Request made for $4.3 million
By Stephanie Johns
For Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office has put in a request for $4.3 million for both their office and the jail, according to County Finance Director Lori Sayer.
The difference between what the county recommended and what the sheriff’s office requested: $793,000, which represents a 25 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.
During the Tuesday budget workshop of the Morgan County Commission, County Manager Michael Lamar noted that the county had not reached an agreement with the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office has requested additional funds to cover raises, six new personnel positions, eight cars and additional items, according to Sayer.
Sayer shared a copy of a 16-page “Capital Investment in Public Safety Proposal” from the sheriff’s office with the Citizen.
The proposal identified “four critical areas directly impacting daily operations that require immediate attention.”
These four areas are: radio communications, motor vehicle-fleet management, staffing levels and salaries.
Sayer explained that the county wanted most departments to hold the line, not necessarily cut 3 percent from their budgets. For the sheriff’s office, though, Sayer said the county anticipated a 2 percent increase for salaries and benefits.
During a later phone interview, Sheriff Robert Markley said that the proposal was intended to serve as a roadmap – a three-year plan – to get the office where it needs to be.
By Patrick Yost
Morgan County authorities on Monday identified and placed under arrest two suspects for carjacking and the theft of a Jeep from a Walter Shepherd Road resident on Sunday, April 21.
According to Capt. Chris Bish, Criminal Investigations Division, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, Quwan Raymon Kendrick, 21, Atlanta, and Nardkerria Milling, 18, Atlanta, were both arrested and charged with their alleged participation in the Walter Shepherd Road carjacking and auto theft.
According to earlier reports, Kendrick allegedly jumped from a van driven by Milling and stole a Honda from the Walter Shepherd Road resident while the resident was outside working on a lawn mower. The resident and his son gave chase in a Jeep but were thwarted in Walton County when Kendrick allegedly stopped the stolen Honda and pointed a pistol at the pair. Kendrick forced both men from the Jeep, reports state, and forced them into a wooded area. He then allegedly left in the Jeep.
The gun used, earlier reports stated, had been left in the Honda by the
Walter Shepherd Road resident.
The van allegedly driven by Milling was later located near the Georgia Fisheries Station west of Rutledge. That van also had been reported as stolen.
Bish said Kendrick also has been charged with the Feb. 24 theft of a vehicle from an Old Mill Road resident. That vehicle, Bish said, was later used in an armed robbery in Conyers. Bish said Kendrick is also suspected of additional residential burglaries and auto thefts in Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
He also may face further charges in Walton County, Bish said.
Printed in the May 9, 2013 edition.
By Stephanie Johns
Morgan County has taken steps to address a $1.8 million shortfall in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget, according to County Manager Michael Lamar.
He said that during his tenure with the county “this has been among the most difficult to bring into balance,” in part because of the continuing reduction in property values.
An existing fund balance of $1.17 million will help make up the shortfall, he said. Once this amount is used, Lamar said the remaining fund balance will be at about 19 percent, or roughly in the middle of the 15 to 25 percent range auditors recommend.
“I feel confident that a 19 percent operating balance is reasonable under the circumstances,” he said.
County Finance Director Lori Sayer agreed: “This does give us some cushion.”
Also, a minimum savings of $90,000 due to health insurance premium reductions and a reduction in expenses and increases in revenue of $200,000 will help.
Lamar added that in most cases the county has reached an agreement with the various department heads and constitutional officers regarding their individual budgets. They still have budgets from the Sheriff’s Office and the Fire Department to address, though.
He also said that the county plans to increase its millage rates 0.5 mills to bring in an additional $344,000. He explained that this increase equates to about $15 more for the average homeowner.
Regarding personnel, Lamar suggested several positions that could be eliminated: the administrative assistants for both the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Department of Forestry; a victims’ advocate position; reducing bailiff positions by half; and eliminating the Department of Corrections road crew.
Developers have plans for four phases, only intend to complete Phase I
By Stephanie Johns
After more than an hour-and-a-half of presentations and comments – from planners, city and county staff, and members of the public – the Morgan County Planning Commission voted to table requests pertaining to a Bethany Road project.
Curry Wadsworth with Athens-based Parallel Housing sought to have four pieces of property rezoned from planned professional district (PPD) to planned residential district (PRD).
During the course of the meeting he explained that Parallel Housing and its partner, the Woda Group, wanted to build a 44-unit apartment home development for those aged 55 and older in phase one of the four-phase project.
“We had to submit a rezone for the entire site,” he said. “Our particular interest is in phase one.”
This came as a surprise to planners, according to Chair Brian Lehman: “Your purpose is to rezone all, but you only have plans for phase one.”
Madison City Planner Bryce Jaeck explained that because the property already is PPD, planning commissioners have to deal with the whole thing: “It’s all or nothing.”
Commissioner Scott Campbell asked if the owner of the property could cut out phase one now and ask for it to be rezoned.
By Patrick Yost
Morgan County Sheriff’s Office deputies last Thursday arrested a male and female in connection with an alleged carjacking in Rutledge. A juvenile has also been detained in connection with the arrest and, according to Capt. Chris Bish, sheriff’s office’s Criminal Investigations Division, the arrests are the beginning of a possible vast criminal conspiracy that stretches from Morgan County to Atlanta.
Law enforcement has declined to identify the suspects at this time “so as not to jeopardize the result of other impending investigations.”
On Sunday, April 17, a 2014 Honda CRV was stolen from the driveway of a Walter Shepherd Road residence while the vehicle’s owner was working on a lawnmower in the yard. The owner and his son gave chase in a Jeep, but in Walton County the perpetrator of the Honda theft stopped the vehicle and forced the two men from the Jeep at gunpoint. The Jeep was then stolen. Officers located a van near the Walton/Morgan County line that had been used to drop off the suspect. It too had been reported stolen from College Park.
The stolen Jeep and two other stolen vehicles were located in Atlanta, Bish said.
According to Bish the arrest of the two suspects came after a search warrant was served at an Atlanta residence of one of the suspects. Bish said officers have located a vast amount of stolen items at the residence including televisions and computers. He also said a vehicle stolen in Morgan County several months ago has been identified in connection with an armed robbery in Conyers.
By Stephanie Johns
Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH) had a net income of negative $21,029 for March, according to CEO Ralph Castillo.
He explained to members of the Morgan County Hospital Authority during that group’s April meeting that while net patient revenue was higher than expected at $1,104,726, operating expenses stood at a total of a negative $1,141,557.
According to the ‘Financial Update: March 2013’ document, revenue was below budget by $30,000. Expenses, on the other hand, were above budget in three areas: employee benefits, professional fees and purchased services.
Employee benefits were over due to health insurance claims while architect fees, a salary survey and the costs for a temporary accountant played a part in the professional fees.
As for purchased services, Castillo said that a radiology machine broke and they had to replace it so this was not budgeted.
Year-to-date for 2013 the hospital stands at a negative $354,000 while for the same time period in 2012 it stood at a negative $176,000.
The difference between the two numbers is due in large part to the fact that the hospital has yet to receive its Electronic Health Record (EHR) funding.
During the group’s March meeting, Castillo and CIO Patrick Cook shared that while the hospital had not made any mistakes in requesting its EHR funding, because of a mistake made by Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) they were not going to receive those funds until the end of the calendar year.
Since that March meeting the hospital received assistance from its accounting/auditing firm Draffin & Tucker as well as contacted the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services.
The end result: the hospital should receive its EHR funds before the end of the fiscal year, Castillo said.