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Conflict continues

Long-simmering conflicts between the Jeff Davis County Commission and the Jeff Davis County Board of Assessors continued last week at the commission’s December meeting.
Issues began during the Public Comments section of the meeting when David Desousa of the Tax Assessors Board gave the commissioners copies of a contract with Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions and Services, better known as GMASS, one of two companies that supplied bids for a 3-year revaluing of county property.
Desousa held the position that the Board of Assessors had the power to solicit and accept bids, but some commission members thought otherwise.
Desousa told the commissioners that the only connection the commission has with the Board of Assessors is appoint its members and approve its funding.
Commissioner Hank Hobbs, who had discussed the matter with Dave Wills of the Association County Commissions of Georgia (ACCG), said the Board of Assessors had to follow the county bid procedures in soliciting quotes, which would include advertising for bids in the county’s legal organ, the Jeff Davis Ledger.
Commissioner Brad Crews disagreed with Desousa’s position saying “so you’re saying you can decide how to spend the people’s money and we can’t.”
Hobbs said Wills was to call him back after researching the situation and he suggested the commissioners wait to see what the ACCG says and then go from there.
When the meeting advanced to the agenda item to appoint members to the Board of Assessors, the commissioners agreed to move the item to the end of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, Crews said he’d like to see the size of the Board of Assessors to be increased from three to five members. Hobbs agreed and so did Desousa.
With that the commissioners voted unanimously to increase the size of the Board of Assessors.
Crews also made the motion to stagger the terms, having some serve three years, some two and some one so that eventually all five members will be on 3-year staggered terms. That was also approved unanimously.
There was some discussion of whether the terms should be three or five years at which point County Attorney Carla Powell suggested she work out the staggered terms procedure for approval at a later date.
Crews then requested that once the matter is handled, the Board of Assessors schedule their meetings for 5 p.m. or later so the general public can attend. Assessors meetings are normally held earlier in the day.
The county had received three applications from citizens requesting to be appointed to the Board of Assessors and Claude Cobb and Chester Yawn were approved. When Commissioner Ricky Crosby moved to name Sheila Rucker to fill the third position, the motion died for a lack of a second. The commissioners will advertise to see if any other citizens are interested in serving.
In other action, the commissioners ….
…. heard again from Karen Edge who pointed out that three area counties operate their own Head Start programs and, at one time, Jeff Davis County operated its own. Non-profit Concerted Services now operates the local Head Start program and several other area programs. Edge also inquired how long it has been since a Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) has been utilized in the county. Commission Clerk Sherri Lytle said it had been over three years. Edge asked the commissioners to find out how many people are served by Concerted Services locally and why Jeff Davis County is not operating its own program.
[Concerted Services Inc. has changed its name to Action Pact which serves 29 counties in southeast Georgia with administrative offices in Reidsville and Waycross.]
…. approved backing the Board of Education’s bond issuance.
…. approved a resolution to allow application for a $65,000 Land and Water Conservation Grant for the Jeff Davis Recreation Department.
…. appointed Jonathan Lee Morris to the Joint Development Authority.
…. reappointed Chuck Crosby to the Recreation Department Board and appointed Brenda Reynolds and Laura Laney to the board.
…. tabled action on an amended beer and wine ordinance.
…. tabled approving the only bid received for reroofing the USDA and Department of Family and Children Services buildings.
…. approved keeping the courthouse open through lunch on the Friday before Christmas.
…. reappointed Crews to the Jeff Davis Hospital Board and Crosby to the Health Department Board.

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