2017-04-20 / Front Page

County approves new city water rate; Bolton recognized for years of service

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor


Retiring EMT-I Gerome Bolton was thanked for his 27 years of service to Lincoln County with an hon­orary proclamation at the latest meeting of the Board of Commissioners. (From l-r) Chairman Walker Norman, Bolton, his wife Lilvender Bolton, and OES Director Casey Broom, along with the rest of the commission were present to congratulate him on his retirement. Retiring EMT-I Gerome Bolton was thanked for his 27 years of service to Lincoln County with an hon­orary proclamation at the latest meeting of the Board of Commissioners. (From l-r) Chairman Walker Norman, Bolton, his wife Lilvender Bolton, and OES Director Casey Broom, along with the rest of the commission were present to congratulate him on his retirement. An increase in the city’s water processing fee for county water use was approved by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners last week. The fee, which is just over a four percent increase from last year’s rate of $1.89 per thou­sand, will now be set at $1.97 per thousand gallons.

The increase was met with Lin­colnton City Council’s approval last month.

“Our water agreement requires that an audit be done at the end of every year and the rate be adjusted according to the audit,” Public Works Director Roby Seymour said. “There was also a refund – a little over $22,000 because we overpaid the city in 2016 – so the contract requires that both parties agree to the rate.”

In addition to the rate increase, Director Seymour also updated the commission on general water and sewer rate increases.

“Over the last two years this board has approved a rate increase to water and sewer to be done every July 1, which is our budget year,” Seymour said. “We’re in the second year of our water rate increase, and the first year of our sewer rate increase.”

According to the director, those set rates will stay in affect and will not have to be adjusted in accor­dance with the city’s rates.

Regarding the sewer, “our current rate is $27.38 for the first 1,500 gal­lons, and $6.52 per thousand after that, which gives you an average sewer bill – with an average use of 2,900 gallons – of $37.16.

In July, this rate will increase to $29.02 for the first 1,500 gal­lons, and to $6.91 per additional thousand, making the average bill $39.39, which is a little over a $2 increase.

Water rates are currently set at $25.85 for the first 1,500 gallons and $6.33 per thousand after that, and the director explained that they too will increase in July to $27.27 for the first 1,500 gallons and to $6.68 for each additional thousand.

“Those with both water and sewer are looking at a $4 increase,” Sey­mour said.

In other business, the board voted to hire Watson & Knox as an employee benefits brokerage and consulting service agent for nego­tiations with future health insurance providers, an initiative that was presented by Commissioner Larry Collins.

“Last year when it came time to renew [our health insurance] we literally waited until the midnight hour,” Collins said. “To that I ex­pressed my great displeasure when waited until the very last minute, because this is something that is very serious and is a benefit to our employees. If they’re like me they’ll want to know what insurance is going to cost them, and what the benefits are.”

The board put out a RFP earlier this year, requesting that an agent represent county employees, deal with insurance companies, acquire quotes from the entities, and ensure that the employees are receiving the “best deal possible.”

Watson & Knox was considered the best fit by the commission out of seven other responding entities.

The board also voted to imple­ment a rate increase for Lincoln County campgrounds. Camping with water and electrical hookups will increase from $20 to $25, while leaving primitive camping the same at $18, however a discount of $5 will still be in place for seniors and those who are handicapped.

“We looked at our campgrounds to sustain them and keep them go­ing, and one of the things we looked at was revenues, and our rate struc­ture,” Seymour said.

The increase is comparable to sur­rounding county campgrounds, as well as Corps of Engineer pricing.

Along with the motion, the board likewise voted to keep taking res­ervations in-house, as opposed to allowing an outside entity or online source handle the reservations.

“We felt that fees were to exor­bitant for us to overcome and we decided to keep those reservations in-house, and out of my office,” Seymour said. “We’re trying to reduce our expenses in the parks, in­stead of hiring or sourcing it out.”

In the future, however, the board will consider going through Reser­vationsUSA, but will look to switch at the beginning of next year’s camping season.

Last.in.the.motion,.the.board.ap­proved . a repair of $3,500, which certain blockages to the sewer­age at Clay Hill Campground.

Additionally, the board approved the purchase of a new freezer for the Sheriff’s Office from B&J Ap­pliances for $5,734.54.

In other business, Finance Direc­tor Traci Bussey updated the board on the recent decrease in sales tax collections.

“Last month sales taxes were down by 25 percent from the previ­ous year, and now they’re down 13 percent from February’s distribution last year. I spoke with the Georgia Department of Revenue regarding the decrease, and their response was that throughout the state – for the first couple of months – the sales taxes have been down,” she said.

Bussey spoke with a representa­tive of the department, who took a special look at Lincoln County, and reported that revenues fluctuate frequently, which could potentially account for the decrease. “Or, it could be that people aren’t always submitting reports, or sales could simply be down,” Bussey said. “The amount of information that we can get from the state is very difficult.”

Recreation Department Direc­tor LeTrellis Glaze reported that opening day for Little League was Saturday, April 15, and included that soccer registration will run from April 17 through May 13, as well as reported that the department is currently searching for lifeguards for the summer.

As a highlight to the meeting, the board signed into effect a proclama­tion honoring Emergency Medical Technician Gerome Bolton for his 27 years of service to Lincoln County, and congratulated him on his retirement from the service.

“This was a total surprise, and I still enjoy serving each and every person that I meet. It is a pleasure knowing each and everyone of y’all,” Bolton said. “Never in my life would I have thought that I would receive one of these. This is an honor.”

“I’m going to tell you a story of friendship, and mutual appreciation, and support, and accountability,” Office of Emergency Services Di­rector Casey Broom explained. “I came here in 1997 and there was a core group of folks at OES at that time, many of them founding members of the ‘rescue squad,’ and Gerome was one of them. I don’t think folks realize quite the depth that he’s served this community through the years. He’s been quite the pillar, and to me personally.

“Gerome worked with us on the weekends part-time, but he also volunteered his off-hours with res­cue. He’s a rescue specialist, he’s a certified EMT Intermediate, he’s an extraction technician, he has a certificate from the University of Georgia, and all of these additional certificates and trainings were done on his own time and with his own dollar. That means a lot to me,” Broom continued. “Now, 27 years is a big number, and I wasn’t here for the whole thing, but I think he’s the last original member – since EMS was instituted first voluntarily, and then openly paid – and I think he is the longest serving employee for the Lincoln County Office of Emergency Services.”

Chairman Walker Norman like­wise thanked Bolton for his service, stating, “We’d rather you continue and stay with us, but we appreciate you – 27 years is a long time to be committed in the service that you’ve done through OES and looking out for the citizens of Lincoln County is worthy and we’re glad as a board to be able to present this to you on behalf of our citizens.”

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