Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Pike County Commissioners Budget Workshop
Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 5 p.m.

ZEBULON - All four commissioners were present with the exception of Tim Guy. Also present were County Clerk Angela Blount, Kay Landers, County Attorney Rob Morton, and County Manager Ron Alexander.

County Manager Ron Alexander advised that this is based on meetings with department heads and the database was built from there. There is still some work to do. Today is asking about their opinion on things. This is a balanced budget. He said that he has been working on this for 6 months. He hired Kay Landers back and she put the numbers into the computer from what he had on paper. [Note from the Editor: This situation is dealt with at the next meeting because technically, her first day was not until the following week. I put in a ton of open records in order to find out the information that is included in the June 10, 2020 BOC meeting. Look for the long comment in blue. Nothing is personal against Ms. Landers in anything that I have written; I just didn't like how Ron went about hiring her. I thought that he broke policy and certainly did not involve the commissioners in his decisions regarding her hiring with regard to the benefits that she was given.]

Tax Commissioner Donna Chapman spoke first. Things are gonna change. We don’t know if there are errors or what will happen with the appeals. If we are close to our numbers, we will be fine. We are looking at a 12.243 rollback. The impact is going to be on the homeowner. There hasn’t been a reevaluation in 10 to 15 years. It’s supposed to be done every 3-5 years. Commercial will be done next year, but this year the homeowners will be hurting this year.

The deadline for appeals in July 17. There won’t be final numbers until the end of August. What they have done is get things in line with actual values. We have until September 1 to get this to the state. We can file an appeal if we had to. It’s life. You’re gonna have taxes to have a community and it run like it’s supposed to. CM Alexander said that there has been some restructuring. Utilities, etc. have been recombined rather than staying with individual departments. This was done because the bills are estimated. If it’s in the 13 account, it does the following: 1) this reduces clerical time because it was being approved in the department and then again in the BOC office and 2) the leftover funds that were from estimated bills will be in one place.

Tax Commissioner needs part-time to help out. Part-time to full time in Tax Assessor.

Building and Grounds has gone up because he was getting hit with costs during the pandemic like the safety shields in the offices. There are also other county properties that need some work. This is basically an investment with projected expenses.

Courts went down this year because the utilities were put in another line item.

Clerk of Superior Court had a full-time person who got a raise this year because of the amount of work that she is doing.

District Attorney’s Office went up because they needed a full-time investigator for Pike County because sharing an investigator with Upson and Upson was paying for their share and ours too. We are going to pay our fair share.

There was an increase in Magistrate. A part-time position went to full-time.

Probate Court had some processing costs that went up with mandated state cost for equipment that increased the budget. Ron wants to see if we can see if we can recoup this money from the state at some point.

Inmate care went up a little too. There is documentation to back up the change. Jason Proctor asked Ron to go over the reason for the increase. Covering deductibles for inmate care is the reason.

The Sheriff’s Office went up due to cars and other committed funds. One of the cars was wrecked and they had to pay for that out of pocket but was supposed to be reimbursed later on.

The Jail went down a little.

The Coroner went down a little.

Ambulance contract went up according to the past meeting.

Public Works went up some but this incorporates road improvements. We have 2 graders working the entire county right now in a 2 month cycle for about 180 miles of roads. Ron said that Todd doesn’t have the resources needed to all that we need. We are going to start working on planning to build our data bases for roads and utilities as well. Franchise fees are going to be included as well so these companies will be paying the county for use. Special projects will be something that we concentrate on next year. We are going to devise a road plan in a separate workshop. Briar said that Todd and a former county manager worked on a road plan several years ago. Ron said that we are still working from this and are about to complete Flat Rock Church and Buffington. Todd said that LMIG extra funds on these two roads could be rolled over to other projects. The current SPLOST is up to date with one final road to complete: Rosehill Road. That will happen later this year.

Solid Waste has gone up. The company that we are using for EPD requirements. We were hoping to close these out but until we are allowed to close out, we have to do what is required for updates, etc. There is a hazardous waste trust fund that we may be able to tap into. We have gotten two checks: $81,000 in 2016 and $30,000 in the last couple of years.

