Friday, March 31, 2023

Oconee County Commissioners Agree On Revised Funding For Sheriff’s Office Vehicles And For New Fire Truck

***Kiosks For Tax Commissioner Also Approved***

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office got eight new law enforcement vehicles, properly equipped, a year ahead of schedule.

Fire Station Number 1 will get its ordered Air Truck at an additional cost of $20,259, bringing the total cost to $269,810.

Supply chain problems forced the county to find a new supplier of the chassis for the truck, which is now being outfitted for the station on the north of Watkinsville.

Oconee County Tax Commissioner Jennifer Riddle will get funding to launch two self-service kiosks, one most likely at her new office in the county’s new Administrative Building, now under construction and set to open this summer.

The second kiosk could be at a convenient 24-hour-location, such as a grocery store.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, in its brief agenda-setting meeting on Tuesday evening, tentatively authorized all of these expenditures by putting them on the consent agenda for its meeting on Tuesday.

The Commissioners also agreed to a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) on cost-sharing for the planned roundabout at Rays Church Road/Malcom Bridge Road and Hog Mountain Road.

Board Chair John Daniell also announced that Wayne Patrick is replacing retiring Chief Appraiser Allen Skinner, effective today (March 31). Patrick has more than 20 years experience in property assessor departments, including most recently serving as Chief Appraiser in Hart County.

Police Vehicles

Oconee County Finance Director Melissa Braswell told the Board that Sheriff James Hale had pre-ordered eight Ford Interceptor SUVs for the Fiscal Year beginning in July, assuming they would not be available until that time because of supply chain problems.

Screen Shot Braswell Before Commission 3/28/2023

“To our surprise,” she said, “the vehicles were available much earlier than July 1st, so rather than risk the chance that they may not be available in FY24, the request is to go ahead and purchase the vehicles in FY23.”

The total budgeted cost of the vehicles, with equipment, is $415,000, with $360,000 coming for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds and $55,000 from the county’s General Fund.

The actual cost is $39,714 for each vehicle and $10,500 for the ancillary costs, so the total request of the Sheriff’s Office comes in at $401,712, Braswell said.

Braswell requested, and the Board tentatively approved, a change order in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget to make it possible to purchase the eight vehicles.

Fire Truck

The county has experienced a delay in delivery of the Air Truck ordered for Fire Station Number 1 in January of 2022 with a purchase price of $249,515.

The county could not find the desired chassis due to supply chain problems and purchased one from Atkins Ford for $63,810.

Southeast Apparatus of Corbin, Ky., is outfitting the Air-Light Truck for $206,445, for a total cost of $269,810, or $20,295 over the original estimate.

Presbyterian Village donated $100,000 toward the truck, and the remainder is being covered by SPLOST revenues.

Braswell requested a change order in the current Fiscal Year 2023 Budget to increase the SPLOST funding to cover the gap between projected and actual cost.

As with the change order request for the sheriff’s vehicles, the Board put the request on its consent agenda for its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Unless a commissioner objects, the items on the consent agenda will be approved without discussion at that meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Tax Commissioner

The commissioners also put on their consent agenda an agreement with Jennifer Riddle, who as Tax Commissioner is an elected Constitutional Officer.

The agreement formalizes such things as reporting deadlines, hours of operation, and procedures for transferring funds.

As part of the agreement, the county agreed to add a new full-time employee to the Tax Commissioner Office and to fund up to two kiosk payment systems, including associated user fees.

County Administrator Justin Kirouac said after the meeting that the kiosk will be “a self-service area where citizens can pay various bills. We are hoping it will be able to handle other Departments (such as water billing).”

The kiosk will need to be the one under contract by the Georgia Department of Revenue, he said.

The Tax Commission Office will move to the new county Administrative Building under construction at North Main Street and the U.S. 441 Bypass and ready for occupancy this summer.

“Locations of the kiosk aren't determined at this point,” Kirouac wrote in an email. “One would likely be at the new building. Typically another would be at a convenient 24 hour location (such as a grocery store).”

The agreement with Riddle is on the consent agenda for Tuesday.

GDOT Contract

Oconee County Public Works Director Jody Woodall told the commissioners that when GDOT programmed the Rays Church Road/Malcom Bridge Road roundabout intersection with Hog Mountain Road (State Route 53), the county agreed to purchase right of way for the project.

The county will be responsible for all administrative costs and real property costs for the acquisition, Woodall said.

Woodall was bringing forward the GDOT contract, which the Board put on the consent agenda for next week. No cost estimate is part of the contract.

Kirouac said after the meeting that “We don't know what that cost will be at this time.”

Other Action

In other action on Tuesday, the Board also put on its consent agenda a funding contract between the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission and the county specifying that the county will receive $47,171 in American Rescue Plan funds for its Senior Center.

Merry Howard, Senior Center Director, told the commissioners the money will be used for home delivered meals and support services. The county is committing to contribute $3,045 from the Senior Center budget as part of the agreement.

At the request of C.J. Worden, county EMA Director, the commissioners put on the consent agenda approval of a memorandum of understanding between the county and SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Inc.)/Anchor Point.

Worden said SANE/Anchor Point “provides victim forensic medical examinations, evidence collection, forensic interviews, advocacy, and court testimony related to sexual and physical violence against children and adults.”

Worden said these services are valuable to and used by the county’s Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue, and Animal Services units.


The video below is on the county’s YouTube channel.

The meeting begins at 0:51 in the video.

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