Board instructs Tobar to back off push to charge court rent

Grady County commissioners last Tuesday instructed the county administrator to back off a plan that would require Juvenile Court to pay rent for office space they occupy at the former Grady County Sheriff’s Office, now home to the Grady County Recreation Department.
County Administrator Carlos Tobar told commissioners last week he had been discussing with Juvenile Court officials his desire to collect rent for the office space.
“I contacted State Representative Darlene Taylor’s office and told her it was not fair the state was not paying the county rent,” Tobar said.
Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Charles Norton said the county had agreed to not charging rent in order for parents to be able to meet with Juvenile Court officials here rather than drive out-of-town.
County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley said if the court was required to pay rent it could result in the closing of the local office. Cauley said it was likely only being operated locally as a service to the community.
“Why are we discussing this now if we weren’t charging them rent in the beginning?” Commission Chairman LaFaye Copeland asked.
Tobar said that in his discussions with court officials they had committed to paying $217 per month for utilities.
“I would hate to see them close just because of some rent. If they are willing to pay the utilities I have no problem with that,” Chairman Copeland said.
Commissioner Ray Prince agreed provided there was no immediate need for the office space by the county.
Tobar said he had been discussing with Grady Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Ellis about relocating the EMA central command from the Grady County Sheriff’s Office to the Recreation Department office building.
Tobar admitted he had not done a space needs assessment, but he said that Ellis is house in a “closet” at the sheriff’s office now.
Vice Chairman Norton reminded Tobar that the reason EMA central command is housed at the jail is because it has back up power generators in the event of power outages. There is no back up power source at the former sheriff’s office complex.
“He (Ellis) is where he needs to stay,” Commissioner Elwyn Childs said.
Vice Chairman Norton asked Tobar for an update on negotiations regarding the rental of office space at the Grady County Agri Center by the Farm Service Agency.
“My last contact with them was a couple of months ago. I will follow up with him,” Tobar said.

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