BLUE RIDGE, GA – In what is being heralded as the first of its kind in the county, Fannin County Board of Commissioners held an all day budget workshop on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, in preparation for the 2018 budget.
The workshop was scheduled from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and was open to the public. Department Heads from each department came in to discuss their area’s proposed budget.
Commissioners scrutinized each line item while the department’s representatives were present. They questioned what each department planned to do with the money that they were asking for.
Most departments stayed right in line with the previous year’s budget having small increases or decreases to account for different needs in staffing or cost of goods to operate. All offices saw a slight raise in their salary budget as an overall 2% raise was given to government employees.
A few departments requested significant increases, but most were explained away with the need for additional personnel. Building Maintenance Supervisor Ken Petty was one of those who faced heavy scrutiny as his budget request was broken down and analysed.
County Chairman Stan Helton questioned Petty, “You have maintenance repair of the old courthouse building. Are you anticipating something there? 2017 there’s nothing in there, but you have requested it for 2018.”
Post Two Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee further questioned Petty, “We got a request here for $2,000-$3,000 for maintenance and repair on vehicle. You got a new vehicle, what do you anticipate tearing up on it?”
To both of these questions Petty replied, “We just put it in there in case there is something.”
Petty’s budget request was approximately $748,000, showing over a 17% increase from last year’s request of $620,000.
Helton concluded with, “Go through and look at these items…if we can’t justify with something we have a known expenditure coming, then we are going to have to look at reducing that.”
On the opposite end of the budget spectrum, some departments made dramatic cuts, with the largest cut going to the Roads Department by Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff.
Ratcliff proposed approximately $300,000 in cuts to his department. These cuts came mainly from fuel purchases, tire allowance, and payroll. This $300,000 decrease comes on top of an 11% decrease in the department’s budget last year.
Helton remarked, “You were able to cut the tire budget way down. That’s on track to be about 1/4 of what you’ve spent out there before.”
Ratcliff confirmed that he was able to decrease the tire budget from $50,000 to roughly $8,000.
Another significant decrease came in salaries, as the Roads Department has reduced the number of employees from 54 to 39. Helton pointed out that we still have “50% more employees than surrounding counties.”
Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson stated that looking at the Road Department’s budget shows that what the county is doing is working. He said, “I’m proud of what we are doing with your budget. I’m glad to hear these amounts are coming down the way they have.”
This workshop gave insight into the county’s 2018 budget,but the Commissioners will meet and continue to amend the budget proposals. The final budget will be discussed and approved at a regularly scheduled meeting later this year.
BLUE RIDGE, GA – Fannin County Animal Control has finally received approval for much needed upgrades to their facility located on Industrial Park Blvd.
After several weeks of being tabled for lack of proper information required in the bids, Maintenance Department Head Ken Petty was finally able to produce suitable bids for the Commissioners to consider and ultimately approve.
A bid for $18,932 was approved and would add fourteen outdoor runs to the facility, as well as guillotine doors to allow the dogs access these runs from their indoor kennels.
County Chairman Stan Helton stated, “Not only will this improve living conditions for the dogs, but will also allow animal control staff to safely access kennels for cleaning and feeding.”
Petty was also questioned by County Commissioner Earl Johnson about an earlier bid approval to fix the air conditioning unit at the jail.
Johnson wanted to know why he had “seconded a motion for $5,340 on the air conditioning unit at the jail and was just asked to sign a check for $15,416?”
Johnson reiterated the importance of proper scope of work and bids. “We specify as a county what work we want done, and what we require.” He went further in saying that it is not up to the contractor to decide what work they want to do.
Petty who had not seen the bill in question, said that he would follow up with the contractor and find out why the amount had almost tripled.
The annual summary of the 2016 County Audit was the main focus of the Fannin County Board of Commissioners meeting held on August 8, 2017.
It became apparent during the review that the public were not the only ones who have received limited information in the past. As discussion came to a management report within the audit, Post Commissioner Earl Johnson was surprised that he had not been made aware of this document and was even further surprised that he had never received a copy of this annual document since 2012.
Commission Chairman Stan Helton made it clear that “anything that is available to me, is available to both of them.” In keeping with his promise of transparency within the county, Helton went on to say, “We are putting up everything and not leaving anything out”, stating that the entire audit is available on the County website for the public to view.
Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee wanted to clear up misinformation that had been put out in the form of editorials. Over the past two weeks, concerns have been expressed about the county being short of emergency vehicles.