The recycling center is needing another person and another baler. The other baler is shot. They were picking up from the Sheriff’s Office and Senior Center as well as the roadside debris. People in this county like recycling, and it is a benefit for our citizens. Briar was concerned about money. The baler is owned by the county. We were running the place for $225,000 back in 2008 so Pike Countryside has done well by the county with this because they started out working for us for nothing.

The Health Department wants to be giving out various shots to the community as needed. Typhoid, Hep A and B, Polio, etc. They have asked for a $6,100 increase in order to buy these serums.

Senior Center went up a little. They are looking for a new vehicle and some employee help. Maybe a temporary thing. A kitchen in Thomaston was cooking the meals but the drivers decided to no longer help with this. It’s about $25,000 for the vehicle.

61 Parks and Rec will be reviewed and might change. They want to close in a building out there and make a community center. They have about $300,000 that might cover most of that, but they also need a parking lot and a water line to the building for fire protection. You have to have infrastructure in order to finish the building so that parking lot and expanding that water line are going to be examined closely.

65 Libraries received an increase this year. One of the positions went to assistant manager.

71 Water resources went down a few thousand dollars.

72 County Agent went up a little.

74 Planning and Development has had a 20% increase in growth in building permits during the past couple of years. We are going to start abiding by state law and issuing development permit. The VA Permit is our first. The service delivery agreement is part of this project with the city and county working together on this. We have a building inspector but they need some help over there. A new building inspector will be added as well as a raise for the director of Planning and Development. There will be some additional duties to justify this. This is part of a long-term plan to get training, etc. that could go into maybe lowering our ISO rates. Briar asked specifics on Brad’s raise. It’s about a 10% raise. He’ll probably have to start out working about an extra 10 hours a week to begin with, but it will get easier with time and come down to maybe an extra hour a week. Extra paperwork for addressing is going to be part of this. 911 won’t be assigning addresses anymore, and there will be a vehicle from the Sheriff’s Office that will do the measuring for the address for Brad’s office. There is a $1,600 cost on this. There will need to be an ordinance revision when this is done. [Note from the Editor: Apparently CM Alexander did not even bother to let the commissioners know that he was planning on moving this responsibility from one department to another. This change along with the raise that he intended to pass along with it is addressed more in depth in section h in the June 10, 2020 BOC meeting. Look for another comment in blue.]

75 Industrial Development Authority sent something very last minute. There is a discussion about contingencies that will take place at a later time.

76 Agribusiness went up a few thousand dollars because of a state mandate.

77 Economic Development went down a little because of budget restructuring.

Fire Department is going to get an increase overall due to equipment needs and other needs. He will spell that out better at Wednesday’s meeting.

90 EMA Went up a little with a new building coming online.

91 Animal Control went up $100,000. We have until December to spend $200,000 which won’t be a problem. The animal control officer is working on call and going to need someone helping when we get the building built. One person in a department can’t do everything. Our code enforcement officer is the backup, but code enforcement has other duties. She has asked for 2 part-time people. Briar said that when we accepted the donation, we would build the building with that. There is $101,700 in here for capital outlay. Briar said that we are not altering our schedule on this and were not planning to open this as full blown animal control yet.

At 6:57 p.m. they began talking about how this needs to get a little shorter and get finished out. Questions can be asked by email or phone call.

Impact fees need to be added so it isn’t done.

A possible 2% raise was discussed. We are looking at an 18% raise in insurance. Discussion whether the county can absorb this because we may be up to the original rollback. We went for years with nothing. Then 5 years ago there was a 2 or 3% when we could. There wasn’t one last year, but there was in other years.

Reevaluation Discussion: Greg said there is enough value increase and there is enough to fix the errors out there. For people who say, overnight my home value went up $100,000. Some of them did because they needed to. Look at the value and see if that is correct. If there is a problem with the value, let them know. The tax number hasn’t been set up. Come to the office and sit down with the office to discuss things. 770-567-2002.

It’s probably been longer than 10-15 years. Pike County is fixing to grow and we need to be using the correct numbers. Numbers are coming from their own neighborhood. This is how government is supposed to work.

Motion to adjourn. 7:08