Supes balk at cutting grass, fixing lights at Dept. of Human Services

October 5, 2010 10:13:00 AM

Jason Browne - jbrowne@cdispatch.com

 

A request from the Lowndes County Department of Human Services wasn''t received quite as planned Monday by the Board of Supervisors. 

 

DHS Director Yvonne Brown e-mailed District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks asking for the county''s assistance in trimming "three-feet-high" grass, installing lighting in the parking lot and painting portions of the office interior of the DHS building at 1604 College St. When Brooks brought the request to the board''s attention, District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders immediately reminded the board that DHS received a brand new building from the county in 2003 after the old building was damaged by a tornado, and receives $30,000 in building maintenance funds from the county for projects precisely like those for which Brown was requesting assistance. Furthermore, DHS is a state agency and does not pay rent on the building. And last, but certainly not least, Sanders reminded the board that, while in the old building, the Lowndes DHS paid the county an amount equal to the depreciation in value of the building each year in lieu of rent, but ceased the practice after moving into the new building. 

 

"They can''t pay rent, so we put the building on a depreciation schedule and they reimburse us with a check. When we built the new building for them, they quit paying," said Sanders following the meeting. "The new director down there (Brown) keeps putting it off. We''ve told them time and again there is a memorandum of understanding (mandating the depreciation payments) between DHS and the county that needs to be updated. But since the tornado blew the building down, she says she can''t find it." 

 

Brown was traveling Monday and could not be reached for comment for this story. 

 

Sanders believes the Lowndes DHS might be "stonewalling" to receive additional services free of cost to offset state budget cuts. He says the county already pays 80 percent of DHS'' phone bill and the parking lot for which DHS is requesting lighting belongs to the city. Additionally, the county has already cut the grass near the DHS building several times. 

 

"All Ms. Brown has to do is call somebody (to do the work) and pay for it out of their own maintenance budget," said Sanders. 

 

He said the depreciation payments on the old DHS building totaled around $30,000 a year, allowing the county to break even. 

 

Brooks agreed to relay the board''s concerns to DHS when he replied to Brown''s e-mail. 

 

In other business the board: 

 

· Rescheduled a hearing for Keith Kimmerle, a homeowner in Oakdale Park, who the county says refuses to care for his yard, to Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. 

 

Sanders said Kimmerle''s property has become a health hazard, but he refuses to bring it up to code. He was scheduled to appear before the board Monday but e-mailed Friday to say he would be out of town. 

 

· Accepted bids for firms to conduct the county''s 2011 and 2012 audits to Breazeale, Saunders & O''Neil, Ltd. 

 

Another firm, Fortenberry and Ballard PC, submitted a bid which was $9,700 cheaper, but did not include a certification schedule, a salary rate schedule or offer to have a Certified Public Accountant on the job site as did Breazeale, Saunders & O''Neil. 

 

· Heard from engineer Bob Calvert, who informed the board the state agency supplying $1,305,000 for the construction of North Steel Road, which will lead to Mississippi Steel Processing near Severstal, had been switched from the Appalachian Regional Commission to state Debtor-In-Possession funds. 

 

Calvert, of Calvert-Spradling Engineers, said the switch eliminates one level of bureaucracy and will lead to swifter completion of the road. Sanders said the road is needed by February but may have taken up to eight months to complete through ARC funding. 

 

· Heard from District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, who had contacted the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District regarding ditch drainage to prevent flooding on private property in District 4.  

 

Smith reported Tombigbee resources were unavailable to begin work on the ditches. Sanders agreed, stating all of Tombigbee''s equipment is currently tied up in West Point repairing the bridge at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 45 Alternate.