The Union Recorder

October 16, 2013

Municipal elections create courthouse staff questions

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The upcoming Nov. 5 City of Milledgeville General Election requires Baldwin County Courthouse staff to insure property security measures are taken.

Court Services Supervisor Capt. Scott Deason brought department concerns to the Baldwin County Commissioners’ Tuesday meeting.

“The city hasn't approached us about how we are going to staff that,” Deason said. “The city doesn't have the responsibility and aren't mandated by the legislature to provide security at the courthouse. We are.”

Voting runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and requires the courthouse deputies to work overtime. 

Deason said deputies would work from 6:30 a.m. till possibly as late as 9 p.m. that Nov. 5 evening. 

The city compensates all poll workers during a municipal election. Deason said one option is sending Municipal Elections Superintendent Patti Rushin a bill at time and half rate.

“That's only fair for them to do. I can send Rushin an invoice based on my staff in hopes they will be compensated in a timely fashion like the rest of the people,” the courthouse supervisor said. “We are going to provide security here because that's what we have to do, but it's our contention it's a city expense not a county expense. If we don't do it, it's not going to get done.”

Commission Chair Sammy Hall, District 3, said the city must to be notified in advance if the county chooses to send a bill.

“If the bill needs to come from our office, that's no problem. We'll send it,” Hall said. “They need to be notified we are going to charge them up front. The city should pay all expenses for a city election.”

Deason said he'd tabulate employee times for a courthouse invoice to be sent to the city in a timely manner.

• Dirt road labor contract moves reconstruction forward

Baldwin County dirt road reconstruction is a reality after the County Commissioners received and accepted an annual labor contract bid from Ray Construction.

During last month's regular commissioners meeting, the board established the top-five problem roads for improvement as funds become available.

Starting with Lumpkin Road as a top priority, the board then selected Sibley, Moran Springs, Avery Store and Stallings Road in that order. 

Reconstruction will make the roads “all-weather.”

County Manager Ralph McMullen said previously the county hopes to get two or three roads done this year, as funds are available.

According to County Engineer Brian Wood, the solution includes having an outside contractor come in and reshape the roads, placing a decent base and gravel down. The dirt roads' crowns require a boost.

County Public Works could haul rock and dirt to get the labor cost down, according to McMullen.

The county is trying to negotiate purchase of a portion of the Lumpkin Road right-of-way to address the drainage issue with landowner Plum Creek Timber Company as well.

• Knock-off properties on county radar

McMullen said the county receives numerous calls about tax sale properties.

County Attorney David McRee described the properties acquired by judicial sale through Tax Commissioner Cathy Settle.

“We've acquired title to those properties that way. They are ready to go,” McRee said. “I think the decision has been made by county staff thus far that they wanted to hold those properties and sell them at the same time as the non-judicial properties.”

The county tax office has title information on 41 non-judicial properties.

Due to a busy tax season that info hasn't made it to McRee.

“As soon as I get that information, then we'll be able to complete the process to foreclose the right of redemption which prevents the previous owners from being able to come back and claim those properties,” McRee said. “That has to be done before we can sell them.”

• ATCC agreement means on-site drug testing

Commissioners accepted a request from the Baldwin County Adult Treatment Court Collaborative (ATCC) to enter into a one-year renewable agreement with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics for the acquisition of on-site drug testing equipment.

ATCC project director Amy Michaud said Siemens would provide the appropriate equipment based on expected drug testing volume as well as all training, certification of one operator and any further technical assistance.

“There is no matching funds required and no additional funds requested,” Michaud said. 

McRee said the agreement should increase the ATCC's efficiency and decrease operational cost.

Currently, the drug screen specimens are shipped to a California laboratory, where analysis can take up to 72 hours. This delays the ATCC's ability to impose timely sanctions for non-compliance.

Michaud said the county could offer this drug testing equipment to other local agencies. 

“We hope that could provide the revenue to the county,” Michaud said.

The Sheriff's Department is the on-site drug testing location.

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