April 1, 2009
Across the country, news of a struggling national economy has been dominating headlines and news shows for several months.
And while people across America are attempting to spend less and cut back on their costs of living, a few Lowndes County entities drew criticism from District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders during a Tuesday morning county Board of Supervisors meeting for attempting to "shift the burden" from themselves to the county government.
During the meeting, county Road Manager Ronnie Burns presented requests from Lake Lowndes State Park and the Lowndes County School District attempting to receive county funding for a pair of maintenance projects.
The Lowndes County School District requested the county spray herbicide on a parking area at the district''s school bus maintenance shop. Lake Lowndes State Park officials requested the board purchase two loads of gravel, one load of crushed limestone and provide two new or used culverts to use for maintenance work at the park.
Although the board voted to approve spraying the grass at the school''s bus maintenance shop, board members voted down the state park''s request for maintenance materials.
But the county will provide some labor for the state park''s project, and will donate a pair of used culverts already owned by the county, the board decided.
"It''s hard to put a price tag on spraying the grass or on those two loads of gravel and the load of crushed limestone. Those prices change all the time, so I usually bring requests like that to the board before I figure the prices," county Road Manager Ronnie Burns explained.
"Personally, I think it would be a good gesture to agree to provide some of the labor and donate the culverts to the state park," Burns said to the board.
While Sanders said he did not have a problem providing in-kind labor to state and county agencies, he expressed displeasure with buying materials for the entities.
"I don''t have a problem doing the work for them, but I don''t think we should be responsible for buying the materials and providing the labor for some of these agencies," said Sanders. "A lot of the agencies that come to us with these kind of projects have their own budgets.
"It seems like as the economy has gotten worse, they are asking for more and more of these kind of things," Sanders added. "It just seems to me like they should budget more money to do these kind of things and not shift the burden to the county and the taxpayers."
However, officials with the county school board and state park said they were attempting to do what they have done for years.
"The county has always worked with us on things like this to help us keep our budget in check," said Barbara Caldwell, park manager at Lake Lowndes State Park. "It''s getting close to the end of our budget year and we are a little short on money until we pass our new budget.
"There was a house bill passed many years ago that gives the county government of any county with a state park the authority to donate up to $5,000 a year at its discretion to help the park out," Caldwell added. "I''m not sure if that particular bill is still in effect, though. All we know to do is ask when stuff like this comes up. The Board of Supervisors is obviously free to say yes or no."
LCSD Superintendent Mike Halford said the Board of Supervisors historically has provided much in-kind service to the school board.
"They have done it before in the past, so that''s why we ask," Halford said. "Harry is a good friend and a great supervisor for the county schools. He''s done a lot for us in the past and is good about helping us get things done."
While the Board of Supervisors in the past has provided in-kind service to several county agencies, the nation''s economic climate may have the board considering new donation guidelines, Sanders said.
"I''m not suggesting that we cut out in-kind service completely. I just think we should set some guidelines for them," said Sanders. "I know we''ve done it for years, and I guess now isn''t the time to stop it altogether. I just think we should set some kind of limit to what we are willing to do."
In other business, the board:
The final stages of the project include paving on Charleigh Ford Road, traffic signals on Airport Road and erosion control measures around Airport Road. The project is expected to be completed within the next several weeks.
Because the drainage ditches are not properly graded, and because culverts near the intersection are damaged and not able to properly channel water, the area is subject to frequent flooding, said Lowndes County Engineer Bob Calvert.
Because much of the area near the intersection is privately owned, the board voted to seek the aid of the TVA Water Management District, a company with a history of helping the county repair drainage problems.
If the culvert replacements and ditch grading are expected to cost more than $10,000, the TVA Water Management District board must first approve the project before work begins. If it is expected to ring in less than $10,000, only the company''s director must approve it.
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