October 10, 2010 

Notes from the Board of Commissioners Meeting-
October 7th

     Thursday night was the first monthly BOC meeting.  Not being a surprise to anyone since it happens at most every meeting, items were again added to the agenda and passed 3-2 without much information being presented to the public.  Without any knowledge of what is on the agenda, people can’t make plans to attend.  Open meetings laws state that the public should know what is on the agenda far enough in advance that they can plan to attend.  Adding items at the beginning of the meeting does not give people that opportunity.  So not only has the people’s opportunity to comment on agenda items before discussion and vote been taken away, so has their right to even know what is on the agenda.  There have been several votes by the BOC that nothing can be added to the agenda, but it happens anyway.

     District 3 commissioner wanted the Local Agriculture Protection Guide added to the agenda and it was, and the vote was 3-2 to do so.  The County Manager admitted he did not put this item on the agenda because there is no information on it and he felt like there was not much community support; something required for the grant.  He stated he spoke to the person, Nina Kelly from NE Georgia Regional Commission (NEGRC), who proposed this grant.  She could not tell the County Manager anything about how it will be run and who is going to do it since it is in the planning stages.  They are trying to get counties interested in coming on board and being a guinea pig or pilot county.  As the county manager was trying to advise the BOC to let another county be the first and see if it works out well, then Jasper County can join in, a motion was made and District 1, 2 and 3 commissioners voted for it with the commissioners from district 4 and 5 voting against this.  These two voted no on the grounds of no information available and not wanting to vote on something in the dark not knowing how it would affect our county.  If you want to let the NEGRC know how you feel about this you can call them at 706-369-5650.  If our own commissioners won’t listen to us, maybe NEGRC will.


An interesting item on the agenda was a Special Event Permit ordinance.  This is something which was brought before the BOC without them having asked for such an ordinance.  District 4 commissioner asked how this proposal was initiated and was told that it is something proposed by the Code Enforcement Officer.  This ordinance basically states that if any event is held which will have 20 or more people attending you will have to pay $100.00 for a permit.  This will include any gathering held in your backyard or anywhere else.  The proposal contained other rules such as the person having the event must provide security and cleaning crew.  This means if you have a family get together and you have more than 20 people there you will have to get a permit, have the sheriff’s department or local police on hand and make sure you clean everything up when it is over even if it is in your own yard.  The BOC asked a lot of questions such as what about churches, what about family gatherings at your house, and things like that.  There weren’t answers for many of the questions and it seemed obvious that the BOC was not in favor.  Instead of just saying no, they passed the ordinance back to the P&Z board to handle.   

     The BOC had a good bit of discussion over some road situations.  First there was the payment for Jackson Lake Rd. out of the SPLOST fund.  This was a no-no and the District 1 commissioner said he caught the $140,000 check and had it stopped.  There have been many votes about Jackson Lake Rd and SPLOST and the final vote was the money would have to come out of the general fund since there were 10 promised SPLOST roads to start with.  The capital improvements account and the contingency account were both mentioned.  District 4 commissioner repeated that they had to do what the original motion said or take another vote.  No new vote was taken.

Next there was discussion about paying Larry Kaiser of CIS for his engineering services with the Striping Grant.  At a previous meeting the Public Works director said the job was not done well.  At this meeting, he said the signage work (all those new signs sticking at intersections along with old signs) had been completed that day.  He also said 27 miles of road had been striped and that was all that would be done.  District 4 commissioner said that is not what was said when the grant was presented, but found out the contract said something different than what was presented.  The grant was for $400,000 and the county is still waiting on an $80,000 reimbursement.  The PW director said he thought the county got its money’s worth so the BOC voted to release the check to CIS.

Finally, after approving the bids to do Hodges Farm Rd., Feldspar Rd., and E. Bullard Rd. with SPLOST money 4-1 (District 3 commissioner opposed), there was talk of it being time to think about putting through another SPLOST to pay for road work.  This will be an interesting vote as the current SPLOST money won’t be enough to pay for the 10 promised roads and this SPLOST money is always trying to be changed to cover pet projects by two commissioners.  Are you interested in passing another 1% sales tax for roads?

     One item that provoked a lot of talk was the Chamber of Commerce requesting the BOC to allow them to put the deer head trophy wall on the courthouse steps during the deer festival.  The BOC did not seem too happy over this idea and felt that the courthouse steps were not large enough and that many citizens might be offended with a bunch of deer heads hanging there.  They passed a motion saying a banner could be put across the front of the court house, but did not include the deer head trophy wall.



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