6/26 and 6/27 BOC Special Meeting Minutes

JUNE 26 and 27, 2014

The Gordon County Board of Commissioners held a Special Meeting Friday, June 26, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 27, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. in a Conference Room at the Unicoi State Park Lodge in Helen, Georgia for the purpose of strategic planning.



Mr. Langford Holbrook, facilitator with the Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, began the meeting by asking each commissioner, the County Administrator and the Finance Director their thoughts on what must happen for this planning session to be successful. Answers ranged from, come up with a mission statement, a vision for the county, determine Boards’ expectation of role of staff, and all members wanted to learn how to grow the economy.

During discussion of what needs improvement in the county, comments were concerning fire coverage, relationship with cities, attract industry, Freeport, more things for kids to do in the county, and more and better restaurants.

On future trends and needs of the county, mentioned items were, college/career, energy tax, concerns with health care costs, reserves being used, and the I-75 corridor.

The Board adjourned at 6:30 p.m. until the next morning where they convened at 8:30 a.m.

The Board reviewed missions and goals for the county and then went on to discuss trends such as health care costs, Hispanic population, aging population, energy tax, and reserves being used.

Mr. Holbrook updated the Board on SPLOST guidelines and the ballot for the 2012 SPLOST was reviewed for the actual wording of how the funds could be spent. Current SPLOST projects were discussed and a proposed solution to space needs and where personnel could be moved to while courthouse renovation was going on was discussed.

Finance Director, Al Leonard, spoke to the Board concerning SPLOST and LOST funds increases in the last two months, and the revenues down. His question to the Board was how you grow to get this revenue back. Other items Mr. Leonard brought up was that number of employees have not increased over the last 10 years except in the public safety areas of Sheriff Department and Fire Department, a new jail was built and a new fire station, these were the two reasons for the increase there. The other areas in the county have only increased by very few employees.

Health Insurance was a much discussed subject by the Board. Also discussed was consideration of a compensation study and changes to the personnel policy.

When asked by Mr. Holbrook what the commissioners’ personal preferences for change were, balancing the budget, fire protection countywide, economic development, completion of the parking deck, fire station, and new animal shelter facility, create opportunities, and business parks were suggested.

During discussion of economic development, the Board agreed that there was a disconnect between the Board and the Development Authority when it came to growth. Possible solutions suggested by Board members were that each Board member pick a business to go to and to thank them for being in Gordon County and finding out what the Board could do to make things better for them and getting more involved in enticing companies to come to Gordon County and to keep companies already here to stay here.

Other specific actionable items to strive for were: develop a staffing plan, service area for fire coverage, greater fire protection in all areas of Gordon County, study courthouse swing space downtown to determine feasibility, get an appraisal on a small building that was suggested was no longer needed by the county, support new County Administrator to enable him to succeed, go to a committee plan. During discussion of this last item, Al Leonard named four committees needed which were – Finance/Budget; General Services; Public Safety, and Public Works. There was a consensus of the Board to move forward immediately with forming these committees to be made up of persons coming under those headings plus one commissioner. Commissioners would serve on a committee for one year and then rotate to another committee, so that after serving four-year terms each commissioner would have served on all four committees. To begin, Commissioner Steward will serve on the Finance/Budget; Commissioner Gazaway will serve on the General Services, Commissioner Cunningham will serve on the Public Safety, and Commissioner Sexton will serve on the Public Works.

There was also discussion of having one or two Department Heads report to the Board at each Work Session on their departments and what was happening in their departments.

There was an issue clarified by the Board about who the Election and Voter Registration should report to directly. The Board reached a consensus to have the Election and Voter Registration department report to the County Administrator.

The Board’s discussion of economic development was a very much discussed point and members felt very strongly that more should be done to advance the county through better economic development. The actionable item at the top of the list was that the Board needs to develop a strategy for better economic development.

The Board adjourned at 2:00 p.m., and further activity was a dinner that evening and a team building session.

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