The Jan. 8 meeting was also the first for the board’s two newest members, District One Commissioner Kenneth Smith and District Three Commissioner John Dobbs, both of whom were elected to the posts during the 2012 election season.
Smith replaces former Commissioner Eric Robinson, who unsuccessfully challenged Chairman Allen Poole. Dobbs took the seat held by former Commissioner Vance Posey, who had survived a Democratic challenger during the primary, but who lost to Dobbs during the Nov. 6 general election.
The commissioners approved two separate budget amendments in which they added funds to the bottom line of several departments. One of these amendments involved what the board described as a $24,000 “windfall” for the county.
As explained by Poole and County Clerk Alison Palmer, a certificate of deposit (CD) was discovered when the West Georgia Regional Water Authority was discontinued a couple of months ago. That matured CD, with interest, amounted to $94,740.47.
The regional water authority was established in 1988 for the purpose of acquiring a regional water reservoir, and was composed of representatives from Haralson, Carroll, Paulding and Polk counties. The disbanding of the authority, however, led to the four governments dividing the CD equally, and Haralson’s share amounted to $23,685.24.
Palmer explained that Haralson officials decided that “since this was kind of a bonus windfall that no one expected,” the funds would be evenly distributed among the seniors in Haralson, Bremen and Tallapoosa, and among the libraries of Buchanan, Bremen and Tallapoosa, so that each of those six entities received $3,947.54.
The commissioners unanimously approved the disbursement of the funds according to the plan.
The other budget amendment, which amounted to $73, 858 dollars, covered several items, including:
• The transfer of salary and related funds to the Tax Assessor’s office from the Road Department, following the transfer of a Road Department employee to the tax department.
• Allocation of $5,700 to the Tax Assessor’s office for the hiring of a consultant.
• Funds for the continuation of a part-time person in the probation office involved in pre-trial hearings.
• Funding for an assistant to the district attorney for juvenile cases. This was part of an intergovernmental agreement with Polk County by which the two counties would split the cost on a 60/40 basis, with Polk paying 60 percent of the cost.
• A subsidy of $7,276 to the Health Department, to fulfill a promise that those funds would be provided when available.
• Funds for the Permits Office to cover office supplies used during an extensive mapping project.
In other business, the commissioners voted to give nine paid holidays to county employees during the year, in what they called a “token of appreciation” for the employees’ hard work. Those holidays are: New Years Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and the day following Christmas.
District 2 Commissioner Jamie Bennett thanked the board for the action, noting that many county employees had not received raises in several years. She said providing the paid holidays was “the right thing to do” to show appreciation for the employees.
The commissioners also voted unanimously to reappoint Tallapoosa attorney Meng Lim as county attorney, and to re-appoint Alison Palmer as county clerk. The commissioners also chose District 4 Commissioner Sammy Robinson to serve as vice chairman of the board.
Also, the commissioners approved a new plan on splitting fees collected into the Victim Assistance Fund, giving the majority share to the District Attorney’s office and the balance to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.
Funds for the Victim Assistance program comes from a five percent fee the county collects in addition to fines collected through its various court systems. County Clerk Palmer explained those fees can only be distributed to certified agencies.
One of those, she said, was administered by the district attorney, whose budget has been “severely cut” due to the loss of state and other grants. The other program is run by CASA, whose web site describes it as a program that supports abused and neglected children placed in foster care.
The plan unanimously approved by the commissioners will split the funds on a 90/10 basis, with the DA’s office receiving 90 percent of disbursements from the fund and CASA receiving 10 percent. Previously, the organization had received 5 percent of the fund.