Gordon County’s Board of Commissioners approved next year’s budget – which will go into effect on July 1 – and have extended their reduced fees for animal adoptions. In addition, the board and other county employees discussed raising residential pipe installation rates.
During the commissioner meeting on Tuesday night, the board approved the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, approving of a recent amendment that increased 2018 SPLOST funds.
At the end of May, the proposed budget had $57,284,203 estimated to cover county expenditures, transfers and projects. Yet the budget that was approved this week listed $57,484,203, adding $200,000 to allocated funds from 2018 SPLOST revenue to be given to the cities for their projects.
Prior to this change, the county was planning to give $3,292,401 to the cities but now will be allocating $3,494,401 to Calhoun, Fairmount, Ranger, Resaca and Plainville for their projects.
The total budget is about $1.34 million more than last year’s revised budget, reflecting a 2.4% increase.
The general fund expenditures were approved at the amount of $37,046,075, which is a 3.37% raise from last year’s fund, and was balanced from a transfer from the solid waste management fund ($100,000), jail maintenance fund ($120,000) and general fund reserves ($5.6 million).
The fire fund budget will be increased by 2.29%, and the solid waste management fund will receive a budget of $1.5 million, which is a 68.44% increase from last year. The 2012 SPLOST fund is budgeted for $8.5 million, which is a decrease from last year, and the 2018 SPLOST fund has increased 48%.
Projects taken out of the 2012 SPLOST budget will include courthouse renovations and construction, the health department building, the senior center expansion and construction at Brookshire Park. As far as 2018 SPLOST, currently considered projects are new patrol cars for the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office, renovation of the administration building and construction of a morgue for the coroner’s office.
County Administrator Jim Ledbetter said at Tuesday’s meeting the reduced animal adoption fees have been successful for the Gordon County Animal Control facility and 14 animals have been adopted at the lower fee of $25. Ledbetter also said that the county saved $8,738.62 as a result of unspent money on the new Animal Control building, so the board approved to put those excess funds toward providing more reduced adoption fees.
Ledbetter said that extra money would provide about 100 reduced fee adoptions and would allow the rate to stay at $25 for a longer period of time, which is a benefit to locals looking to adopt but also helps out the facility on space and resource preservation.
“We need to spend that left over money this year or it gets lost from (the Animal Control) budget,” Ledbetter said. “We want to prepay on some adoption contracts’ spay/neuter fees with that extra money to help animals get adopted and save the county on feeding expenses.”
Ledbetter also announced an issue with the Public Works department for the board to consider acting on in the future. Steve Parris, the director of the Public Works department, said currently the county offers installation of pipes along a county resident’s driveway, yet the price they charge is significantly less than that of local private contractors.
“We provide installation at $150, where private contractors charge $850-$1,500,” Ledbetter said. “By doing so we’re competing against contractors that get paid for that.”
Ledbetter and Parris both said that in surveying surrounding counties, they didn’t find another county government that offered driveway pipe installation at the low price that Gordon does.
“We’re getting pipe on a government contract and reselling it to our residents,” Ledbetter continued, “and we’re undercutting private industry. I see a lot of issues with that.”
Parris said that while his employees are working on two to three installations a week, these jobs are taking them away from more pressing projects and are significantly time-consuming. According to Parris, even if the county raised their price to $850 — the minimum a private contractor would charge — the county would barely be breaking even.
Though the board made no official decision about the pipe installation fees and questions brought up, Ledbetter encouraged commissioners to think about this issue and consider potential solutions, as it will be brought up at another time. The administrator said there were no legal complications with the situation, as far as he could tell, so it wasn’t a time-sensitive issue.
Also during the meeting, approved contracts included a renewal for SeamlessDoc – the county’s online digital documentation program – and a renewal of the ambulance service agreement with AdventHealth. Ledbetter told the board that the county offered to provide $100,000 to help AdventHealth Gordon buy a new ambulance, which was included in the county’s approved budget.