ANOTHER LONG TIME COUNTY EMPLOYEE FIRED

July 30, 2014

Axe & chop blockRONNIE FRANKLIN, PARAMEDIC, FIRED TODAY

Another long time Jasper County employee was put on the chopping block today. Ronnie Franklin has worked with Jasper County EMS for 14 ½ years. His “crime” is the same as other employees that have been fired—Gross Insubordination. We have also been told that he was told he was fired for gross negligence and using the county vehicle for personal use. If he is fired for that, then several other people should be terminated.

This morning Debria Murphy, not James Gregory the EMS director, sent a text to Mr. Franklin summoning him to the BOC office. Mr. Franklin had been off work for the past few days, but was told to be at the BOC office this morning. When he got there he was confronted by James Gregory, Sharon Robinson, and Karen Degges.

While Karen Degges was telling Mr. Franklin how bad he was, Debria Murphy was in her “billing office” texting people in Putnam County that Ronnie Franklin was being fired. Ronnie also works at Putnam County EMS part time and has done so for the past 5 to 6 years.

Debria Murphy seems to rule the roost at the EMS; even so, her texting on county time about a personnel issue is not only unprofessional but would be enough to fire anyone else.

As far as using a county vehicle for personal use, Facebook posts tell of stopping to shop at Bass Pro Shop by Roy Perry and his partner in the ambulance after a call that took them to Macon. Another Facebook posts tells of Keith Haddock and his partner taking the ambulance to his house to fix his pool on Alexander Rd.; he was stationed at Station 1 on Jackson Lake.   None of this will matter because these people are special friends and cronies of James Gregory and Jarrett Slocumb.

The BOC needs to get a handle on who is being fired and who is being allowed to do whatever they want. We already know how our County Manager/Finance Director, Karen Degges, hired Debria Murphy under false pretenses, so anything she does seems to be okay.

Our next post will expose a few more examples of how cronyism is alive and well in the BOC office as well as at EMS. Some people can do as they wish, while others are punished. It’s the Jasper County way and has been for a long time.

 

Posted in County, EMS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

HOW TRAMMELL, SALMON, AND DEGGES WORKED TOGETHER TO GET JCWSA ALL THE MONEY THEY WANT

July 27, 2014

Pay offWhen JCWSA becomes the subject of conversation with Gene Trammell and Craig Salmon facts do not matter. What you can twist and turn and say happened, are what matters; not the actual documents, letters, forms, or news articles, and the fact the public voted against having JCWSA in 1998.

It has always appeared that Trammell and Salmon ran for their commission seats in order to bail out JCWSA and to dump that debt on the taxpayers of this county. They tried doing so while they were on the JCWSA by repeatedly threatening lawsuits against the BOC. Salmon is still trying to convince USDA to step in and demand the BOC pay for JCWSA’s debt by writing letters on his own and not at the direction of the BOC. This is an ethical violation on his part, and on the part of the rest of the BOC for not stopping him.

Trammell and Salmon have all but succeeded in getting the taxpayers to bail out (once again) the JCWSA by convincing Luke and Henry to believe everything they and the county manager present. Pennamon has always voted to support JCWSA. Luke and Henry have no background in knowing any of the history of JCWSA except what Salmon and Trammell have convinced them of. They haven’t reviewed the numerous documents available—instead Luke has spouted off about how the county won’t be able to get loans or have a good credit rating if JCWSA fails to pay USDA in a timely manner, and even how USDA would come in and turn off people’s water. As a note, USDA loans millions of dollars a DAY for all types of projects, and we have yet to read where they have sued anyone for being late on their payments (such as JCWSA) or even when they went bankrupt (such as Peachtree City and its golf course several years ago). Fear mongering has allowed JCWSA to get money from the BOC for years; Luke, Salmon, and Trammell tried to continue that trend at the 7/21/14 BOC meeting.

Luke was ready to give money to JCWSA Monday night after Karen Degges presented her messy and complicated (her words) work sheet to come up with just the figure Trammell and Salmon wanted for JCWSA and to suggest (no doubt, at their prompting over the past few weeks) that all this be paid to JCWSA right now since the county had so much money. (See COUNTY FLOATING IN MONEY ACCORDING TO COUNTY MANAGER) Degges had been out of the office the prior week due to illness in her family; she came back only for that night’s meeting and to present her work sheet and her recommendations—fronting JCWSA money for this year’s taxes and giving money they say is due to them. It is an amazing coincidence that these figures are so much like the figures presented by JCWSA and their lawyer in December. Salmon and Trammell couldn’t present the figures themselves or it would be perceived as a greater conflict of interest than it appears now.

