Hart County Board of Commissioners
October 12th, 2004
The Hart County Board of Commissioners met October 12th, 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.
Chairman Reyen welcomed those in attendance.
Rev. Andy Buchanan offered prayer.
4. Pledge of Allegiance
Every stood in observance of the Pledge of Allegiance.
5. Approve Agenda
Chairman Reyen entertained a motion to move New Business item m) Robert Wesley/Ten Commandments up on the schedule. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
6. Approve Minutes of Previous Meeting(s)
· 9/28/04 Budget Public Hearing
· 9/28/04 Peer Review Meeting
· 9/28/04 Regular Meeting
· 10/7/04 Special Meeting
Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to approve the minutes as amended. Commissioner Carter provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
7. Remarks by Invited Guests, Committees, Authorities
8. Reports By Constitutional Officers & Department Heads
County Attorney Walter Gordon reported that the U.S. Department of Justice has responded to the county’s request to move the Hartwell Precinct polling place from the National Guard Armory to the County Recreation Center and noted that the Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the change.
Attorney Gordon also reported that a hearing heard in the Superior Court October 7th, 2004 to validate Industrial Revenue Bonds for TI Automotive and there was no objection. He announced that the bond closing will be held October 21st, 2004.
Attorney Gordon recommended that the Commissioners consider re-appointing Jack Edmunds and Bill Leard to serve on the Joint Development Authority.
9. County Administrator’s Report
County Administrator Jon Caime reported the following:
· $800,000 is budget in FY’05 for county road paving and suggested that the Commissioners schedule a road work session to discuss the matter.
· Results of the FY02 audit report reviewed by the Carl Vinson Institute have some ideas to generate additional revenues.
· Hart County Historical Society placed a marker at the highest point in the county located on Kotal Road.
10. Chairman’s Report
11. Commissioners’ Reports
Commissioner Banister reported that the arcade machines have been deemed illegal and he has requested documentation for the county records.
Commissioner Carter questioned when the 2003 audit report will be available to the county for review. Administrator Caime responded that the six month extension expired September 30th, 2004.
Commissioner Carter suggested writing a letter to the auditor and find out when the county will receive the audit report.
Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to install a culvert at the bus turn around on Tom Rice Road. Chairman Reyen provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
12. Consent Agenda
13. Old Business
a) Courthouse Space Issue
Chairman Reyen entertained a motion to remove the item from the table for discussion. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Commissioner Banister entertained a motion to put the Courthouse Space Issue back out for bid, draft a letter to DCA and the RDC to research grants available for space issues.
Chairman Reyen remarked that storage issues are the biggest problem at the courthouse and they should research if there is an alternative storage needs.
Commissioner Carter remarked that there may be grants available for a space study and that the county should meet with the City of Hartwell officials to discuss the courthouse spa ce issue.
Commissioner Carter provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
b) Landfill Ordinance
County Attorney Gordon presented a brief overview of the Landfill Ordinance draft 3.0 to regulate privately owned landfills.
No action was taken.
14. New Business
a) FY05 Millage Rates Presentation
County Administrator Caime presented the five year history of the net M&O Millage rates set by the county. He remarked that the rate increased in 2001 to 5.93 and has decreased to 4.869 for 2004. He also presented the Millage and Equivalents for property taxes, other general fund revenues, SPLOST II, LOST, grants and other special revenue funds.
Commissioner Dorsey remarked that local municipalities will be taking a larger amount of the next SPLOST funds if it is passed by referendum.
m) Robert Wesley/Ten Commandments
Robert Wesley presented the county with a gift of the Ten Commandments plaque and requested permission to hang the plaque in a prominent place in the county courthouse. He also challenged the Commissioners to take a stand on the posting of the Ten Commandments.
Rev. Mike Griffin, member of the State Board of the Ten Commandments of Georgia, supported Mr. Wesley’s challenge. He remarked that moral values are being attacked daily and that the cause to post the Ten Commandments is the right cause at the right place and the right time.
Rev. Griffin also reported that he has 4,700 signatures on a petition supporting public display of the Ten Commandments.
Attorney Rick Hopson for the Foundation for Moral Law, Inc. reported that U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case in Texas and Kentucky on the Ten Commandments issue. He also stated this is an exciting time in Hart County to take a stand in support of the Ten Commandments.
Staff Attorney Ben Dupree also for the Foundation for Moral Law, Inc. thanked the Commissioners for allowing the Ten Commandments issue to come to light and for their acknowledgement of God. He recommended that the Commissioners focus on God’s higher law over the Supreme Court Judges.
Attorney Dupree explained that the lawsuit in Barrow County involving the display of the Ten Commandments will be heard soon and that they are trying to get a jury trial.
Tom Warren asked who would represent the county if the issue were taken to court. Chairman Reyen and Commissioner Oglesby asked if the Foundation for Moral Law would represent Hart County if a lawsuit is filed.
Attorney Dupree responded that the firm has acted as attorneys for Barrow County and that the Ten Commandments organization in Barrow County has raised the fees to offset the cost to the taxpayers. Commissioner Oglesby asked if there would be no cost to the county for attorney fees. Attorney Dupree responded that the firm would be willing to help Hart County.
Commissioner Carter asked Attorney Dupree if there would be anything wrong with putting the issue on a referendum ballot and let the voters decide the issue. Dupree responded that he is not familiar with the local or state law pertaining to placing the issue on a referendum.
Joel Gunnells pleaded with the Commissioners to delay the issue until the Supreme Court rules. He stated that it would be more appropriate to display the Ten Commandments in the county jail facility.
Mr. Gunnells also voiced his concern that county residents were being coerced to purchase and display Ten Commandments signs in their yards.
