Note from the Editor: One or two workshops would get the BOC and the department heads on the same page as well as notifying the public of these expenditures in our budget. It would be more efficient and infinitely more professional than what the public has endured this year. Department heads need to be sure that they have written documentation for their budgets from now on too because that was a problem with some of the commissioners.)

The flyover for the Tax Assessor's Office and software needed to use this information and disseminate it within county departments was included in this budget. Several departments will use this information and money was saved by combining this overhead flight of Pike County with that of Upson County. (Note from the Editor: Any time that our department heads go out of their way to save taxpayer dollars, they deserve recognition and thanks for their efforts. This flyover and the accompanying software will bring several departments up to par with surrounding counties and be used for 911 as well. Thank you to everyone involved in this effort including those who voted for these 2 items.)

As of October 31, 2006, there was $800,000 in the fund balance with many outstanding expenditures such as rock, fuel, and other items including a $10,000 equipment bill for one department that hasn't come in yet. The final audit on expenditures that is required to close our books will be completed sometime early next year.

Here are the final tallies that the BOC worked together to bring to fruition tonight. $8,838,200 is the final budget amount. $250,000 of that amount will be added to the remaining fund balance at the close of this fiscal year with earmarks on part of the contingency for specific uses. The BOC will still have a rollback in the millage rate. The final vote was 4-1 with Tommy Powers voting against the budget. Listen to Fun 101 to find out why. Check the Calendar of Events for the next BOC meeting and the upcoming Millage Rate meeting date and time.

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Special Called Meeting SCM November 10, 2006 11:00 a.m.

This meeting was called at the end of the Regular Called Meeting RCM on November 8, 2006 to take the place of the Millage Rate meeting that had been advertised to take place on November 8, 2006 at 11 a.m. but wasn't held because the morning meeting went straight through the advertised 11 a.m. meeting.

The commissioners went into executive session for the purposes of discussing personnel pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-14-3(6) for close to an hour.

A motion was made upon their return to authorize the interim county manager to submit an advertisement for a reading on the budget for Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 5 p.m. with a meeting for the second reading immediately following at 6 p.m.

MOTION:
Commissioner Garner made a motion to authorize the Budget Officer to notify the newspaper of the 1st reading to adopt the budget that was presented by Commissioner Jim Davidson on Wednesday, November 22, 2006, at 5:00 pm, and the second reading at 6:00 pm. A second was given by Commissioner Powers. 4-1 vote. with Commissioner King opposing.

Chairman Fry stated that the county needs to notify the Tax Commissioner to re-advertise the date for the adoption of the millage rate and stated that the School Board also needs to be notified of the delay.

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History Behind the Story
Past Budget Adoption Dates

October 9, 1996 for 1997 Budget October 31, 1997 for 1998 Budget
October 14, 1998 for 1999 Budget October 13, 1999 for 2000 Budget
October 7, 2000 for 2001 Budget October 30, 2001 for 2002 Budget
October 29, 2002 for 2003 Budget September 10, 2003 for 2004 Budget
September 10, 2004 for 2005 Budget
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Regular Scheduled Meeting RSM November 8, 2006 9:00 a.m.

Present: Commissioners Jake Garner, Jim Davidson, Jimmy King, Tommy Powers, County Attorneys Rob Morton and Tom Morton, and Secretary Debbie Bradbury.

Absent: Commission Chairman Steve Fry and County Manager Sean Townsend.

Vice-Chairman Tommy Powers began the meeting at 9:30 a.m. The 2006-2007 budget was tabled until the end of the meeting in hopes that Fry would be able to attend at that time so the entire Board of Commissioners BOC could vote on the budget. Fry was unreachable by cell phone during the meeting and did not make it to the meeting by adjournment. Two items of major importance were discussed at this meeting: Pike County's first reversion of property (rezoning) and the budget. PC 06-20 is being rezoned from Planned Residential PR to Agricultural Residential AR because construction has not begun based on Pike Code of Ordinances with PR zoning. Approval for apartments was given in July, 2004. The ordinance says that one additional year can be given after the first year. One of the co-owners showed up at the meeting to speak with the BOC since he just bought this property in January, 2006. An attorney for the co-owners showed up to argue the case for his client.

The co-owner advised the BOC that he has spent tens of thousands of dollars on this property. The attorney for the other co-owners gave a time line on the property from the application for PR zoning to the agreements that were worked out with Water and Sewer Authority and the City of Griffin.

King made a motion to leave as PR zoning and allow the permit to be issued. His motion died for lack of a second. Garner made a motion to proceed with reversion and have the property owner go back before the Planning Commission to rezone this property. Davidson seconded for discussion. 3-1 vote. King dissenting.

There was a short break where another attempt was made to locate Fry. County attorney Rob Morton left during this time and Tom Morton took over his duties. The county manager was not present at this meeting.

The BOC noted that the school board and City of Zebulon will be forced to dip into cash reserves if the BOC didn’t act on the budget because the county has not been able to set the millage rate so this was a major issue. Davidson brought his own budget spreadsheet before the BOC that was based on the 2005-2006 budget of all paid items through October 31, 2006.

(Note from the editor: This is a problem because any bills that come in during the next two months that will be paid and credited against the 2005-2006 budget were not acknowledged. The budget won’t be officially closed out for the 2005-2006 year until probably January even though the new fiscal year has started. We did this last year too.)

Davidson presented a budget that gave the 4% raise to employees, would cover the new insurance, and 5% over the 2005-2006 budget for all departments from November 1, 2005 until October 31, 2006. Davidson told the BOC that they could add in contingency money and new employees if needed and remove or leave in capital outlay if they chose to.

(Note from the editor: Budget jargon is not simple, but I’ll try to boil it down for those who choose not to participate in this hair-pulling process. There are state mandates that tell our county government what it must provide without providing any money for it. FICA and state mandated raises are in this category.)

Several department heads and members defended their budgets and said that they would be in non-compliance with state law or over their budget before they even begin the year if the current numbers were left in place. The BOC was even cautioned about having some reserve money in case of a disaster by one member of the audience. The BOC heard some of the arguments and acted on them but left most of it in place. The budget went from Davidson’s original starter number of $7,982,781.60 to $8,382,781.60. 3-1 vote. King dissenting.

A special Called Meeting to set the Millage Rate was announced for November 10, 2006 at 11 a.m.

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