Hart County Board of Commissioners

May 11th, 2004

5:30 p.m.

The Hart County Board of Commissioners met May 11th, 2004 at 5:30 p.m. in the Hart County Administrative & Emergency Services Center.

Chairman Daniel Reyen presided with Commissioners R C Oglesby, Randy Banister, Ricky Carter and Joey Dorsey in attendance.

  1. Call to Order

Chairman Reyen called the meeting to order.

  1. Welcome

Chairman Reyen welcomed those in attendance.

  1. Prayer

Rev. Harry Warren opened with prayer.

  1. Pledge of Allegiance

Everyone stood in observance of the Pledge of Allegiance.

  1. Approve Agenda

Commissioner Banister entertained a motion to approve the meeting agenda as presented. Commissioner Carter provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

  1. Approve Minutes of Previous Meeting(s)

Commissioner Banister entertained a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting held April 27th, 2004 as amended. Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

  1. Remarks by Invited Guests, Committees, Authorities

Mr. Cordele distributed copies of the final assessment report to the Board and explained some of the guiding principals on how the program works.

Mr. Cordele commended everyone that participated in the Main Street and Street Scape programs. He reported that the DDA scored excellent on the program assessment from the Department of Community Affairs.

He thanked the Board for the investing into the DDA projects and encouraged them to keep up the good work.

Chairman Reyen asked how the program is working in respect to economic re-structuring. Mr. Cordele explained that new businesses should be encouraged to use the downtown area first then radiate out into the outlaying areas of the city.

Chairman Reyen thanked Mr. Cordele for his report.

  1. Reports by Constitutional Officers & Department Heads

County Attorney Walter Gordon reported that effective January 1st, 2005 the Public Defender's system will be partially funded through the State of Georgia. He said the funding will cover payroll expenses for the Chief Public Defender, two assistant PD, clerical support and an investigator. The counties in the Northern Circuit will have to furnish office space, travel and telephone expenses.

He reported that the Northern Judicial Circuit Public Defender's system was created in 1982 and has become a model for the overhaul of the State Indigent Defense System.

He reported that the preliminary budget for the PD system will be ready for the board to review at their next meeting. He also suggested that the budget remain at the same for the upcoming fiscal year.

  1. County Administrator's Report

IA Jon Caime updated the board on the status of the new road maps and advised that a budget amendment will be needed to fund the map. Commissioner Dorsey suggested that all roads in the county be included on the map and a clarification for county roads and non-county roads. Commissioner Carter suggested including the district lines on the map.

IA Caime reported that a meeting has been scheduled May 27th, 2004 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the Tax Assessors' response to the Peer Review recommendations. He also reported that the DOT STIP meeting is scheduled June 3rd, 2004 at 1:00 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Administrative facility.

  1. Chairman's Report

Chairman Reyen reported that there have been several attempts to look at an animal control ordinance and he feels that something needs to be done. He reported that wild dogs are attacking livestock and that livestock owners have killed sixty-five wild dogs over the past year.

  1. Commissioners' Reports

Commissioner Carter commented about the policy set forth for appointing board/authority members. Commissioner Dorsey responded that he played phone tag with Mr. Fogerty. Commissioner Oglesby remarked that he wasn't contacted by Mr. Fogerty.

IA Caime remarked that in the future he will make a point to let individuals know to contact each commissioner to express their interest in being appointed to board/authority members.

Commissioner Dorsey remarked that he has gotten several calls about dogs attacking individuals and livestock. He agreed with Chairman Reyen that something has to be done in order to protect the citizens of the county. He also remarked that it will take time to determine the cost for an animal control officer.

  1. Consent Agenda

None

  1. Old Business

None

  1. New Business

a)       WWII Veterans Appreciation Proclamation

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to adopt the WWII Veterans Appreciation Proclamation. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

b)      Ten Commandments-GA use of Courthouse & Grounds

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to allow the use of the courthouse grounds for the meeting site. The motion did not receive a second.

Chairman Reyen remarked that the group is requesting the use of the courthouse location to hold television interviews etc. with their invited guests and there's not a specific date scheduled for the event.

Rev. Mike Griffin responded that they will need to hold a press conference after the rally. Commissioner Oglesby asked if they could use a tent to hold a press conference.

Rev. Griffin remarked that he has discussed the issue with the City of Hartwell to close off Forest Avenue to set up a platform on the date of the event. He said that they would have to acquire the City's approval to close off the street and would have to acquire a permit to hold a rally. He said there could be 2,000 to 5,000 individuals at the rally based on interest shown on signed petitions.

