County commission adopts budget on split vote

Grady County commissioners unanimously set an ad valorem tax millage rate at 11.89 mills Thursday morning to fund a $13,338,411 2013 operating budget, but they were split on approving the spending plan.
Vice Chairman Billy Poitevint and Commissioner Charles Norton voted against the budget, which was approved on a 3-2 vote.
The vice chairman refused to state publicly his reasoning for voting against the budget he helped develop, but Commissioner Norton said two issues prevented him from being able to support the spending plan.
Norton said he was opposed to the purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV for Grady County Jail Administrator Capt. Tim Gainous and he was against a cost of living raise on top of an increase in county employee benefits.
According to Norton, the budget includes approximately 81 cents per hour per employee increase for medical insurance and an additional 13 cents per hour per employee in increased retirement benefits for county workers.
“That’s 94 cents an hour and then you add a three percent pay raise on top of that,” Norton said.
“I just can’t support it,” he added.
Not one citizen attended the public hearings on the millage rate increase or the budget Thursday morning.
In other business last Thursday, the commissioners:
Discussed a recommendation from Grady County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Wayne Hadden to reduce the number of new narrow band compliant portable radios for the county’s volunteer firemen from 162 to 127, but to invest in a heavier duty radio that is more suited for the environment firefighters face. Commissioner Al Ball wanted to make sure that 127 radios would serve the needs of the department. Grady County Administrator Rusty Moye said that Coordinator Hadden said that all chiefs were aware of the change. “Some are grumbling about it, but they are all aware,” Moye said. Commissioner Norton asked who said 127 radios would be enough and Moye indicated the VFD coordinator had said so. “That’s not to say they will not come in here next year and want to buy more radios,” Moye said.
Approved payment of an invoice from Allen’s Electric Service to repair lights at Barber Park that were damaged by a lightning strike. The cost of the repairs, including the rental of an aerial lift, totaled $3,390.
Ratified previous verbal approval to purchase 15 acres of timber from Riedesel Forest Limited. The 30-year-old timber is within an existing wetland area that is being preserved as part of the wetland mitigation plan associated with the federal 404 permit issued authorizing the construction of the 960-acre Tired Creek lake. Consultant Kent Campbell of Eco-South, Inc., recommended purchasing the timber rather than allowing Riedesel to harvest it and the county replant the tract. Based on Campbell’s estimates, the cost of replanting and monitoring would be $18,300 and the cost of purchasing the timber would only be $16,500. “Paying to keep the timber in place saves money in the long run and alleviates the need to change the plan,” Campbell wrote in an email to Administrator Moye.
Approved an increase from $350 to $500 per trip for the transporting of bodies to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab on the recommendation of Coroner Nancy C. Clark. The county has used DDL Transport Services to transport bodies to the crime lab and the coroner recommended the per trip fee increase.

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