Liberty County Board of Commissioners approved a budget amendment for fiscal-year 2016 and a variety of action items at their meeting last Thursday.
Kim McGlothlin, the county’s chief financial officer, made adjustments and revised the budget to $28.2 million, after commissioners addressed the budget shortfall of more than $1 million. County department heads and constitutional officers previously attended a special meeting to discuss the budget and potential cuts. Commissioners cut employee promotions, raises and a transport deputy position from the budget. They approved using $861,518 of reserve funds to cover expenses that are deemed necessary.
Commissioners approved a lease purchase of a caterpillar excavator for $186,628. McGlothlin said that the equipment was already accounted for in the budget and needed a formal vote that will allow County Chairman Donald Lovette to enter the lease.
Trent Long, county engineer, gave updates on different road and construction projects, including handicap access at James Brown Park; a funding request to the state Department of Transportation to resurface part of Lewis Fraser Road and the delay of construction on Azalea Street to move telephone lines.
Long told commissioners he has been putting special purpose local options sales tax signs at project sites to show they are funded by SPLOST. Commissioner Justin Frasier said the majority of SPLOST funds go to roads, parks and sidewalks.
Commissioners adopted an ordinance, required by the state, governing the use of purchase cards and credit cards. County Attorney Kelly Davis said McGlothlin has already established guidelines for county employees. The ordinance required by the state applies only to elected officials.
Commissioners also approved a lease agreement with the Liberty County Prison Re-entry Coalition for a building at 205 E. Court St. in Hinesville. The Coalition provides services for parolees and recently released felons reintegrating into society. The lease is for 48 months, starting Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31, 2019. The rent will be repairing the building, which is estimated to cost $34,170.
Commissioner Gary Gilliard asked who will make the repairs. Coalition member Daisy Jones said licensed, qualified people will be hired, and volunteer work appreciated. She said some people have already offered to paint and put up drywall.
Pastor Richard Hayes of New Day Community Church said, “I whole heartedly support what the re-entry program is doing, and wholly support the collaboration they are attempting to do in trying to obtain this building, obtain a home for the services that they are going to provide.”
Hayes shared a story about his older brother, who has been out of jail for five years in Arkansas, and is still looking to find a job.
“We have an opportunity in Georgia, but we have the state support and now looking for yours (addressing the commissioners) where we can make this place, where people have the opportunity, who’ve made mistakes, can make a home for themselves; live a life—a productive life—and take part of the American dream in pursuing life and liberty and happiness,” Hayes said.
Commissioners agreed to sell a 1975 Mack pumper truck for $200 to Joseph Martin. The truck is no longer functional and can’t be fixed. Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel said old trucks are usually sold for scrap metal for $200-$700, and that value of scrap is down.
A resolution was approved to move forward with the closing of property for the Fleming recreation park at the corner of Beaselyville and
Freedman Grove roads. A conceptual design for the park was previously presented to the commissioners that included a fish pond, multi-purpose field, walking trail and pavilion.
County Administrator Joey Brown also gave a report on the progress of different projects like the construction of the new Live Oak Libraries on Memorial Drive, site preparation for the detective office next to the Liberty County Sheriff Office and upgrading equipment at the 911 center.