Videos: SPLOST VII open up, Prisoners, Water, Roads, and Costs @ LCC 2013-07-23

The closest we’re apparently going to get to a town hall or public hearing about the county’s SPLOST VII list: Chairman said “we’re going to open up” for comments. The only taker was Airport Authority Executive Director Jim Galloway. Confusion about the minutes continued. They appointed Ellen Golden to the Department of Family & Children’s Services Board. They hired prisoners again to compete with local labor. They approved a letter from Lovell Engineering to GA EPD on behalf of the county; it wasn’t clear whether any of the Commissioners knew about all the previous violations at the same water treatment plant. They accepted Barrington subdivision infrastructure, whereever that is, saying it wouldn’t cost the county anything, except, of course, maintaining those roads as county development sprawls outwards. They approved their their Directors and Officers insurance. This was all with a bare 3 of 5 quorum, because Commissioners Raines and Powell didn’t show up for work. A citizen thanked the Commission for increasing library funding.

Here’s the agenda, with links to the videos and a few notes. See also the previous morning’s Work Session.

WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JULY 22, 2013, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor
  1. Call to Order
  2. Invocation

    Minister County Commissioner John Page mentioned “the blessings of liberty”, and his usual “decently and in order”, plus thanks for “our staff and all of those who are a part of our local government”. Apparently that doesn’t include citizens who might want to have input on SPLOST VII.

  3. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  4. Minutes for Approval
    1. Work Session — July 8, 2013
    2. Regular Session — July 9, 2013

      Commissioner Joyce Evans wanted to know if the confused changes from the previous morning’s Work Session were incorporated into the minutes. County Manager Joe Pritchard had wanted to know what Commissioners had actually approved about two items where purchase orders had been “not present”. This time, Chairman Bill Slaughter said those changes were incorporated. If the Commission kept their own videos, Pritchard could have just looked at those and seen what had happened. If the county put all the relevant paperwork with the agenda, Commissioners and staff would know what they were voting on. If they put those materials online, as many other places do, such as Travis County, Texas, Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia, and Glynn County, Georgia, we’d all know what our elected government was doing with our tax dollars.

  5. Special Presentation & Consideration — Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VII

    Moved to be last in the meeting.

  6. Appointment – Department of Family & Children’s Services Board

    They approved Emily Golden with no discussion; see yesterday’s Work Session for much more.

  7. For Consideration
    1. Prison Detail Contracts

      Three details at $39,500 each, no increase from last year, said Public Works Director Robin Cumbus; approved with no discussion. See the previous morning’s Work Session for what Commissioners Marshall, Slaughter, and Powell had to say then. Also note the empty chairs during the vote: Commissioners Raines and Powell didn’t show up.

    2. Letter to Environmental Protection Division concerning Alapaha Water Treatment Plant Upgrade

      Utilities Director Mike Allen said it was about a letter from Lovell Engineering to GA EPD on behalf of the county. the previous morning’s Work Session for what that’s about. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know “the water is good now, right?”; see separate post. April Huntley obtained the letter by open records request: why doesn’t the county post such things on the web along with their agenda packets? The Utilities Director didn’t mention the 15 “Health Based Violations” and the 4 “Complete Failure to Report” plus the 1 “Monitoring, Routine Major (TCR)”, all in the last ten years, but Chris Graham found those on U.S. EPA’s website. The Commission proceeded to approve the letter. It wasn’t clear whether any of the Commissioners knew about all those previous violations.

    3. Contract with GA Department of Transportation for Off System Safety Action Program

      County Engineeer Mike Fletcher said the county has received a grant from GDOT for striking, signs, and raised pavement markers for 30.79 miles of road, for $142,491.75. See previous morning’s Work Session for Fletcher’s promise to give the Commissioners a list of the affected roads.

      This time, Commissioner John Page wanted to know if the grant applied to roads like Snake Nation Road with a speed limit of 45. Fletcher said no, only for roads with 55 MPH speed limit. Page wanted to know if work would stop where the speed limit changed. A: Yes.

      Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know if it would cover fixing holes. A: Just painting striping and reflectors. Marshall also wanted assurance that it was a grant that wouldn’t affect the county’s budget. A: Yes. Marshall moved, and it passed unanimously.

    4. Adopt Resolution accepting infrastructure for Barrington Subdivision Phase I

      Engineer said it was mostly complete but they were waiting on a punch list from the developer before signing off on it. See previous morning’s Work Session. This time Commissioner John Page wanted to know what kind of costs would be involved. Fletcher said he didn’t know about costs in contracts between the developer and his contractors. Page clarified whether there would be costs involved in accepting the infrastructure. Fletcher said no. Well, except for maintenance public works which is already part of the budget. Yet that is a cost. A cost of sprawl. Where is this Barrington subdivision? Somewhere off of Bemiss Road. Where exactly? Unless you could read that one map they put up on the screen, you don’t know. Commissioner Marshall moved, Page seconded, and it passed unanimously.

      Barrington Subdivision off Bemiss Road

    5. ACCG IRMA Liability Program Renewal

      This turns out to be, among other things, Lowndes County’s Directors and Officers insurance; here is a copy I obtained through open records request. See also previous morning’s Work Session. This time Commisioners chose the $2,500 deductible. The minutes say:

      Human Resources Director, Kevin Beals, presented the renewal in the amount of $556,713.00. Commissioner Page made a motion to approve the renewal with a $2,500.00 deductible as recommended, Vice Chairperson Evans second. All voted in favor, no one opposed. Motion carried.
    6. Resolution for ACCG-GEBCorp Retirement Eligibility Amendment

      Couple of new employees missed being in county’s retirement plan, and this deals with that. See previous morning’s Work Session. This time Commissioner Marshall moved, Commissioner Joyce Evans moved, and it passed unanimously.

  8. Reports-County Manager

    County Manager Joe Pritchard reminded everyone of the Millage Hearing 8:30 AM Friday 26 July 2013.

  9. Citizens Wishing to be Heard Please State Name And Address

    Idelle Dear handed Commissioners a thank-you card for increasing library funding; see separate post.

  10. SPLOST VII presentation

    Resumed from earlier in the meeting. Note the empty chair for Finance Director Stephanie Black. Also the VDT reporter; see Stuart Taylor’s VDT article. Staff gave the same slide show as in the Work Session, such as $26,839,000 Roads, Streets & Bridges, yet the public has never seen a list of named projects for Roads, Streets & Bridges. When I asked County Engineer Mike Fletcher for that list before the Work Session, he said he didn’t know exactly which roads and bridges it would be.

    The county did get around to posting the slides on its own website between the Work Session and the Regular Session, but there’s no detail in there such as which roads and bridges.

    County Chairman Bill Slaughter then “opened up” the meeting to public comment. Very few public showed up to comment, since nobody knew beforehand this was going to happen.

  11. 5. SPLOST VII request from Executive Director of Airport Authority

    The one public speaker was Jim Galloway, Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority, who noted SPLOST VII included nothing for the airport from the county or any of the cities. See separate post.

  12. Anyone else? Adjourn.

    County Chairman Bill Slaughter asked if anyone else would like to come forward, presumably to speak about SPLOST VII. I for one, did not, because I like to prepare before speaking, and I didn’t want to serve as an excuse of “you already spoke” for there being no town halls or public hearings about SPLOST VII.

    Commission adjourned.

Here’s a video playlist:

Videos: SPLOST VII “open up”, Prisoners, Water, Roads, and Costs
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 23 July 2013.