The troublesome health insurance issue that caused fisticuffs at a previous Long County Commission meeting was on the agenda again Tuesday.
Noting that making a motion does not necessarily show approval, Commissioner Mike Riddle moved that the county pay health insurance for commissioners. Riddle said, “This issue needs to be resolved.”
The issue arose when first-term Commissioner Robert Parker signed up for health insurance and the county paid the premiums. Other commissioners have dental and vision insurance coverage through the county, but pay the premiums themselves.
Parker cast the only vote in favor of Riddle’s motion. Riddle also suggested that elected officials who have received benefits in error should repay the county. Commission Chairman David Richardson recommended that the repayment issue not be pursued and Riddle agreed.
The thorny question of septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems also resurfaced Tuesday. A Long County ordinance requires subdivisions with more than 50 lots to have a sanitary sewage system, but the commissioners have frequently granted variances to developers who want to install septic tanks instead of providing sanitary sewage treatment.
Daniel Dasher and George Guyett asked for rezoning and a variance for septic tanks for a development near Palmer Road. The rezoning would allow setbacks of only 10 feet. The commissioners will discuss the subdivision issues at an upcoming work session.
Questions arose about the county’s plan to establish a proposed water system when Matthew Barrow of P.C. Simonton Engineering presented a recommended designation of the Heritage Bank for a loan if needed by the proposed water system startup.
Plans call for a $200,000 loan if the proposed county water system needs it. Barrow said the Heritage Bank was the only bank to respond to the loan solicitation. Heritage offered a 3.25 percent interest rate on a 240-month term. At this point Commissioner Clifton DeLoach said, “Do we really want a water system?”
DeLoach said only subdivisions would benefit, and “It will cost the county but we won’t make any money off it.”
The motion to designate the Heritage Bank passed with a 3-2 vote, DeLoach and Commissioner Mike Phillips voting no.
Another challenge to the water system appeared after Parker added developer Jason Smiley to the agenda. The developers who had been expected to be the first users of the county water system wanted permission to use a private water system instead of the one the county is starting. The developers said they were willing to use the county water system in a future subdivision, but they needed to act now on the current project because of time constraints.
Richardson said, “We are going to be right back in this predicament again with another contractor.” A motion by Parker to allow an exception in the case for the current development passed.
The commissioners heard from Allen Burns, executive director of the Coastal Regional Council, who told them work needed to begin on a new comprehensive plan for the county. The comprehensive land use plan is a state requirement and is due on June 30, 2019. Burns said about a year is needed to do the plan including public hearings and meetings of a committee and stakeholders. The commissioners agreed to have the CRC update the comprehensive plan at a cost to exceed $25,000.
The commissioners decided to postpone appointments to vacancies on the recreation board.
National Health Center Week will be observed August 12-18; the commission issued a proclamation honoring Diversity Health Center which serves Long and Liberty counties.
Parker can be contacted by email at email@example.com.