The Union Recorder

October 23, 2013

City clears courthouse staff payment question

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Last week’s Baldwin County Commission meeting included discussion on courthouse security staff payment concerns prior to the Nov. 5 Milledgeville General Election.

Tuesday’s Milledgeville City Council work session covered the city’s end.

Court Services Supervisor Capt. Scott Deason told commissioners the upcoming municipal election requires Baldwin County Courthouse staff to ensure proper security measures are taken.

Deason said voting runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that Tuesday and requires the courthouse deputies to work overtime. The courthouse supervisor said deputies would work from 6:30 a.m. until possibly as late as 9 p.m. that Nov. 5 evening. 

The deputy wanted to make sure his staff was adequately compensated for their time.

Mayor Richard Bentley said the city has and will pay for all associated election staffing costs.

“It was some miscommunication,” Bentley said. “This is the first time Capt. Deason has been in charge of the courthouse during city elections. It should not have been brought up at a meeting. It should have been brought up in private, but we do pay for those things and actually the county bills us for it.”

Councilwoman Denese Shinhoster, District 3, said the comments made it seem “as if we haven’t been paying our bill.”

Shinholster questioned why the city pays for the security service if it’s already mandated.

Councilman Phillip Joiner, District 4, and Shinholster said city voters pay county taxes also.

“While I think there is a very fair question as to why the city should pay for it being that it’s mandated for the sheriff’s department, regardless of whether we should do that or not, the city has dutifully paid for it in every single instance, and it was an inappropriate question to bring to a county commission meeting,” Joiner said Tuesday.

• County promises new fire radios by Nov. 15

The Milledgeville Fire Department is ready to completely switch to the 700-megahertz radio system.

Currently, Baldwin County Fire Rescue doesn’t work under that system. The county fire department still operates “Turbo” Digital VHF radios.

The city agreed to wait for the county in the best interest of fire scene communications.

Plans are to switch over to the new system by Nov. 15. 

“The county indicated to us that by the 15th of November or before they would have radios sufficient, so the county firemen could use the same radio and everybody would be on the same system,” City Manager Barry Jarrett said. “We haven’t been informed that they have them yet.”

Councilwoman Jeanette Walden, District 2, asked what would happened if the county didn’t get the necessary radios.

“They are going to have them by Nov. 15. That was our agreement,” Bentley said. “We did say whether they have them by then or not, we are going to the new system.”

Funding shortages placed the county behind the 700-radio supply train.

The county fire department has some 700 models but needs additional portables to fully integrate the entire combination full-time and volunteer department. 

Either by grant, lease-purchase or purchase means County Commission Chair Sammy Hall promised in September to get those radios by “whatever means we have to.”

City Manager Jarrett said previously each radio costs $3,400, originally purchased by joint city and county Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.

Anywhere from a $120,000 to $170,000 price tag for the additional radios depends on final assessment, according to County Manager Ralph McMullen’s previous statements. 

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