Bulloch County Commission
Commissioners listen to County Manager Tom Couch's report Credit: Grice Connect

Commissioner Timmy Rushing, Vice Chair, presided over the Bulloch County Commission regular bi-monthly meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20th. Commision Chair Roy Thompson was not in attendance. It was a rare absence for Chairman Thompson.

Even though there were no zoning issues presented to the commissioners during the meeting, Commissioner Rushing wanted citizens to know that they are working hard on the zoning update process.

“I would like to send our appreciation to the community for working with us as we get through the zoning update process,” said Commissioner Rushing. “I especially want to commend the staff for their work on this. We don’t have all the answers but we are working to get them as quickly as possible.”

Bulloch County Consent Agenda

APPROVED: Minutes Approval: Tuesday September 6th, 2022 05:00 PM

APPROVED: Executive Session Minutes September 6, 2022

APPROVED: 2463: Request to purchase 31 APX 900 Motorola radios and chargers in the amount of $104,426.37 from Motorola Solutions.

Public Works requests consent to purchase 31 radios, 4 multi-unit chargers and 7 single unit chargers from Motorola Solutions to facilitate communication between employees, BCCI, and supervisors.

APPROVED: Appointment of Mildred Wilson and Linda Christy as members of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Land Bank Authority to fulfill the unexpired terms of Robert Tanner and James Deal, commencing on September 20, 2022, and ending on December 31, 2024.

The Interlocal Cooperation Agreement that established the Statesboro-Bulloch County Land Bank Authority (“Land Bank Authority”) in 2002 provides that the Authority is governed by a Board composed of four members with two members to be appointed by the Mayor of the City of Statesboro and two members to be appointed by the Bulloch County Commission.  The Board members must be residents of Bulloch County and are appointed to serve for four-year terms without compensation.  The Land Bank Authority has been inactive for a number of years; however, the City of Statesboro has requested that the Land Bank Authority be reactivated and that new members be appointed to its Board.  Robert Tanner and James Deal were appointed as members in September 2021 and both have submitted their resignation from the Statesboro-Bulloch County Land Bank Authority. Mildred Wilson and Linda Christy have agreed to serve as the County’s appointees for the remainder of Mr. Tanner and Mr. Deal’s unexpired terms effective September 20, 2022, and ending December 31, 2024.

APPROVED: 2475: Motion to approve purchase of TCT Fairway Trencher with Conveyor from Specialized Turf Equipment Company (STEC) in the amount of $41,199.00. The Parks Division was approved to purchase a laser guided trencher to be used to install drainage on athletic fields. With labor shortages, the purchase of a TCT Fairway Trencher would enable the Parks Division to dig trenches and remove soil for pipe using only two employees. The trencher also comes with a conveyor belt that can be removed if not needed; comes with a chain that can be adjusted to trench 4″ – 8″ wide trenches; and is equipped with a laser receiver.

APPROVED: 2476: Motion to approve the Georgia Safe Sidewalks Proposals for sidewalk trip hazard removal.

Every two years, the Parks Division budgets for Georgia Safe Sidewalks to inspect our sidewalks and give a report of any trip hazards at our parks. We have used them twice before and have been pleased with their work and results. Georgia Safe Sidewalks is a sole source vendor. They are the only company in Georgia authorized and licensed to use the patented equipment and method for removing sidewalk trip hazards under six patent numbers.

This year, Georgia Safe Sidewalks walked Mill Creek Park, Splash in the Boro, Fair Road Park, and Brooklet Park. They completed their inspection and submitted proposals to have the trip hazards removed. They also identified a few areas that should be completely redone.

The proposals submitted were for each park separately totaling $10,870. This is less than the $15,000 that we need for financial approval, but we will need to have a short form construction contract since the labor is more than $2,500.

Tony Morgan, Parks Division manager, is requesting an approval to begin the process of preparing a contract to get this service started. It would be November 2022 before they can begin, but we would like to get on their list.

APPROVED: 2477: Motion to grant an alcoholic beverage license for retail beer and wines sales to Naynaben Chaudhari, Shivala LLC, located at 20864 US Highway 301 North, Statesboro, Georgia 30461.

APPROVED: 2478: Motion to approve a contract between Pictometry International Corporation and Bulloch County Board of Commissioners d/b/a Bulloch County GIS in the amount of $282,048.00.

The attached contract is for the purchase of digital aerial imagery that is to be flown this winter identified as Project Option 1. The second option in the contract identified as Project Option 2 is for the purchase of aerial imagery 3 years from the date of the first project. Project Option 2 gives the County the right to purchase the flight at the time with no cost increase from Project Option 1.

APPROVED: Motion to approve an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Statesboro.

