BOC adopts re­duced hours for con­ve­nience cen­ters

The Covington News - - NEWS - SAN­DRA BRANDS sbrands@cov­news.com

A res­o­lu­tion re­duc­ing the num­ber of hours that the 11 con­ve­nience cen­ters will be opened barely squeaked by when Chair Keith El­lis cast his vote to ap­prove the change in hours at Tues­day night’s New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) meet­ing.

Com­mis­sion­ers Lanier Sims, Dis­trict 2, and Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz, Dis­trict 3, voted in fa­vor of re­duc­ing the num­ber of hours.

All the con­ve­nience cen­ters will be closed on Sunday and Mon­day, opened Tues­day through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Satur­day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The re­duc­tion in hours of op­er­a­tion will save the county $129,000 un­til Jan­uary, when the cen­ters close. They will not go into ef­fect un­til 30 days after pub­lic no­tice of the new hours is posted.

De­spite the fact the BOC had come to a con­sen­sus on the clos­ing of the cen­ters at its July 12 work ses­sion, Com­mis­sioner J. C. Hen­der­son, Dis­trict 4, con­tin­ued to ob­ject to the ac­tion, say­ing he thought a pub­lic hear­ing on clos­ing the cen­ters should be held. Many of the mem­bers of the au­di­ence shouted out their sup­port of the idea.

Com­mis­sioner Le­vie Mad­dox, Dis­trict 5, said he thought any sav­ings reaped from re­duc­ing hours would van­ish “with county per­son­nel pick­ing up trash” from the woods, side of the road or creek beds.

Be­fore cast­ing the tiebreak­ing vote, El­lis said, “This one has been beat up as much as it can be beat. As a Repub- li­can, I be­lieve in free en­ter­prise, but peo­ple fight change.”

AN­OTHER TIE BREAKER

El­lis needed to cast a sec­ond tie-break­ing vote on whether or not to ac­cept ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment of the Hay-Dur­den law­suit, one of three suits brought against the county by Billy Dur­den and Sam M. Hay III. The case in­volved charges that the county had with­held some of the records Dur­den and Hay had re­quested per­tain­ing to a wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion suit filed by Dur­den.

Ken Robins, with Jar­rard and Davis Law Firm, the county at­tor­ney, ne­go­ti­ated the set­tle­ment. The county would pay $10,000 to the plain­tiffs via their at­tor­neys, and the law­suit would be dis­missed with­out prej­u­dice and with no ad­mis­sion of li­a­bil­ity.

“It seems to me ev­ery suit we have come up, we set­tle on,” said Hen­der­son. “I think in or­der to get some re­spect we have to de­cide to fight.”

He asked how much had been spent on the law­suit to date. Me­gan Martin, a part­ner with Jar­rard and Davis, said the case had cost $76,000 up to the time her law firm had taken the case over. “I can tell you, it’s cost a frac­tion of that since,” Martin noted.

El­lis, in break­ing the tie in fa­vor of set­tle­ment, said, “This is a vic­tory for New­ton County.”

BUD­GET REVISIONS SUB­MIT­TED

Staff sub­mit­ted the pro­posed revisions to the fis­cal year 2017 county bud­get, bring­ing the bud­get down to $54,643,855. Ac­cord­ing to Michelle Kelly, county fi­nance of­fi­cer, the re­duc­tions leave a zero bal­ance be­tween in­come and ex­penses. She also said there was $462,097 in con­tin­gency funds.

The BOC ap­proved the revisions. Copies of the bud­get will be avail­able for re­view at the his­toric court­house, and pub­lic hearings will be held on Mon­day, July 25 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and on Mon­day, Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

El­lis an­nounced that New­ton County had re­ceived the largest Lo­cal Main­te­nance and Im­prove­ment Grant (LMIG) from the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Transportation -- $400,000 -- for re­strip­ing county roads and re­pair­ing or in­stalling some guard rails. The BOC ap­proved a con­tract with Mid State Con­struc­tion and Strip­ing of Perry for $252,646.

In other ac­tions, the BOC:

Ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion au­tho­riz­ing the chair of the Solid Waste Man­age­ment Author­ity to pro­pose recommended changes in re­moval of SWA mem­bers; Ap­proved in­de­pen­dent con­tract ser­vices for South­east­ern Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­ates and View Point Health for the Re­source Court; Ap­proved a con­tract be­tween the New­ton County Se­nior Ser­vices and G. A. Food Ser­vices of Pinel­las County, Inc., sup­ply­ing food for home de­liv­ery; Ap­proved a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween Se­nior Ser­vices and View Point Health for transportation of se­niors to and from the Turner Lake Se­nior Cen­ter; De­clared a sur­plus of prop­erty from var­i­ous depart­ments ready to be sold on GovDeals.com; and Ap­proved a tax an­tic­i­pa­tion note to cover pay­roll and other payables dur­ing the lull be­tween tax col­lec­tion pe­ri­ods. County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr said the amount could be be­tween $1 mil­lion and $3 mil­lion at in­ter­est rates no higher than 1.5 per­cent.

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