BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
9 MARCH 2022
Chairman Erin Curry opened the meeting asking for a motion on the 28 January 2022 minutes. Motion by Larry Worsham and seconded by Tommy Pollard was made for approval. Motion approved. (Prayer and pledge offered in previous same-day meeting)
First Item on agenda – Highway Amendment 131. After being discussed in previous Highway meeting, a motion by Roger Reedy and seconded by Tim Risner for approval was made and approved.
Second Item on agenda – County 101. Per Beth Moore-Sumners, Director Financial Management, this item is 1) to perform bookkeeping to realign the fund balance with the audited number; 2) for animal shelter, realign funds from motel/hotel tax to cover several small efforts such as concrete pour; 3) Re addition of 3 employees for the ambulance department to offset the gap of going from a 24 on 48 off to a 24 on 72 off. While not expecting the funding to be used in this budget year, the budget item is required to start the hiring process, per Beth. If funding is required this fiscal year, that will come from patient charges and will be a wash for this year, rather than taking from the county’s fund balance. A question by David Adams on how healthy is the motel/hotel line item, and Beth answered, healthy with an approximate balance of $700K. A motion by David Wamble, seconded by Roger Reedy, was made for approval.
Discussion on this motion was the following: Mike Cesarini asked about the remaining staff shortage, 13 short, and how many ambulances can be in service, how many people to man each ambulance, and does this spread same people over a larger area. David Wamble stated the new scheduling should attract more applicants and potential hires and could get to four ambulances operating. Nancy Griffin, Financial Management, noted that with additional hires there should be less over time worked helping to maintain the bottom line, with only the “now used” overtime being at the higher rate. Mike Cesarini noted this is the most “rosy picture” and while Beth responded with the other extreme (continuing with less and with more burnout of employees), she also noted that already the Director Roy Griggs has been contacted by two other counties to see if that is what will happen in Giles County. And those counties noted their concerns with their own employees leaving for Giles County with that enticement. Stoney Jackson voiced his concerns that other counties will simply follow suit and Roy noted that in several years being available to counties, only one other county has chosen to do so. County Executive Melissa Greene stated that she and Roy are the ones receiving calls when tragic events occur for the Giles citizens. Motion approved.
Third Agenda Item – Health Department Match. The health department has an opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $400K with a match from the county of 25%, $100K. This grant would cover repairs and updates to the building. After approval to apply, a list of projects, the development of which is currently being worked, will be provided to the county. Approval of the projects as well as the required funding can be done after notification of award to the county’s health department. Discussion on sources of match funding included motel/hotel tax, litigation levy, and fund balance. Several projects are already approved and are being reserved from some of the accounts, and with that discussion, David Wamble moved to take the $100K from the fund balance, Larry Worsham seconded. Motion approved.
Fourth Agenda Item – The Giles County Senior Center Funding request. The Center had provided a letter requesting the funding for the Center be restored to the previous years’ funding level. Discussion about how the request fit within the rules on when requests by non-profits can be made, (based on Joyce Morgan and Roger Reedy the recently passed guidelines were for the next budget year and this request was for the current year), what will the requested $10K funds be used for with Lois Aymett providing information on the use, specifically for hiring a part time clerk and for non-recurring costs. Concerns were raised that the request was for “padding” the fund balance of the Center. Mike Cesarini noted that the previous committee had voted for an increase to the Ambulance Service department funding and the Center served the same people, and that more than 18 percent of the Giles population are vulnerable seniors. Motion by David Wamble and seconded by Judy Pruett to deny the request was made and a roll call was taken with the motion approved to deny by a 4-3 vote with David Wamble, Tim Risner, Gayle Jones, and Larry Worsham voting yes and Roger Reedy, Judy Pruett , and Erin Curry voting no.
Fifth Agenda Item – Broadband. Melissa noted that the county has American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding of $4.5M. Two organizations have specifically asked for a letter showing county funding in process to cover the match required under the ARP funding, one being United ($1.5M) and the other being the local PES ($3.5M). ARP funds are available to cover up to 70% of eligible expenses for most projects. Applicants are responsible for the remaining 30%. The letters of support give organizations points within a system which determines who gets the award. Scott Newton, PES CEO, provided information on his request. That information included timelines for the award of the funding, meters, and specificity on technical requirements. Scott stressed the difference between the PES Board of Directors and United’s Board, or others, who are not located in Giles County, noting their decisions would not necessarily benefit the county, e.g. profits could be used to expand the companies into other states. Questions by several on what metric could be used to assure effort was successfully completed, e.g. meters, were raised and exactly what areas of coverage (in particular overlap with others) were being proposed. Meters which could be placed in house, businesses, barns, shops, etc and the distance between individual meter requirements make meters a poor measurement criteria. For overlap and in particular with the Ardmore company Scott said he would overlap only the Ardmore “loan area” not where construction is done, also mentioning overlap in some areas where the technology does not meet the ARP criteria, and that the ARP decision makers will potentially carve the awards as they see fit, not necessarily what is proposed. He had asked state if PES’ request as to the proposal could be reduced to show $3M, a partial from the county, and still receive some point advantage, and was told no (no partial points). Roger Reedy asked about future capabilities, e.g. use in off hours providing discounts to customers, and Scott replied could do monitoring at ¼ hour now and after this could do seconds.
Judy Pruett moved to approve up to $1.5M prorated for the total United award and up to $3.5M prorated for the total PES award (noting the $4.5 funding already approved and that the required additional $0.5M for PES come from the general fund balance.) Motion seconded by Roger Reedy. Motion approved. Question was raised about taking the $0.5M to the full commission but that was answered with this is a letter stating what is “in process”. All of this will have to come back to the full commission after award which well could include the “carving” mentioned above. Melissa stated these would be the only two letters going forward since the other requestors had not included any financial information. Stoney Jackson mentioned some remarks on social media that were not truthful and they indicated from PES. Scott asked for any specifics on where the information was untruthful. Stoney remarked to be sure to include the county approving this request.
Old business – Roger Reedy mentioned the letter on dead animals, but this is to be referred to the Environmental Committee.
Tim Risner moved for adjournment, with David Wamble seconding. Motion approved.
Attendees: Members of Committee – Commissioners Chairman Erin Curry, Larry Worsham, Tim Risner, Judy Pruett, Roger Reedy, David Wamble and Gayle Jones; Other Commissioners Stoney Jackson, David Adams, Duane Jones, Tracy Wilburn, Tommy Pollard, Terry Harwell, Rodney Journey, Harold Brooks, Bill Cary, Mike Cesarini, Rose Brown/ Other County Executive Melissa Greene, Financial Management Beth Moore-Sumners, Nancy Griffin, Liz Pate, Ambulance Roy Griggs, Highway Barry Hyatt and Steve Kelley/PES Scott Newton/Giles Senior Center Sonya Redd/ Public Bill Young and Barbara Harmon (Citizen paper)