Commissioner Carter asked the county attorney to explain the legalities that the county would be involved in.

Commissioner Dorsey remarked that the board would need specific dates and that he does not have a problem with the group using the courthouse grounds.

Rev. Griffin responded that the date for the rally would be between June and August on Sunday afternoon.

Commissioner Oglesby remarked that in the past groups have been denied use of the courthouse for certain events.

Commissioner Dorsey asked the county attorney for his opinion on the matter.

Commissioner Banister remarked that groups have used the courthouse regularly and don't come to the board for approval so why this group would be denied use of the location.

County Attorney Gordon remarked that the matter is a fundamental issue and that the county government can not take an active role according to the US Constitution and the State of Georgia Constitution. He read the following two paragraphs from the State of Georgia Constitution:

        Each person has the natural and inalienable right to worship God, each according to the dictates of that person's own conscience; and no human authority should, in any case, control or interfere with such right of conscience.

        No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.

Commissioner Carter asked Attorney Gordon to explain funding needs. Attorney Gordon responded that use of electricity, janitorial costs and a bailiff to open and close the courthouse would be involved. The Clerk of Court is the custodian of the courtroom and the judge has to approve the use of the courtroom.

Chairman Reyen remarked that if a bailiff volunteered his time and the group would be responsible for the funding costs for electrical usage during the gathering. Attorney Gordon responded that while that may be the solution for expending county funds but the real issue is for a religious gathering.

Chairman Reyen asked if the Property Owners Assoc. requested use of the courthouse for conducting a meeting that they would be expending county funds. Attorney Gordon responded that their event was not for religious purposes.

Rev. Griffin said the Supreme Court has ruled on the use of public facilities for religious purposes and that it is perfectly legal if it's been used by any other organization. He said you can not exclude one group if you are letting other groups use the facility. He said the public, which includes taxpayers are invited to the rally.

Commissioner Banister remarked that the Supreme Court has ruled in on the use of public facilities and that Thomas Jefferson held church in the White House. Since the Supreme Court has ruled it would be discriminating to allow one group to use the courthouse and deny another group.

Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to approve the request contingent on the City of Hartwell's approval and come back to the board with a specific date. Chairman Reyen provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

c)       Discussion and Possible Action on Rotating Prayer at BOC meetings

Chairman Reyen remarked that he felt it would be a good idea to invite a member of the clergy to open the meetings with prayer.

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to approve inviting a clergy member to open the meetings with prayer. Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

d)      Discussion on Expanding Subdivision Exemptions for Deeding to Family Members

IA Caime reported that there have been requests for a variance to the subdivision requirements for individuals that want to deed land to their grandchildren.

Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to approve expanding subdivision exemptions as the first reading. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

        Gandee Variance Request

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to approve the variance request for the division of 12 acres of Reed Creek Highway (Gandee Plat). Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

e)       Bid Award - Solid Waste Office Trailer

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to award the bid to Williams Scotsman Inc in the amount of $17,400. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

f)        Bid Award - Trash Bags

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to award the bid to Phoenix at $19,273.25. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. Commissioner Carter thanked Solid Waste Superintendent Tony Moorhead for attending the meeting. The motion carried 5-0.

g)       Bid Award - Methane Vent Wells

IA Caime recommended awarding the bid to Lee & Sims at $110,000.

After discussing the issue, Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to table the issue. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

h)       Employee Leave Policy Change

IA Caime explained the change to the sick leave policy that would allow employees to take any one hour increments of earned sick leave and sick leave will be earned during the year in an equal amount per month so that an individual will be granted a total of five days by the end of the fiscal year.

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to change the sick leave policy. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

  1. Public Comment

Herbert Emmel remarked that he approached Chief Appraiser Crossley 35 months ago about the value of his property. Chairman Reyen asked Mr. Emmel before he went any further if he case is in court. Mr. Emmel responded that the case he is referring to is not in court.

He said the Board of Tax Assessors' heard his case and adjusted the value of his property. However, he asked for a form to complete to request a refund and was not given the form in a timely manner. He said it is a disgrace how he has been treated by public servants in the Tax Assessors' office. He said there is a pattern for a lack of respect and the office is in need of an overhaul. He requested that the Board ask Ms. Crossley to appear before them and explain her actions with delaying Mr. Emmel's request for a refund.

Chairman Reyen entertained a motion to invite the Board of Tax Assessors to explain the accusations of why it's taken thirty five months to resolve this issue, and explain the accusations of a lack of action on behalf of the Chief Appraiser. Commissioner Carter provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

  1. Executive Session

None

  1. Adjournment

Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

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