Starting construction on phase 1 of Fleming Park, at the corner of Beasleyville and Freedman Grove roads, was a point of concern for some Liberty County commissioners during a recent meeting.
The project’s first phase will deplete the Liberty County Recreation Department’s Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax funds.
LCRD Director Jimmy Martin said at the April 21 meeting that construction on phase 1 will use what is left of funds from SPLOSTs IV and V, estimated at $350,000, with the exception of contingency funds. Martin hopes that SPLOST VI will pass in November to provide funding for phase 2 of the park.
Commissioners Justin Frasier and Marion Stevens are concerned about other parks in the county that need renovations. Frasier said he supports Fleming Park, but did not realize LCRD would have no more SPLOST funds to renovate other parks.
“So if the next SPLOST doesn’t pass, we won’t have any money for Miller Park?” Frasier asked.
Joseph Miller Park is on Oglethorpe Highway in Midway, across from Bill Carter Road. Martin said he does not know of another way to fund renovations at Miller Park.
“Miller Park is in deplorable conditions,” Frasier said. “That doesn’t’ represent Liberty County. I don’t think we can be ‘Liberty County proud’ with that.”
Commissioner Eddie Walden said the same can be said of Jones Creek Park and others.
Frasier asked if some of the contingency funds for Fleming Park can be used for upgrades at Miller Park and suggested renovating the bathrooms. Martin said that the bathrooms are well maintained.
Fleming Park is in District 4, represented by Commissioner Pat Bowen, who has been trying to get a park in his area for some time. Bowen said phase 1 is minimal.
“This is nothing extravagant,” he said. “This is just a pavilion, playground and walking trail for this area. … We’re not even putting in a baseball field or basketball court right now. This is just the basics. Where are you going to cut out? You’re going to cut out the playground? We’re not trying to complete the whole park right now.”
Bowen added there may be some money left from the project and that nothing has been spent in the Fleming area for several years.
“We were looking into redeveloping Miller Park with the same funds,” Martin said. “Then the opportunity for Fleming Park came up.”
Commissioners approved allowing LCRD to proceed with phase 1 construction at Fleming Park, not to exceed $350,000.
County Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin presented the March financial report. She said the fund balance at the end of March was 3.7 months of operational expenditures, compared to 6.1 months of operational expenditures at the same time last year.
“Significant revenue line items are not coming in,” she said. “We will end up using more of last year’s fund balance to balance this budget at the end of the day.”
The tax commissioner’s office is about two months late in turning in property tax revenue, McGlothlin said. Commissioners asked her to contact Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones. Other revenue-generating areas, such as fines and forfeitures and the prisoner-housing fee, have not brought in as much money as expected. McGlothlin also gave updates on departments operating within or over their budget.
The county received its last title ad valorem tax check for the SPLOST in March, McGlothlin said.
“There probably won’t be anything else deposited unless … on occasion there are appeals that are settled, filings that are settled by the state, then they kind of trickle down — and trickle in a little bit,” she said. “But we are no longer receiving anything.”
County Engineer Trent Long presented the monthly engineering report and updated commissioners on various road projects. Commissioners approved project extensions for Ellis Wood Contracting and Sikes Brothers Construction.
Paul Zechman, the county’s director of permits and inspections, recommended that roads in construction phases 3 and 4 of Villages at Limerick be approved and for the commissioners to release maintenance bonds for both phases. Commissioners approved the roads and bonds.
In other business, Phil Odom of the Liberty County Cultural and Historic Resource Committee updated commissioners on the organization’s activities. This committee has partnered with the Liberty County Historical Society to keep records of historic sites.
Odom said he will meet with leaders from Riceboro, Midway, Walthourville and Gum Branch about creating historic overlay districts. He said Flemington is already doing something similar. He added that partnering with the Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau to add more geocaching areas at historic sites is a good idea.
The Historic Resource Committee is short three members. Odom asked commissioners to recommend people for the open positions. Odom was dressed in a historical costume he wears when giving tours and talks at historic sites in the county.
Commissioners awarded the county’s summer food program contract to Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority for $121,600 for lunches and snacks. David Floyd, the director of Liberty County Family Connection, was appointed as director of the summer food program.
Commissioners also approved a $5,000 funds request from the Fraser Counseling Center for drug abuse treatment and education, or DATE.
Commissioners accepted the construction bid for the new Animal Control facility, from Dabbs Williams Co. at a total cost of $1,320,313. They also approved transferring SPLOST V funds from the Liberty County jail and drainage department to this project to cover funding.
At the beginning of the meeting Robin and Brian Tiner thanked commissioners for allowing them to host a geocaching event in the county. The Tiners gave an overview of the activities and positive feedback from participants.
4-H student Devaury Beverly said the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance. Jordyn James, Liberty County 4-H vice president, talked about the benefits of the local 4-H program.