DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – On the second day of county budget hearings, it was time for the public defender’s office, elections and voter registration, extension service, finance department and public works to present their requests.
Director of Elections and Registration Glenda Ferguson requested a decrease of $9,875 since 2018 is a non-election year and fewer part-time personnel will be needed.
Extension Agent Clark MacAllister asked for a slight increase of about $5,000 to replace an antiquated analog phone system and a copier and fax machine.
Brad Morris in the Public Defender’s office requested an increase of $17,638 primarily to fund the hiring of two additional personnel.
Commissioner Sharon Fausett wanted to know if defendants are required to prove that they are indigent before they receive taxpayer funded legal representation.
Morris said there is a standardized state form defendants are required to complete to determine if they qualify as indigent.
“Is it that they don’t pay anything at all,” Fausett asked.
Morris explained the defendant must pay $50 for an interview and there is some payback through probation fees. “The judge can also order them to pay some attorney fees,” he said.
Finance Director Vickie Neikirk’s budget request was for an additional $33,000, most of which was to pay for the Board of Commissioners-approved county employee pay raise combined with an increase in group insurance.
Public Works Director David McKee asked for the largest total increase, but it would be spread over several diverse functions that fall under the Public Works Department umbrella – Administration, GIS, Roads, and the Transfer Station. An increase in his administrative budget comes from the movement of the stormwater management position from the planning and development department to public works. It is more of a shifting of funds than an actual increase for the county.
If approved, the transfer station would get an increase of $122,052 but that does not affect the general fund budget since it is covered by the revenue-bearing solid waste fund which currently has a balance of $1,796,130.
Roads department would get an increase of $74,907 while administration would receive an additional $63,397. The GIS/Engineering budget would be reduced by $9,875.
McKee requested the addition of two new positions in the roads department and that three part-time positions be combined into two full-time positions to create a four-man mowing crew. The crew’s responsibility would be mowing 40 hours a week during the growing season then switch to cutting back limbs and assisting in cleaning the county right of ways. McKee said a full-time mowing crew could help transform public works from being reactive to proactive.
“For example, this week, we were paving, finishing up some LMIG (local maintenance improvement grant) work and getting ready to move over to Biscayne subdivision,” he explained. “Yesterday, I received eight mowing calls and seven were substantiated. What do we do? We pull somebody off a crew and send them over to mow or I go do it or we take somebody who needs to be hauling solid waste and we go do that.”
Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond welcomed the addition of a full-time mowing crew. He pointed out the crew would be beneficial since it would allow other public works crews to get more road work done and reduce the need to bid road work out.
McKee also asked for one new position to work at the transfer station.
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