Salmon stated in the meeting that he had the letter from USDA for a month and had given it to each BOC member then. It appeared he and Trammell have worked with Degges to come up with what happened in the meeting 7/21/14. Trammell mentioned the exchange of emails with Degges.

 

In 2009, Brack Pound, the Chair of JCWSA, convinced Ronnie Payne that the BOC owed JCWSA money. That amount was $27,860 which was paid 8/18/09. This was approved 3-2 with Payne, Pennamon, and Hill voting yes; Patrick and Cox voting no. (This was the last meeting Payne attended. He resigned about 2 weeks later.) After this payment, no more money was supposed to be due; this was all the JCWSA needed and everything would be fine—a story that had been repeated numerous times by JCWSA. That happened before Salmon got on the JCWSA board.

Fast forward to the 7/21/14 meeting. The same old resolution was brought up about paying for fire hydrants. The resolution is null and void, not because it was voted as such in 2012 but because it is not in the minutes of the 7/1/02 meeting and there is no recorded vote of it ever being discussed or voted on. STATE LAW says for any resolution or contract to be valid, it has to be spread in the minutes of the meeting when it was approved. It wasn’t! Trammell and Salmon know this but still talk of the resolution as if it is sacrosanct.

Salmon has brought up having all this investigated (including ASWA) 3 times. Three times the BOC has denied him and the attorney has suggested to him 3 times to stop bringing it up. Instead Salmon wrote the USDA a letter, all but begging them to get involved and sue the county. He was elected a county commissioner, but his loyalties are not with the taxpayers and citizens he represents, but with the JCWSA and bankers and developers that want the county (taxpayers) to fund JCWSA so they can make more money.

Here is a copy of Salmon’s email to Senator Isakson’s office in April, which was forwarded to USDA:
http://www.taxdogs.com/Salmon%20letter%20to%20USDA%204.9.14.pdf

Here is a copy of the response from USDA dated June 2014 to Salmon (not to the BOC):
http://www.taxdogs.com/USDA%20letter%206.24.14%20to%20Salmon.pdf

Trammell read this letter out loud as if it was an indictment of the county. Instead it clearly admonishes the JCWSA for not taking care of its own business and suggested if they couldn’t make payments to raise their rates. Even while seemingly threatening the county with unspecified consequences, the message is clear, USDA can do nothing to pursue a perceived breach of contract between JCWSA and the Jasper County government. The county attorney told the BOC as much; he said he heard no threats of USDA doing anything when the letter was read.

If you want facts, here is one–NO hydrants were mentioned in the USDA scope of work and loan conditions dated July 17, 2002– 15 days after the alleged BOC fire hydrant resolution. In Section E of the loan conditions, it specifically notes a $30,000 per year commitment purportedly made by the county, and no mention of a fire hydrant fee. After all these years and all the documents we have obtained and reviewed, never once have we ever seen anything between JCWSA and the USDA concerning the loan which mentions fire hydrants. We have asked Mark Walton of JCWSA to produce any memos, letters, documents, etc. that show where the BOC asked the JCWSA to install hydrants (as JCWSA claims) and as of this date, none have ever been produced.

After a 30 minute work session (which Luke did not attend) and 46 minutes discussion during the regular meeting, the BOC voted to allow the county attorney to draw up an Intergovernmental Agreement, to last until 2045 according to Trammell, between JCWSA and JCBOC. We have to wonder if this agreement will be in addition to the tax levy that brings in $48,000 plus to the JCWSA each year—about $6,000 a year more than the fire hydrant resolution would provide in funds. We also have to wonder who will pay all this money—the taxpayers of the county or those JCWSA provides water to? And will all this extra money given to JCWSA go to pay on the USDA loan or to service the $40,000 loan made by the Bank of Monticello?

This is just another chapter in the closed door dealings concerning JCWSA. Has anything ever been upfront and public about JCWSA, including its inception? No, it has always been secret and behind our backs, and then it is done and taxpayers find out later. It can’t be open and transparent because the BOC knows that the people don’t want to fund JCWSA, so the secrecy prevails and the citizens get to suffer the consequences.

