Knight questions Moye and Wind
On the heels of questions being raised about the purchase of hay by Grady County from a farm associated with Chairman Ray Prince, Grady County Commissioner June Knight questioned the county doing business with members of the Lake Authority and a volunteer fireman who happens to be a county commissioner.
“These are questions I’m being asked that I can’t answer,” Commissioner Knight said.
She asked if the county could not purchase hay from a farm that is owned by Prince’s son how could the county purchase supplies for Tired Creek Lake from Grady County Lake Authority member Randolph H. Wind, who is associated with Messenger Publishing Co., a local commercial printer and publisher of this newspaper.
Commissioner Knight also questioned payments the county makes to Commissioner Keith Moye who is a volunteer fireman who routinely mans the county’s rescue truck along with other volunteers overnight and on weekends for a $25 per diem.
Wind asked the board who he could consult with to address Knight’s concerns since the lake authority does not currently have legal representation. “I’m appointed, not an elected official. If we’ve done anything wrong, I need to know it,” Wind said.
The lake authority member noted that at the authority’s last meeting, at which he was not in attendance, the authority discussed requesting the county commission’s approval to appoint County Commission Attorney Jennifer Herzog as the legal counsel for the lake authority, but that was not among the recommendations put before the board Tuesday night.
“You don’t have anyone you can ask right now,” Ms. Herzog responded.
Chairman Prince contended the same rules that apply for elected officials apply for appointed officials.
The county purchased a seal for the Lake Authority from Messenger Publishing Co. in 2014 for $19.99 and most recently purchased lake permits for Grady County residents at a cost of $943 and the daily park passes with envelopes for $524.
Wind requested someone make a decision regarding future purchases since Lake Authority Executive Director Mike Binion has requested an additional 2,000 daily park passes with envelopes.
Wind has served on the lake authority since it was organized in 2013 and has volunteered to serve as the secretary of the authority since that time taking minutes of authority meetings.
Commissioner Moye reminded board members that the issue of him serving as a volunteer fireman and serving on the board had been questioned before and the issue had been addressed.
According to Moye, state attorney general opinions and research by both the current and former county commission attorneys had indicated there is no legal or ethical issue with him serving on the board and serving as a volunteer firefighter.
County Commission Attorney Herzog concurred and said her only suggestion was that Moye abstain from votes regarding the VFD, which Vice Chairman T.D. David noted Moye has always done since being elected to the board.
Moye said that VFD Chief Richard Phillips is paid to man the rescue unit from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays and volunteers rotate manning the truck from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. Saturdays to 8 a.m. Sundays and 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. on Mondays. The volunteers receive a $25 per diem for the service, which Moye said was $1.04 per hour.
Herzog said that no one was trying to defraud the county and she encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to bring the matters to her and she could research them and offer an opinion. “It’s my job to make sure you are all complying with the law,” she said.
Moye has served as a volunteer firefighter since 2007 and was sworn in as a county commissioner effective Jan. 1, 2017.
The issue of hay being purchased by the county from C&R Farms was raised by former commissioner Charles Renaud at the June 5 commission meeting.
Chairman Prince said Tuesday night that Renaud’s comments had “hit him in the face” and he repeated his assertions that he knew nothing about the hay being purchased from his son, Cole, who he says is the owner of C&R Farms.
Prince also went on to say the hay purchases were on a bid and he also shared with the board some of the things his son donates to the county including hay to the Future Farmers of America and the Grady County 4-H, and “multiple other things.”
Commissioner Knight commented Tuesday night that Chairman Prince had been “blindsided” by Renaud at the June 5 meeting.
In other business Tuesday night, the board:
Heard complaints regarding county dumpster sites from Steve Rudd and Ernie White.
Approved the budget request for Decatur-Grady E911, which includes a $76,936.84 increase in funding from Grady County. The E911 service is on a July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 fiscal year so Grady County is responsible for an additional $38,468.42 in 2018 that was not budgeted for in the county’s 2018 operating budget. Commissioners will have to dip into the county’s cash reserves to make up the difference this year. The increase, in large part, is due to construction costs of a new communications towers as well as an approximately 10 percent pay hike for 911 operators. The board’s approval of the budget request prompted Grady County Chief Magistrate Pat Pollock to question the pay hikes when other county workers are likely to receive only a three percent cost of living raise in 2019.
Approved the purchase of steel pipe from Gulf Atlantic at a cost of $27,217.80. Bids were solicited from Cherokee and Contech, but neither responded, according to county officials.
Authorized the purchase of a surplus Georgia Bureau of Investigation truck at a cost of $7,000. According to county officials, the truck has less than 45,000 miles on it and is worth twice the $7,000 asking price. A second truck is being purchased by the City of Whigham at a cost of $6,500. County VFD Chief Richard Phillips is planning to convert the surplus truck to rescue unit two and there is money in the VFD’s 2018 budget to finance the purchase of the truck.
Approved payment of $142,996 to renew the county’s property and liability insurance through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. The county had budgeted $148,000 in its 2018 budget for property and liability insurance.
Reappointed Carolyn Hopkins to the board of the Grady County Department of Family and Children Services for a term beginning in 2018 through 2023.
Approved payment of $9,699.40 to Kenneth B. Simmons Associates LLC of Columbia, S.C. for services rendered in the collection action the county has against contractors involved in the Tired Creek Lake mitigation plan. Attorney Rob Howell, who is representing the county in the collection action, presented the invoice for payment at the commission’s June 5 meeting but it was tabled for review by the county attorney. On Tuesday night, the board ratified its verbal approval to pay the invoice on the recommendation of Attorney Herzog. Chairman Prince said if the county is successful in the lawsuit, the money for the expert witnesses will be recouped from the settlement.
Voted to ratify verbal approval to cease serving as the fiscal agent for Grady County Family Connections effective Oct. 1, 2018. County staff has indicated the task was more time consuming than originally contemplated. There were some who raised issues with the county having to front $26,000 and being reimbursed as part of the agreement, but Commissioner LaFaye Copeland noted, for the record, that Family Connections Director Nola Daughtry had explained that the county would have to front the money when she originally solicited the county to agree to serve as the fiscal agent. Chairman Prince said the county supported the Family Connections program, but said with the absence of an administrator the work was too much for the finance personnel.
Met for approximately 40 minutes behind closed doors with attorneys Rob Howell and Laura Benz to discuss pending litigation.