Madison County commissioners have applied for $1.5 million in federal funds to offset expenses related to the coronavirus. If approved, that money will go toward local public safety expenses.
The board agreed Monday to apply for the money through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
County commission chairman John Scarborough said the county has already received $420,000 in CARES money, and he believes the county will receive the entire $1.5 million it’s seeking.
“It will be a huge boost for the county,” said Scarborough.
County attorney Mike Pruett said applying for the money is a complicated process, and he said Scarborough “worked hard to make it happen.”
VFDS CAN FILL UP AT COUNTY FARM
The Madison County government allows the industrial authority and county Rescue service to fill up on gas at the county farm, where they don’t have to pay sales tax. The commissioners agreed Monday to allow the county’s 11 departments to fill up their fire trucks and other department vehicles in the same manner. This does not extend to any personal vehicles of volunteers. Currently, only Shiloh and Poca fire departments have expressed an interest in the arrangement, but it is open to all fire departments. Shiloh chief Butch McDuffie said he appreciated the service and he also thanked the board for widening and repaving Jones Chapel Shiloh Road.
DISTRIBUTING SPLOST FUNDS
Scarborough asked commissioners to consider how they want to distribute sales tax funds.
County voters approved a renewal last year of a six-year, one-cent sales tax for county improvements. That tax is estimated to bring in $13 million over six years. The board approved a bond resolution to get $9 million of that money up front. Only two cities opted into the bond plan.
Scarborough said the board needs to consider what projects are funded first.
“Money will go to the projects; the only issue is timing,” he said.
Board members agreed that they want to see the county fire departments immediately get 60 percent of their six-year allotment so they can purchase needed equipment.
Scarborough said the commissioners should listen to requests from those seeking money first.
“It is extremely important that those services that have a pressing need have an opportunity to make a case to the board for that money,” he said.
Commissioner Derek Doster suggested the board reduce total advanced amounts to projects to ensure collections are received. This helps guarantee that projects addressed late in the six-year cycle aren’t compromised if sales tax collections fall short of what’s anticipated.
911 UPGRADES DISCUSSED
Madison County commissioners agreed to advertise “requests for proposals” (RFP) for a new radio system and a new building for the county 911 system. Newly elected commission chairman Todd Higdon, who will take office Jan. 1, told the board he had recent discussions with Sheriff Michael Moore and 911 director Brenan Baird about potentially moving the 911 center into the current EMS station off Hwy. 98 and building a new EMS station near Danielsville City Hall. Higdon noted that the sheriff’s investigative office could also be moved into the 911 facility.
Board members said they wanted to hear more about a possible change in plans from Moore and Baird. They agreed to advertise for RFPs, since there is not requirement that one is accepted.
NOISE AT GRP
Gina Ward, who lives .7 miles from Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) in Colbert, asked the commissioners to reverse a noise ordinance amendment passed last year. She played a recording of the sound of the GRP plant from her house at 1:38 a.m. She said the sound measured 72 decibels.
“The amendment to the noise ordinance impairs the ability of the sheriff’s office (to address noise complaints),” she said. “You gave this facility cart blanche to ruin our lives…I personally take issue with our community being treated that way.”
BOC members didn’t respond to Ward, who said she wouldn’t leave the podium until the commissioners told her they would take action.
Scarborough told Ward her time was up and then he moved on to another matter.
Shortly after, commissioner Lee Allen said he’d be willing to address the noise ordinance again. He said GRP isn’t the only business with noise complaints. He said Dollar in his district is pumping its septic system “at any hours of the night.”
“It may be something we look at again,” said Allen. “It’s OK to say ‘we’re wrong and things need to be looked at again.’”
4-H PROGRAM RECOGNIZED
Commissioners recognized accomplishments by the Madison County 4-H program Monday. The 4-H food challenge team, which includes Alyssa Goldman, Kaylie Goldman, Parker Varnadoe and Tiger Rupers and is coached by Cheryl Varnadoe recently achieved the Master 4-H award, winning at the state contest and continuing to the National Great American Seafood Contest, where they placed fourth.
The Madison County 4-H junior livestock judging team, which includes Emily Strickland, Robert Strickland, Mallory Lee, Morris Lee and Maggie Moon and is coached by Sarah Holmes, recently placed first in the state, with Emily Strickland winning as high individual in the state virtual contest.
Parker Varnadoe recently won the state 4-H project achievement contest for the performing arts, earning a Master 4-H award and winning the right to represent Georgia 4-H at the National 4-H Congress in November.