2018-07-12 / Front Page

Jones, Jones, and Davis are selected to temporarily fill directors position

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners held a work ses­sion last week, where no vote was taken, to discuss a number of perti­nent items, some of which will be taken to a vote at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday (tonight), July 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.

“We are in desperate need of a Finance Director. June financial re­ports are typically given at the July meeting. However, because of the untimely death of Lincoln County Finance Director Traci Bussey, there has been a delay. We are at the fiscal year end as well, and this is a critical time,” said Lincoln County Commission Chairman Walker Nor­man. Norman went on to explain that he had hoped that a replacement could be found quickly, but has come to realize Bussey will be very hard to replace. “There is a good bit of difference between someone with governmental accounting experience versus someone with personal and corporate accounting experience, said Norman. He went on to say he had been advised not to rush into hiring someone to regret the choice later.

Norman reported that he had con­tacted the county’s accounting firm to ask for temporary help and was advised there would be a problem having the year-end report prepared and then reviewed by the same firm. Norman then contacted the firm of Jones, Jones, and Davis, with offices in both Augusta and Louisville, Georgia, who also does the account­ing for the Lincoln County Health Department and numerous other governmental agencies.

Jason Williford of that firm was then introduced to the commission­ers as being the person selected to tide Lincoln County over. Norman further explained that the firm of Jones, Jones, and Davis has exten­sive experience with governmental agencies and is comfortable with the accounting practices of a county government. Williford will work part-time in a temporary position to do the critical parts of the financial department that cannot be done by the rest of the staff.

Norman then updated the board about the lawsuit with the City of Lincolnton. As reported before, the lawyers for the two sides met with Richmond County Superior Court Senior Judge Carlisle Over­street some weeks ago over the SDS agreement along with water and sewerage rights. Overstreet recommended the two sides to go to mediation, but would possibly intervene as the county has a dead­line of August 3 to apply for a grant. The grant, if awarded, would be for $750,000 toward building a new Senior Center on Rowland-York Road. A mediator has been selected for a July 19 meeting. A new map detailing the county’s suggestion of the division of the areas to be served by either the city or county was delivered to the mayor’s office last week.

Attorney Ben Jackson then gave a detailed explanation on media­tion. A mediator is someone who will meet with the county’s rep­resentatives alone – most of the time – and the city’s representatives alone – most of the time – to see if things can be worked out between the two parties. He will not make a final decision that is binding. If the parties don’t agree to parts of the compromise, those things will go before the judge. If agreement can be arranged, for example, on three out of five things, then the two things not agreed upon would go to the judge for a final decision.

Jackson also mentioned that if At­torney Barry Fleming is called away to the legislature, as he has been in the past, Attorney Kurt Worthington will attend in Fleming’s place. “I believe this will expedite matters,” said Jackson. Commissioner Coo­per Cliatt then asked Jackson how long mediation would take, with Jackson responding that it should take no more than a day or two, under normal circumstances. The SDS is the primary concern. Other issues include the sewerage rate. When both sides reach an agree­ment, it is typed at that time, and signed on the spot.

Lincoln County Senior Center Director Nancy Blount spoke to the board, detailing the specifics of a new grant she was able to procure from the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority. The grant, in the amount of $6,274 yearly, is for a portion of Blount’s salary. This will free up this amount of money to better serve the seniors. The savings would be spent on the seniors. Blount said that this would allow the visitors to the center to go on extended outings, provided the visitors met certain income levels and other requirements.

Blount then asked the commis­sioners to receive a gift of an ice machine for the center. The gift was offered by Cliatt because the center does not have one. By law, the board must formally accept the gift by vote. Cliatt was unanimously thanked for the donation.

In other business, Public Works Director Roby Seymour informed the board that a text change to an ex­isting ordinance needs to be made. Currently the existing requirement is for a contractor to post a perfor­mance bond of $1,000 to perform work in Lincoln County. Recently it was brought to Seymour’s atten­tion that, since this requirement was put in place to protect homeowners, the amount may not be enough to adequately help a homeowner if the contractor fails to complete a project correctly.

It was suggested that the bond amount be raised to $15,000, more in line with surrounding coun­ties. There was discussion as to whether contractors should come in immediately to post the new bond, or whether to let the $1,000 bond stand until the contractor’s business license come up for re­newal. The commission seemed to favor allowing the $1,000 stand until licenses are updated. Other text changes were made to several other ordinances, as required by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD.)

A brief discussion was made about a class action lawsuit that was won by a county in Utah against the U.S. Government. The U.S. govern­ment reduced the amount of money it paid the county, also known as “payment in lieu of taxes,” for land or property that was appropriated by the federal government. The federal courts then announced that all coun­ties that may have been affected by this ruling need to join the suit before payments are made. “There is a deadline to join this suit,” said Norman. “Lincoln County may not get anything out of this, but it costs nothing to join, so I believe we need to opt into this.” Jackson verified that the suit is legitimate, and is something routinely done to streamline the courts.

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