While the county was down three ambulances, EMA Director Robert Graham clarified that only one front line vehicle was down, while the other two were back up vehicles. He expressed that this is a rarity and that there is always a backup plan. When questioned about the public’s safety, Graham responded, “At no time were any of our citizens in any danger of not having emergency services.”
Fannin County Maintenance Department Head, Ken Petty, brought three bids to the board regarding renovations at Animal Control. These renovations include the installation of guillotine doors that would allow the dogs to go outside directly from their kennels. The addition of these doors would also allow FCAC staff to safely enter the dog runs for daily cleaning and feeding. The lowest bid was $18,932, coming in approximately $500 under the singular bid placed last meeting. The board, however, chose to still table the vote for another two weeks to give Petty time to gather a start and completion date from the bidders.
Zach Ratcliff, Fannin County Public Works Director, was added to the agenda as his department was in need of new equipment. The county’s two mowers have seen over 6000 hours and are in “limp mode” as Ratcliff stated. These being the most used equipment in the department that provide safety on our roadways, Ratcliff presented the board with a bid for $118,225 to replace one of the existing mowers.
Ratcliff went through an existing government contract and was able to save the county $24,864 by doing so. Commissioners unanimously agreed that this purchase was necessary and would be able to use funds from SPLOST to cover this necessity.
BLUE RIDGE, GA – Fannin County Board of Commissioners held their final meeting for this month on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Among the items on the agenda, County Commissioners addressed the issue of the County Roads Moratorium. There was public commentary that addressed both sides of the issue the county faces when deciding to adopt or remove roadways from its care.
Citizens were there to ask Fannin County to consider adopting Phase 1 of the My Mountain Community into its county road system for maintenance and upkeep, citing that this phase of the community has been in existence for almost 20 years. On the opposite side of the discussion, citizens expressed concern on current county roads that they feel have been neglected. Post Commissioner Earl Johnson urged the Board to use caution when adopting new roads into the system, wanting first for the county to obtain proper inspections and right of ways before making any decision. Fannin County Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee and Commission Chairman Stan Helton agreed with this assessment. While voting to continue the county road moratorium, there was also a unanimous decision to work on current roads in the system before accepting new roads.
Ken Petty, Fannin County Maintenance Department Head, addressed the Board seeking approval for three issues needing financial payment from the county. He presented cases for $5,340.00 to replace a compressor on the commercial Trane air conditioning unit at the jail, $19,160.00 for improvements to the Animal Control Facility located on Fannin Industrial Park, and roof repair at the county maintenance building.
Petty was only able to present one bid on the broken compressor at the jail. When questioned by Post Commissioner Earl Johnson on failure to receive further bids, Petty stated that no one he contacted in Fannin County was willing to work on the unit. Johnson further questioned Petty as to why he was not providing the county or the bidder with a proper scope of work, and both agreed in the future that this documentation will be provided. Ultimately the board agreed to address and fix the issue of the air conditioning since it is essential to the jail’s day to day operations, but opted to table the other two issues until further documentation and bids could be obtained.
Commissioners expanded the Board of Assessors through resolution and praised the three current appointees for bringing the county up to compliance with the State of Georgia. The expansion will bring the current board of three members up to a state allotted five member board. The board unanimously voted to appoint former Superintendent Mark Henson to a four year term on the Board of Assessors, and Troy Junnier to serve a three year term. Chairman Helton felt that the addition of these two individuals based on their experience and knowledge of the county would keep operations within the Board running smoothly for years to come.
Marie Woody with Land Development informed the board that all requirements were met to move forward with condemnation of property located at 188 Riverside Lane. The cost of removing the structure would be approximately $7,500.00 and approval was granted to advance this project. This property will be the fifth this year to be condemned and removed. Discussion was also held about the Scrap Tire Management Grant that was obtained from the State of Georgia. Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee wants to focus on where the man power will come from to complete this project and does not want to tax an already short handed Road Department of the county.
Finance Director Robin Gazaway presented the public with year to date financial information showing that the county is currently $1,675,006 under budget for the fiscal year 2017. Out of the county’s $27,131,207 yearly budget expenditures, actual amounts show that $12,975,846 has been spent.
Most county departments reported staying within or under their current budget amount as of July 18th. Administration was the only department reporting an overage with their current rate of spending at 72.9%. For departments to fall under budget their current rate should be below 54%. When questioned as to why this number was so high, Gazaway explained that new county policy requires all insurance claims be filed under a single department, and that they were working on an amendment that would create a new line item to reflect changes in this policy.