Intergovernmental Agreement is with the City of Statesboro for the City to reimburse the County for the aerial images within the boundaries of the city that the County purchases from Pictometry International Corporation. This Intergovernmental Agreement applies to project one and two as stated in the contract with Pictometry International Corporation. This Intergovernmental Agreement gives the City of Statesboro the right to view and use the aerial images in its GIS system as needed.

APPROVED: 2479: Motion to approve the purchase of a new ambulance from Custom Truck and Body Works in the amount $255,913.00.

Bulloch County EMS was budgeted $246,809.00 for the purchase of a new ambulance.  An RFP was sent to ten (10) vendors, an ad was placed on the County website, and the RFP was posted on GA Procurement Registry on August 24, 2022.  One (1) response was received and recorded in Conference Room 102 located at 115 North Main Street, Statesboro, Ga. 30458 on September 12, 2022, at 3:00 pm.  Custom Truck and Body Works was the sole bidder.  Their bid meets all requirements and was recorded at $255,913.00

New Business

Approved: Memorandum of understanding between Bulloch County, the YMCA, and We Move. We Move is a tutoring service which primarily serves children who are in need of tutoring services. The program is designed to leverage and extend the education they get during the school day. The cost is approximately $13,000.

County Managers report

Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch updated the commissioners on a variety of items that the staff are working through.

Commission meeting to move to Honey Bowen building temporarily

Lavender and Associates contractors have begun a building renovation of the North Main Annex. These renovations will require the staff to move some of the meetings temporarily from the annex that are held in the commissioners meeting room. Staff members have met with Eddie Cannon and his staff at the Honey Bowen Building and feel that they can accommodate the public meetings temporarily. Couch believes that by the second meeting of November, they will move the Commission and other public meetings temporarily to the Honey Bowen Building.

Finance team recognized as one of the best

Couch applauded the county’s finance team for once again receiving the Distinguished Budget Award. He feels that they will also receive the Certificate of Excellence for annual financial reporting. They are waiting for notification of the second award.

Local governments can apply for consideration for the award with the Government Finance Office Association (GFOA), which is the primary resource for local governments for financial accountability assistance and guidance. Whitney Richland, the former Bulloch County CFO, started this process with the GFOA, and Kristie King, Bulloch’s current CFO, has continued with the GFOA.

The GFOA have a team of peer reviewers who review the budget and the annual financial report (annual audit). If Bulloch receives these awards again this year, it will be the fourth year they have received them. Governments who receive these two awards will remain in 10% of all Georgia Counties to receive both of these awards.

The county’s budget document is over 300 pages of financial information, and the Financial Report is over 100 pages. Couch is pleased that even with staff changes, the finance staff continues to strive for financial excellence. These awards demonstrate a higher standard for compiling these reports and making sure they are accessible to the general public.

County Budget favorable at this time

The county’s budget showed a positive expense variance of 1.8% in general fund and a $1 million deficit versus a 2.5 million budgeted deficit. He cautioned commissioners that it is still early in the budget year and anticipates a hit caused by higher gas prices and inflationary impacts, adding that a little hit in gasoline budgets could raise costs. It is early in the year but shows progress early in the budget.

RFP for investment banking now open

Davenport and Company, the municipal financial advisors that both the city and county use, have sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to establish an investment banking program for the county. Local financial institutions will have an opportunity to compete on managing the county’s idle cash.

Employees in Carl Vincent Institute program

Currently there are 25 county employees enrolled in a leadership and management training program coordinated by the Carl Vincent Institute This is the first time the county has participated in this program. The training is held in Bulloch County.

County Employee retirement plan update

Couch gave the commissioners an update on the progress of the retirement defined benefit plan. He said they are still in the 60-day due diligence period. They have met with the employee study committee on how the 1.5% multiplier plan will work. As they explained, the parameters did not get any negative feedback from the employee study group.

A video with a PowerPoint presentation was made available to all employees explaining the options available with this new retirement plan. The staff is now collecting surveys from employees eligible.

After this information is received and processed, the employee study group will come back to make one final recommendation to the commission, and the commissioners will vote up or down the new retirement plan. They hope to bring this back to the commissioners during an October meeting.

Grice Connect covered details of the proposed retirement plan here.

Comprehensive Plan Update

Couch discussed the public meeting held on Monday night, in which about 30 citizens attended and expressed their concerns and ideas for the updated zoning and comprehensive plan. We will have more on this in an upcoming story.

He also announced that James Pope, Planning and Zoning director has developed a web page on the county website to keep citizens updated on future meetings and progress of the zoning moratorium committee. You can access that by clicking here.

Watch the Bulloch County Commission meeting below:

View the full agenda with links to attachments below:

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...