It’s not what you know, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you worse! This BOC will make sure you understand that.

 

Posted in County, Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

COUNTY FLOATING IN MONEY ACCORDING TO COUNTY MANAGER

July 22, 2014

Boat full of moneyAccording to County Manager/Finance Director, Karen Degges, the county is floating in money. At the 7/21/14 BOC meeting she informed the BOC she has “found” all sorts of money to spend. She is truly a miracle worker!

Monday night Ms. Degges repeatedly said the county had no cash flow problems, and in fact there was so much money that the BOC could just float money up front for JCWSA, and not only pay them the 2009 money that was never authorized by that BOC ($42,000 or so), but also give JCWSA money for the 2014 tax bills that have not even been sent yet (another $48,000 or so) and won’t be due until December 2014.

Ms. Degges said it was such a hardship for JCWSA that they just shouldn’t have to wait for their money, and the county certainly had enough money and should just go ahead and pay all this up front. The taxpayers could just wait to be reimbursed instead of making the poor JCWSA get their money as it was paid in. The taxes levied for JCWSA are designated solely for them and disbursed to JCWSA by the Tax Commissioner as taxes are paid . (There will be more in a separate blog about JCWSA after we receive all requested documents.)

Karen Degges told the BOC that she had done away with the EMS Billing position (you know, the one just advertised for) and by doing so she had “found” $33,000. Debria Murphy is going to be a full time EMT and do the billing.

But Degges failed to mention she had hired Michelle Haddock to help with EMS billing and to work with EMS, along with Debria Murphy who was also switched to EMS payroll. These moves would cut into that savings, but don’t tell the BOC that. They can pretend the money is there, and then they can spend it.

Later in the meeting another $75,000 was “found” and it was enough to hire a contractor to fix potholes on the county roads! This $75,000 was found by using the health insurance savings from changes in the new plan. There was already $64,000 of savings put into the contingency budget. An additional $8000 from some other changes discussed Monday night brings the total to $75,000 to be taken out of contingency.

Comm. Luke said Public Works had their hands full working on dirt roads, plus admitted he got calls about how potholes that were fixed by Public Works didn’t last more than 2 days.

 Isn’t it a pity Ms. Degges wasn’t diligent enough to find all this extra money before the BOC raised our taxes 2.15 mils? Or was the millage increased so the BOC would have enough to help pay JCWSA debt?

Here’s just a few more things money was spent on at the meeting:

·         Fire Station #3 building expansion $40,700

·         $39,400 for Landfill Contract

·         Reduced employee’s health insurance deductible to $1500. When the millage increased and the budget was approved, the deductible was set at $2500. The taxpayers are subsidizing the lower deductibles and are paying for all but $30 a month of the employees’ health insurance premiums. **Note: this increases the county’s potential cost, but that wasn’t discussed when the $75,000 was found (above).


Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and make good decisions.
That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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Posted in Budgets, County, EMS, Water | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

MONTICELLO SETS A TREND?

July 20, 2014

Police Car

No Cops in Washington

http://www.peachpundit.com/2014/07/18/no-cops-in-washington/#comments

July 18, 2014 13:56 pm

by Chet Martin

Washington, Georgia is going lawless. The town of 4,300 people, famous as the last meeting place of the Confederate cabinet and for its vintage Gone with the Wind advertisement, has disbanded its police force. The Wilkes County (population ~10,000) Sheriff’s Department will take over in a “money-saving move” according to Mayor Ames Barnett, who cast the deciding vote. Washington Police Chief Theodosia Glen was “not surprised” that she and her 14 police officers are out of a job but angry that the July 17 decision was made effective July 18.

For reasons I’ll never entirely understand, I have attended a couple meetings of the Washington Town Council. Though everyone I met was charming, the town’s political culture was less than genial. That such a sweeping measure managed to pass through a contentious body shows just how dire the financial situation must be.

Of the 159 counties, Wilkes is 127th largest. Roughly a fifth of counties in the state are smaller. Washington is the 186th largest incorporated city in a state of 573.  If a city in the top third of population wants to save by eliminating its police force, how difficult must it be for other small towns to balance a budget on shrinking populations and a dwindling tax base?

Police department must shut down in 24 hours

News 12 at 11 O’Clock / Thursday, July 17, 2014

Washington, Ga. (WRDW) — Washington’s top cop and 14 of her officers are now out of a job. