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You can find the link to the audio of Tuesday’s meeting here.

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The Screven County Board of Commissioners convened for their regularly scheduled commission meeting on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. The following items were discussed and/or voted upon.

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Call to Order All Commissioners present with Commissioner Edwin Lovett attending and voting via Zoom.
Invocation & Pledge of Allegiance
Agenda Approval
Minutes (approval from May 11, 2021 meeting) Motion by Triplett, second by Lovett, 6-0

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Appearances
  • Coroner James Strickland – Strickland appeared to discuss the possibility of purchasing a building for the county morgue.

Strickland told Commissioners he was requesting the commission approve a purchase of a metal 20x10x7 prefab building to place on the property where the Sheriff’s Office currently is. Additional insulation, wiring, and painting would be necessary before it could be used and the refrigeration unit would then be moved from the hospital to the building. He said he contacted JD Meadows and a local hardware store in early May and was quoted $7,686.90 for the building, materials, and labor. Strickland cited security and a streamlined process for his reason for selecting the Sheriff’s office. He asked commissioners to consider the request very seriously.

Commissioner Warren asked Strickland why there was a decision to move from the hospital at all. Strickland said there have been some issues with deceased individuals who were found several days after their passing and the odor was causing an issue for hospital operations that could take days to resolve. He said there was an instance last year and more recently as well.

Commissioner Willis asked if there was an issue with the coolers, which prompted Ms. Lagina from the hospital to mention that the location change would help with the process. While the cooler is county-owned and anyone who goes into the cooler is supposed to go through Strickland or a deputy coroner, the hospital has an obligation to know if a body is in the cooler even though it isn’t responsible for the body itself. Warren said it sounded more like a communication problem.

WIllis asked to table the matter, not because she does not support a move by Strickland, but because she wanted to make sure there were no other issues. She stated that metal buildings are not for long term use and before they spent the money, she wanted to make sure the money was spent on something that would last. Dixon echoed her motion, but because there was no motion on the floor, a motion to table it was not necessary and commissioners agreed to discuss the item next month.

New Business

Appointment/CRC Council – Consideration to fill non-public representative for Screven County to serve on the CRC Council

Romeo made a motion to reappoint Rick Freeman, Warren seconded and it was approved 6-0

Appointment/DFCS Board – Consideration to fill term on DFACS Board

Interim County Manager (ICM) told commission that Debbie Brown recommended S. Hunter was willing to serve another term. No other applications had been received. Warren made a motion to appoint Hunter, Romeo seconded and it was approved 6-0.

Appointment/Hospital Authority – Consideration to fill terms on Hospital Authority Board

Hospital Authority has 3 vacancies – David Boddiford has stated he will serve as Chair in the interim to help the new board get acclimated. He was reappointed as was Dorothy Glisson. Hobson Parker was appointed as well. All approved 6-0.

Appointment/KSB – Consideration to fill terms on the Keep Screven Beautiful Board

KSB recommended reappointing Danielle Brown and Katherine Yules, which commissioners approved 6-0. A third vacancy was not filled and board reported it is hard to find volunteers. Willis asked if the board had enough people already as it is a large Board. County Attorney Hubert Reeves said they could reduce the number of Board members by changing the KSB charter.

Appointment/P&Z Commission – Consideration to fill terms on Planning & Zoning Commission

Following a recommendation by the P&Z Chair, Emerson Scott and Jerry Ionon was reappointed in a 6-0 vote.

Website Fee – Consideration to approve cost of adding additional information and maps to the county website

The $1,500 expense is a one-time expense to build out the county website to include additional information and maps, including things such as maps for voting districts, addresses to polling locations, etc. The website is managed by the Coastal Regional Commission and the company will building additional portals so the county can add more details. Romeo said it will also include a road conditions survey, county updates and goings on and “everything that needs to be on there.”

A motion was made by Romeo, seconded by Lovett, and approved 6-0.

Resolution – Consideration to approve establishing a separate account for LMIG

This comes at the request of county consultant Doug Eaves who suggested sepeating money out to show for accounting reasons. It will no create a new bank account but will be a different entry in the chart of accounts.

A motion was made by Warren, seconded by Triplett, and the resolution was approved 6-0.

LMIG SAP – Consideration to approve application for 2021 LMIG Safety Action Plan and project list

This is part of a grant program that recently came available for safety measures based on a GDOT list of ‘concerning areas in the county.’ The county road department then narrows the list and prioritizes based on the most pressing needs. The grant amount is $75,000 with a 30% match required by the county, which will be paid for by SPLOST funds already allocated for LMIG projects.

OTC Rental Agreement – Consideration to renew agreement with OTC for the rental of the Adult Education Facility

This is a renewal of the agreement with Ogeechee Technical College for a 12-month period in the amount of $1. Commissioners voted 6-0 to accept the agreement.

Resolution – Consideration to adopt resolution pertaining to bidding and purchasing

The Screven County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to amend their local code of ordinances as it pertains to purchasing and bidding.

Effective upon signing by Chairman Will Boyd and Interim County Manager Lori Burke, purchases and contracts up to $5,000 will not require consideration by the Board of Commissioners.

Vote 4-2 — Dixon and Willis opposing.

Read the detailed article on this agenda item: Finding Competitive Bidding ‘Impractical,’ Screven Commissioners Vote to Amend Ordinance

Resolution – Consideration to adopt a resolution setting the Solid Waste Assessment fee for 2021

County attorney Hubert Reeves advised commissioners to set the fee at $100. Warren said the fee was already set so this resolution merely clarifies the act. Reeves said commissioners will have to reconsider the fee in January 2022.

It was approved 6-0.

Code Amendment – Consideration to adopt a code amendment to amend Section 62-36 of Chapter 62, Article II

Resolution – Consideration to adopt a Resolution setting the Fire Protection Fee for 2021

This sets the actual amount for the vacant parcel at $25 and $50 for non-vancant parcels.

Warren made a motion, Romeo seconded and it was approved 5-1, though Boyd expressed his opposition due to his opposition in the meeting in May.

Code Amendment – Consideration to adopt a code amendment to amend Section 30-5 of Chapter 30 of the Screven County code

Reeves told Commissioners that rather this code amendment would allow them to set a lower annual fee for ‘uninhabited lots’ compared to habited lots, which is a result of the May meeting change to collect fire fee assessments on all parcels. Last month, commissioners decided that they would soon have to address the solid waste fee for the same purposes. It will also allow commissioners to split fees and assess different rates for residential and commercial if they see fit.

Motion was made by Warren, seconded by Willis, approved 6-0.

Surplus – Consideration to surplus old vehicles at Fire Dept.

Chief Harvey Cryder said the vehicles are broken and torn up. they’d been added to the list in the past but were never actually surplussed. He told commissioners that one individual is already interested in four or 5 motors.

Commissioners voted 6-0

Vehicle Use Policy – Consideration to approve the adoption of a vehicle use policy and procedures for the operation of county vehicles

Changes were made to the county vehicle policy following a longtime ‘unspoken rule.’ This prohibits people who are not employees from being in county vehicles, holds employees responsible for accidents, and reiterates their clean driving requirement.

Commissioner Dixon asked if there was anything in there for cell phones to which the ICM said there is a state law which covers it. Dixon said he would like to see it added to the policy because citizens have complained about county employees texting while driving county vehicles. Warren said he didn’t want because the law covers it and it can’t prove it. prompting a comment from the audience of ‘The police do!’ Warren also asked that all employees be required to sign off on the policy once it’s implemented. He said he wasn’t sure he wanted them terminated for violating policy, but maybe a warning.

Willis asked if the county had a set policy for reprimanding and was told the personnel policy in general covered that. County Attorney Hubert Reeves told commissioners that the state of Georgia is a ‘right to work’ state and employees can be terminated at will. Willis reiterated that she would like the policies to be updated and see it applied consistently for all employees which Reeves replied to by saying “We have a personnel policy that badly needs updating.”

“Maybe we should work on that,” Willis said.

“I’ve only been talking about it for 20 years,” Reeves replied.

6-0 approved.

AllGreen Proposal – Consideration to approve proposal with Allgreen Services to operate loader at County Transfer Station

A longer article on this issue is forthcoming.

Commissioners voted 4-2 to accept the proposal from Allgreen Services for Allgreen to operate the transfer station and take over the loading of trash..

Discussion – Commissioner Dixon to discuss serving and repairs of front end loader at the transfer station

This item was a matter of discussion only. No action taken due to acceptance of proposal from Allgreen Services.

Road Closure
Public Comment

Read an in-depth review of the public comment section here.

Julian Rodgers: Asked commissioners about preventative maintenance on equipment and whether or not they’re conducting it weekly, monthly, or annually. He

Kevin Hagan: Also addressed preventative maintenance on equipment. He said if the person at the loading dock for trash is not doing well, not working efficiently, or is performing poorly, they should be replaced. Hagan also addressed the competitive bidding. “If someone’s guy can do a better job, quicker job, yeah, put ’em in there, but if there’s no training, no PM that’s causing the equipment to go down, that’s on the management side of this county.”

Tre Evans: Expressed his disappointment about passage of the resolution on competitive bidding.

Laura Mills: Expressed her disappointment about the passage of the resolution on competitive bidding.

Rene Volf: Asked Commissioners how bids are solicited. “Is it put up on a website? How do people even know there is an ability to bid a project?”

ICM explained the road department has a list of individuals interested in receiving bid packets when they are released and it is sent out to all of them each time a project comes up. She also said the county doesn’t have too many other types of projects that they don’t do in house.

Michael Newton: Expressed his desire to have the agendas for the meetings released earlier and published online earlier than the day before the meeting. Citing the standard in a number of other cities and counties, he also asked commissioners to consider moving the public comment portion of the meeting to the beginning of the meeting so people could say their peace before any votes are taken.

“In Effingham County, they allow comments before they get started so people can express themselves. We’re all sitting here, expressing how we feel after y’all already done what you’re going to do, so how do you think that makes us feel when we go home? I wish that would be considered.”

All of the commissioners said they don’t have an issue with agenda item public comment occurring at the beginning of the meeting instead.

Ben Counts: Asked about the county manager position. “It’s been almost a year and a half now, are we any closer to getting a county manager?”
[Boyd: “We have an interim manager right now.”]
“I know but are we going to hire an actual county manager any time soon? Is it going to be run in the paper?”
[Warren: “If we decided to do it, yes, but right now, no.]
“You can’t keep an interim forever.”
[Boyd: We’ve only had one for a month. It hasn’t been long, really”]
“You’ve only appointed an interim county manager for a month? But it’s been a year and a half since we’ve had a county manager at all and your website states that she is the county manager. Has that been official. It doesn’t say interim on the website”
[Boyd: “The website is incorrect.”]
“Are we going to run that in the paper and give people the opportunity to apply?”
[Boyd: “If we get to the point that we have a job opening, I assume, I don’t know about in the paper, but we ran it last time…]
“Well, why isn’t there a job opening, if it’s just being temporarily filled by an interim county manager?”
[Boyd: “We may make Lori the county manager.”]
[Dixon: Right now she’s in training.”]
[Warren: Right now she’s going to school, dealing with ACCG, it’s a lot to deal with being county manager. You’ve got to be able to deal with people. I can talk to you one way but I’ve got to Mike probably a different way. It’s a lot. You can’t talk to everyone the same.”]
“Well that was a rhetorical question that I brought up anyway. I already know who is going to be hired for the county manager. I just like everybody to be on the same page and be clear. Y’all ain’t got to bullcrap me or anything. I know who is going to be the county manager.”
[Boyd: “You don’t believe in promotion from within?]
“I believe in qualifications.”
[Boyd: “I do, too.”]
“And this is a big county, one of the biggest in the state of Georgia, and as a taxpaying resident of this county, lifelong resident, I believe I speak for The People when I say we deserve the most qualified person we can get in all positions.”
[Boyd: You and I will not disagree on that.”]

Counts then said based on the room and the feedback, it’s obvious the competitive bidding vote was not in the best interest of the people but instead what the commissioners wanted.

Commissioner Warren replied, “We’ve got 13,300 at the last Census, so…”

Kevin Hagan replied, “There are 12 seats on this side of the room and four of them felt like they needed to speak up today. That’s a helluva percentage dissatisfied with what happened here this morning.”

Commission/Staff Comments

Dates to remember:
June 17, 2021 – 9AM public hearing for the county budget
June 24, 2021 – 9AM expected adoption of the county’s FY 2022 budget, which begins July 1

Executive Session

Commissioners did not have a need for executive session.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Trash Talk Dominates Conversation at Screven Commission Workshop

Screven Co. Commission Workshop - June 3, 2021

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Screven Commissioners Institute Fire Fee on Vacant Parcels to Comply with Ordinance

Jessica Szilagyi
Written By

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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