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Road funds animate commission meeting

Special meeting to be set to iron out differences

POSTED: April 9, 2018 10:15 a.m.
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The Liberty County Courthouse is in downtown Hinesville.

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Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette had to call for order several times Tuesday as commissioners discussed allocation of money for road improvements.

Commissioner Connie Thrift wanted to proceed with the paving of John Wells Road and said the allocation for that project had already been discussed and approved by the commission. Part of the project was to be paid for with Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant funds the county receives from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Some 2018 LMIG funds had been committed to John Wells Road and about $125,000 is needed from 2019 LMIG funds. LMIG funds are automatically determined by a formula based on the number of road miles in each county or city. LMIG is available as quickly as projects are identified, beginning in July of each year.

Commissioner Gary Gilliard said he had not attended the annual planning session when spending of LMIG money was discussed but, "it sounds like we’re spending money we don’t have." Thrift said, "The commission already voted $127,000 for my district."

Commissioner Justin Frasier said, "But we still haven’t decided how we’re going to break down these funds."

Commissioner Eddie Walden said, "We’ve got no business spending sales tax or LMIG money that we don’t have yet ... and we need to spend some money in the Hinesville area."

After more discussion and a question about the need to approve the John Wells Road project Tuesday, Lovette said, "That’s why it’s on the agenda, because we agreed on it."

The vote was 5-2 vote with Gilliard and Walden voting no.

The commission plans to hold a special meeting to discuss allocation of funds. Remarks by commissioners indicate they favor a seven way split with each of the six district commissioners and the chairman having control of one seventh of the money.

Also Tuesday, the commission approved a budget for Liberty County’s share of the six-county Atlantic Judicial Circuit public defender for the fiscal year starting in July 2018. Personnel costs will be $918,000 and operational expenses are $59,000.

Public Defender Brandon Clark said the budget request had not been increased from last year. Liberty County receives a refund from costs recovered each year.

Public defender caseload figures show that Liberty has 39.9 percent of the circuit’s population and accounts for 40 percent of the misdemeanor cases. Long County has 9.1 percent of the circuit’s population but 24 percent of the cases.

Two proclamations were signed Tuesday. One designated April as Autism Awareness Month, another proclaimed April as National County Government Month.

The commissioners accepted a recommendation to buy a backhoe from Flint Construction and Forestry Equipment Co. for $115,900; low bidder was Border Equipment at $105,357. This is a replacement for an old backhoe and is included in the budget.

A replacement for the generator at the jail will be provided by Cummins Power South; County Administrator Joey Brown said the old generator was out of service.

The bid accepted was $119,500 for the generator and $20,000 for extras and installation.

Parker can be contacted by email at joeparkerjr@hotmail.com.

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