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Sunday, May 1, 2016

New jail, expenditures, top Quorum Court agenda

Friday, November 25, 2011

When county officials hold meetings regarding construction of a new jail, Fulton County Quorum Court members are going to try to attend, in case a decision needs to be made that would require a vote by Justices of the Peace.

That decision was made as the Quorum Court held its monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.

County Judge Charles Willett indicated he was trying to arrange a meeting as quickly as possible with the USDA, which will provide a low interest loan and Lee and Associates Architects, who will finish final jail drawings and seek bids on the project.

While J-Ps are anxious to see contracts awarded and work underway, County Attorney Dwayne Plumlee urged patience.

"There is at least a 30 day waiting period after the election, in case there's a challenge in any way," Plumlee explained. "Bond counsel is moving forward getting the bond documents ready, and the architect is moving on with getting plans and specs (finished). We'll have to rely on him to tell us when it's ready to be bid, but everything's working. We've cleared a major hurdle by getting it approved by the voters. The rest of it will take some time, but I don't really expect us to move any dirt until spring."

After discussions with the USDA, Willett told J-Ps that the four percent low interest loan approved and locked in some time ago, has been changed to reflect a lower interest rate of 3.75 percent.

The lower rate will reduce the monthly payment from $7,191 to $6,911, a savings of $180 a month.

The Quorum Court did not continue its budget cutting discussions at the meeting. The budget under consideration for next year needs to be reduced by about $100,000. So far, JPs have identified about $57,000 in cuts.

At the suggestion of Judge Willett, the court agreed to wait until the December meeting to finalize and pass a budget. At the December meeting, the Final Settlement -- tax revenue the state owes Fulton County -- should be known, allowing the court to better identify exactly how much more spending will need to be cut from the new budget.

At the Nov. 14 meeting, Willett did say it appeared the county will be able to switch health insurance providers, avoiding an 18-percent increase in premiums the current provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, intends to impose next year. Keeping rates near this year's level will save the county about $23,000 next year.

While final approval of the new budget has been delayed, County Clerk Vickie Bishop asked Quorum Court for verbal approval to buy a new computer system for her office.

Funds for the new system, which will cost about $15,000, will come from proceeds from a recording fee the clerk's office collects, and not from the county's general fund.

Bishop said the system is needed to replace the older system her office currently uses. The new system will do a better job of meeting a requirement that a reliable system be in place to back-up records in her office, in case they are lost by a system failure or disaster. Under the new system, county records will be also be stored at three other sites.

"I want to be up and going on the new system in January because, if it is not in (operation), I'm going to have to pay $3,000 or $4,000 (annual service contract) to keep the system I've got operating until we get the new one in," Bishop explained.

J-Ps approved Bishop's request to move forward with the purchase and installation of the new computer system.

In other business, JPs approved a resolution authorizing the Fulton County Water Authority to buy 30 "radio read" water meters. The Water Authority obtained a $3,700 grant for the meters, which can be read from a distance, instead of physically reading each meter each billing period.

JPs also approved giving the Fulton County Hospital Board an appropriation of $153,640, money from an energy improvement grant the county obtained for the hospital more than a year ago.

The appropriation will be used to pay contractors who have worked on the energy efficiency improvements at the hospital.

The next regular meeting of Quorum Court has been moved to Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Meetings are held in the Circuit Courtroom of the Courthouse and citizens are invited to attend.

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