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Commissioners preparing to resume budget talks
Co. Com. meeting 007-1
District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens listens to a report by county engineer Trent Long during Tuesday night's board of commissioners' meeting.

As part of his administrative report to Liberty County Board of Commissioners during Tuesday night’s meeting, County Administrator Joey Brown advised commissioners they’d have to talk about the county’s budget at the next meeting if the referendum for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax did not pass.

The referendum failed to pass by 90 votes, so on Wednesday, Brown responded to a question about the county’s plans to rework its budget without SPLOST funds.

“(We) are working currently to assess the total financial impact that the loss of SPLOST will cause on the general fund,” Brown said. “(I) will not speculate at this point.”

The commissioners will meet again on Thursday Nov. 20.

The first action item considered was a variance request by Liberty County resident George Burton. He asked permission to build a 16-foot x 24-foot detached garage within the required 25-foot side yard setback on his .8-acre property on Pelican Cove Road.

“He’s asking for a variance of about eight feet,” Liberty Consolidated Planning Board planner Joey Patenaude said. “This is the Seabrook Island subdivision, which is off Limerick Road.”

Patenaude explained that since Burton’s home was set well back from the road, and since another restriction prevented him from building a storage structure in his front yard, he had to build the garage in his backyard. He said the LCPC recommended approval.

After Patenaude explained the proposed garage would match the design of Burton’s home, District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens, Sr. asked what the owner intended to use the garage for, if it was for personal storage or commercial use. When Burton told the board he intended to store his lawn mower and yard equipment in the new building, Stevens made a motion to approve the variance. It was quickly seconded and approved.

County Engineer Trent Long presented the board with two items to consider. He first presented an estimate for costs associated with paving with curb & gutter and drainage to a section of Lake No-No Drive. That estimate totaled $375,866. He told the board if they decided to move forward with the project, he would get a more precise estimate.

A second item presented by Long was an estimate for repair of several areas along Edgewater Drive. He advised the board’s approval of the work would be a change order for a roadway resurfacing contract with Ellis Wood Contracting. The additional work would bring the cost of that contract to $123,197, he said.

District 6 Commissioner Eddie Walden asked if the Liberty County Board of Education could assist in the cost for those particular repairs. Brown agreed.

“Most of the traffic going in and out of there is bus traffic,” Brown said. “There has been some discussion around the state about supporting a change in the E-SPLOST law that would allow boards of education more flexibility in the use of those funds. We can only ask.”

Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges gave board members and update on the status of its ISO inspections and volunteer fire departments. He said the volunteer departments are doing very well, though he admitted response to calls made during weekdays are slow because most of the volunteer firemen are at work on their fulltime jobs.

District 2 Commissioner asked just how bad those response times are in rural areas.

“To answer your question, the ambulance often gets there before the fire trucks,” Hodges said. “But we’re going door-to-door in rural areas to recruit more volunteers, especially those who work shifts and can be home during the day to receive calls.”

Directing his information about ISO inspection to District 3 Commissioner Connie Thrift, Hodges said all the inspections were completed but before their package was sent to the ISO registration company, their inspector was hospitalized. He told Thrift the packet has been received, and they should have a response in 90 days.

As an action item, Hodges asked the board to approve a bid by AMEC Environment and Infrastructure to rewrite and update the county’s 5-year Hazard Mitigation Plan. The request was approved.


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