Spending authority for new administrator is increased to $10,000
Newly appointed Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, received an early vote of confidence by the members of the Grady County Commission Tuesday when they voted unanimously to increase the administrator’s spending authority from $2,500 to $10,000 for budgeted expenditures.
The county administrator sought the increase after surveying the spending limits of county administrators and managers in the surrounding area.
Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince said that the average in the surrounding area is $20,000.
Administrator Johnson noted that Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton’s spending authority is also $20,000.
According to Johnson, a higher spending authority would allow the county to make bulk purchases and save money, particularly on items for the county’s shop and road department.
“I’m not comfortable what was done by the previous administrator,” Johnson said Tuesday morning. According to Johnson, former administrator Carlos Tobar routinely authorized purchases that were in excess of the $2,500 spending cap set by the county commission.
“Whatever the limit is, if something comes up that is over I’m going to be calling y’all, I’m not going to approve it,” Johnson said.
According to Chairman Prince, the county could save $2 to $3 per gallon on oil by purchasing it in bulk.
Originally, Johnson had proposed an increase from $2,500 to $3,500, but based on the majority of requests for purchases from the shop and road department and comparing the spending limits of surrounding communities, he proposed the $10,000 limit.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland ask for clarification that the spending authority of the administrator covered only budgeted expenditures. Johnson said that was correct and anything not budgeted that was needed would be brought before the board for its deliberation and decision.
The administrator also hinted that there are issues with the county budget that the board would be forced to address in the coming weeks.
Also Tuesday, the board discussed the need to replace the server at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office. The county administrator said the server was budgeted in the 2017 budget, but was not included in the 2018 budget. “I’m afraid there are more issues like that not only in the 2018, but also the 2019 budget we will have to discuss shortly,” Johnson said.
Chairman Prince said the board had routinely budgeted for major expenses over the course of multiple budgets so that when the replacement or purchase had to be made money would have been set aside to cover the expense. Based on the discussion Tuesday, it appears that may not have been done as the board intended.
After discussing the matter, Commissioner Keith Moye offered a motion to increase the administrator’s spending limit to $10,000 and Commissioner June Knight seconded his motion. The board passed it unanimously 4-0, Vice Chairman T.D. David was absent Tuesday due to health issues.
In related news Tuesday, Administrator Johnson requested the board ratify its verbal approval to purchase a new server for the sheriff’s office from Rumble’s of Thomasville at a cost of $6,400. According to county officials, the server has been patched for several years in an effort to prolong its life.
The purchase of a new server was not budgeted and the funds will come out of the county’s cash reserves to make the purchase.
Commissioner Knight was the lone commissioner to oppose the purchase when verbal approval was sought last week and on Tuesday she voted against ratifying the purchase agreement.
Knight complained that the money the county is paying for consultant Will Butler on the Tired Creek Lake project could be used to cover the cost of the server.
“I respect your argument Miss June, but I completely disagree,” the county administrator said. Johnson said the server is an “absolute need” for the operation of the sheriff’s office.
Administrator Johnson also noted that Lake Authority Chairman LaDon Toole would be joining Butler in meeting with a prospective developer on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Tallahassee.
Knight said the county’s agreement with Butler needed to come to a “flying halt.”
Johnson said that if the meetings with the developers that Butler has arranged or has scheduled do not have favorable results, then the commission could discuss taking a new approach.
“Whatever you do you must and should involve your lake authority in making any decision about what to do moving forward if the decision is made to make a change,” Johnson said.
The county administrator also noted that even if the board and authority decide to end their relationship with Butler, the county would need someone to spearhead the development of the lake project. “You can’t do without. You’ve got to have somebody,” he added.
“I understand that,” Commissioner Knight responded and then added, “But they have to be able to produce.”
Chairman Prince concurred with Johnson about involving the authority. “We need to work with the lake authority as much as possible on this,” the chairman said.