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LCDA approves 2014 budget
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The Liberty County Development Authority approved its $7.5 million fiscal year 2014 budget during its meeting Monday and also discussed the organization’s financial future.
The budget is for July 1, -June 30, 2014.
One item listed under expenses drew questions from board members. Board member and state Rep. Al Williams asked Carmen Cole, LCDA director of administration and finance, if the $299,547 proposed cost to fill in four isolated wetlands within Tradeport East took into consideration lower costs for moving dirt from a site close to the project site. He and board members Robert Stokes and Donald Lovette, Liberty County Board of Commissioners chairman, then asked if P.C. Simonton & Associates engineer Marcus Sack could explain the proposed costs for the project.
Cole stopped her presentation and tried to call Sack. Moments later, Sack returned the call and responded to the request by joining the meeting in progress.
“Yes, there are some savings there,” said Sack, who added that the cost estimates include raising the land elevation by 3 feet on the more than 8 acres of wetlands. “Normally, the cost to haul the dirt is about $7.50 per yard of dirt, but this is more like $5.50 per yard. The total costs include excavating the dirt, moving it and spreading it.”
Before the board brought the proposed budget to a vote, Williams asked how the future looked financially for the LCDA. Cole repeated what financial advisor Jim Hargrove told her, that he believed the authority was on the right path.
Williams then pressed Cole for her own view of the LCDA’s financial future.
“As long as we continue to monitor and keep our expenditures low, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Cole said.
LCDA CEO Ron Tolley agreed. He reminded board members that three years ago, a former board member told them the LCDA was going downhill. He said the board member even said they’d have to be “miracle workers” in order to get the authority back on a sound financial footing.
“Well, I think we did work some miracles,” Tolley said. “We have gotten ourselves back on a sound financial basis.”
Prior to hearing the proposed fiscal-budget report, the board heard a report by Kay Proctor, financial consultant with certified public accountants Thigpen, Lanier, Westerfield & Deal. Her report listed governmental funds and proprietary funds for the 11 months ending May 31.
Revenues noted included taxes, charges for services, investment earnings, rental income, timber sales and other revenue. Expenditures included general government and industrial development, debt service (principal and interest with fiscal charges) and intergovernmental (MidCoast Regional Airport) expenses.
The LCDA board also heard and approved a resolution for water-service areas by Nils Gustavson of Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission. Gustavson pointed out two areas on the service-area map where the LCDA would expand its services, to include a large area near Sunbury. Chairman Alan Brown pointed out the expanded area bordered with Sunbury, and Williams suggested they offer water services to Sunbury. Brown said that Sunbury might not want their water services, but it might be worth further discussion.
Also Monday, the board took on a request for proposals for landscape-management services. The evaluation committee for the proposals included Stokes, Williams, Cole and DeLisa Espada. Eight proposals were accepted, but four were non-responsive to specific questions, so they were eliminated. The contract was awarded to C.A. Sittle Inc. for $203,950.
Williams asked the board if, in the future, they could ensure the residency requirement for local bidders be more specific, as it allows someone with an office in Liberty County for one year the right to bid on projects, “even though they may be from Timbuktu.” He also asked that they clearly emphasize the requirement against fraud.
“When you sign off on a sheet, you’re saying all information is true,” Williams said.

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