By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

During a special called meeting following a work session of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC), the commission voted in favor of purchasing a 2013 LeeBoy 1000F Asphalt Paver for $58,500.

Roads & Bridges Supervisor Greg Pennington expressed his interest in Roads & Bridges having the ability to do resurfacing projects, stating that a savings of 50 to 70 percent could be achieved by doing such work in house.

Another benefit of the county owning its own paver will be that Roads & Bridges will be able to deal with road resurfacing issues and “mobilize on a moment’s notice” said Pennington.

County Manager Michael Lamar noted that the LeeBoy 1000F would be perfect for the county because of its ease of use and ability to build shoulders up to three feet wide on the roadside.

“We’re not going to be perfect when we start,” said Pennington about operating the machine. “You’ve got to crawl before you walk, but I hope that, one day, we’ll run.”

Commission Chair Ellen Warren thanked Pennington for his initiative regarding this project.

The board also approved the reclassification and pay increase of two openings in the Roads & Bridges department to deal with the necessary tasks related to resurfacing. Those open positions would be crew leader/spreader operator and spreader/packer operator.

The board also approved year-end amendments to the fiscal year 2013 budget, as well as an audit to be done on the 2013 budget.

The amendments to the general budget show that there was over $185,000 in overall savings from the original budget, but several departments came in over budget, including Parks and Recreation, which was more than $68,000 over budget because of unexpected natural gas costs and participation revenues.

Workers compensation and retirement contributions accounted for over $100,000 of expenditures over the original budget across the board.

Finance Director Lori Sayer stated that those costs were not directly caused by the departments themselves, and Commissioner Ron Milton said that the over-budget expenditures were “all explainable.”

The board also voted to charge Georgia Intervention Alternatives $25 per month for a period of one year to hold court-ordered service classes at the Public Safety Complex.

Georgia Intervention Alternatives, which is certified by the Department of Corrections, plans to offer a number of court-appointed classes, including Alcohol, Drug, and DUI classes, as well as classes for Domestic Violence, Anger Management, and a Sexual Offender Program at the Public Safety Complex.

Dr. Sandra Williams of Georgia Intervention Alternatives told the board that, while the company is technically for-profit, they try to minimize the cost for the student by rolling fees back into the program itself, which allows them to serve rural areas that aren’t able to support full-time programs.

“I have a passion for rural communities,” said Williams.

The county will bear no costs associated with this service.

The BOC discussed the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission’s (NEGRC) 2014 Aging Services Contract with Morgan County. According to Lamar, the NEGRC initially offered $107,000 for aging services, which would have been a $7,000 increase from the 2013 contract, but recent correspondence from the NEGRC stated that they will be cutting more than $9,000 from the 2014 contract, bringing their offer to only a little more than $98,000.

“It’s their game,” said Lamar about the shifting amount indicated in the contract.

“We have no choice,” added Warren.

Two matters were brought before the BOC by Lamar for future consideration. The first was to consider moving away from a benefit retirement system for new hires and towards a contribution system, where the county would dedicate to pay a certain amount per month.

According to Lamar, such a system would “help lower retirement liability,” and he plans to have a plan outlined for the BOC for their September meeting.

Lamar has also been in the process of devising an updated system for position categories and pay bands for Morgan County employees.

Lamar described the current system for position categories and pay bands as a “complex, cumbersome program [that] we are not following.”

Under Lamar’s provisionary plan, the number of pay bands would be reduced as well as the position classifications, simplifying the system greatly.

The plan would also allow the county manager to approve up to 10 percent more than the minimum pay for any pay band should they see fit. Any additional increase, however, would have to be approved by the BOC.

Milton approved of the direction indicated in Lamar’s plan, stating that “it looks like it would really simplify the process.”

Lamar stated that he would begin work of fleshing out the plan and have a proposal for the board by their October meeting, tentatively.