Rev. Harry Warren remarked that he appreciated
Mr. Gunnells’ comments and that he did not know of anyone who was coerced
to display the signs in their yards. He remarked that the history of the
Shirley Wesley remarked that everyone will stand before God and give an account for their actions.
Chuck Parker remarked that the
Mr. Wesley asked for permission to be allowed to hang the Ten Commandments plaque in the Courthouse and they could have the opportunity to take them down. He also said the displaying the Ten Commandments is not a political decision. Commissioner Oglesby responded that the issue does have political gain and that he didn’t think that the Commissioners should take a vote on the issue. He also stated that Mr. Wesley could post the plaque in the courthouse without coming before the commissioners.
Chairman Reyen remarked that Mr. Wesley is not asking for a vote and that he is asking for permission to hang the plaque.
Billie Whitmire remarked that the Commissioners are the county’s leaders but are afraid to make a decision on the Ten Commandments issue. Commissioner Oglesby responded that he is not afraid to make a decision.
Frank Whitmire remarked that our nation was formed and based on God’s work and that the Commissioners need to take a stand even if it costs money.
Attorney Dupree reported that Barrow County Commissioners didn’t vote to display the Ten Commandments but voted to fight the lawsuit.
Commissioner Banister remarked that the foundation of our society is under attack and read a quote from Benjamin Franklin acknowledging God of the Bible. Commissioner Banister entertained a motion to nail the Ten Commandments on the wall at the courthouse. Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion and stated that the county may or may not be sued and they would have to “cross that bridge when we get there”.
Attorney Gordon observed that the Commissioners acknowledge God at every meeting with opening with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. He said he has examined the law and that at this time, public posting of the Ten Commandments is considered to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the Commandments could not be posted in public schools. Over the years, many have challenged this ruling, and most have lost. Cobb County spent $100,000 in legal fees and lost their case. Habersham County lost its case and was ordered to pay approximately $75,000 to the opposing lawyers. Barrow County has spent $210,000 in legal fees so far, and has not been to trail yet.
Attorney Gordon reported that the U.S. Supreme
Court’s decision to hear the two cases on public posting may provide clear
guidance on the issue. He also stated that God works in mysterious ways and
he hopes that the court rules that the Ten Commandments can be posted. However,
given the current status of the law in the State of
Attorney Dupree reported that Barrow County has not paid a dime out to defend the issue.
Commissioner Carter asked what would be the benefit of voting on the issue tonight. Bucky Trotter responded that if you acknowledge God you will be blessed.
Mr. Wesley remarked that the ACLU is working hard to remove our religious liberties.
Commissioner Carter responded to Ms. Whitmire's statement that he agreed to represent the people in the county and that he felt "this is an issue of the heart, I don’t want to get in your hearts and I want to stay out of your pocketbooks as much as possible." Commissioner Carter entertained a motion to table the issue.
Chairman Reyen said the issue is a no win situation for a Commissioner, if you vote against it because of the possibility of a lawsuit, you’re considered a heathen; if you vote for it, and you’re putting yourself in for the possibility of spending a lot of county funds. He said as husbands of the county resources we’re responsible for what the funds are spent on.
Commissioner Oglesby provided a second to the motion to table the issue until the Supreme Court makes a decision.
Bill McSwain, Vice chairman of the steering committee for the Ten Commandments of Georgia/Hart County, encouraged the BOC to take a stand to place the plaque in the county courthouse.
Chairman Reyen called for a vote. The vote to table the issue by Commissioner Carter and second by Commissioner Oglesby failed 4-0 (Commissioner Carter abstained).
Chairman Reyen called for a vote to accept Mr. Wesley's gift. The motion carried 5-0.
b) Approval of North Point Subdivision
Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to approve the North Point Subdivision request on Swan Sanders road. Chairman Reyen provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 3-0. (Commissioners Banister and Dorsey were absent).
c) Bid Opening - County Maps
One sealed bid was received for the county maps therefore; the item will be placed out for bid again with the anticipation that other vendors will submit a bid.
d) Discussion-DOT Off System Safety Projects
County Administrator Caime explained that the DOT has funding available for potentially eligible contract items such as raised pavement markers; rumble strips, vegetation removal, guardrails and traffic signals.
Chairman Reyen entertained a motion to proceed with requesting funds that are available from the DOT to reduce vehicle crash and fatality rates on off-system (county) roads. Priorities will be determined at a coming BOC road work session. Commissioner Oglesby provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
e) HC Property Owners Association - Small Acreage Presentation
Item was deferred to the next regular scheduled meeting.
f) DDA Presentation - Pat Fritz
After a brief presentation of the DDA programs, Ms. Fritz requested the county continue to work with the DDA and fund $8,000 for administrative support for FY'05.
Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to fund $8,000 for the DDA's administrative support. Chairman Reyen provided a second to the motion. After discussing the issue, Commissioner Carter entertained a motion to table the issue. Commissioner Oglesby provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
g) Hart Haven House Reconstruction
Deferred to the next meeting.
h) FY05 Purchasing Schedule Approval
Commissioner Oglesby entertained a motion to put the Ambulance remount out for bid. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0. Further action on the purchasing schedule is deferred to the next meeting.
i) Increase Solid Waste Tipping Fees
Deferred to the next meeting.
j) Pending Board Appointments
Chairman Reyen entertained a motion to direct Administrator Caime to notify all incumbents of pending expiration on their term of office, advertise the positions in the local newspaper and receive resumes'. Commissioner Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
15. Public Comment
16. Executive Session
Commissioner Dorsey entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Oglesby provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Daniel W. Reyen, Chairman Lawana Kahn, County Clerk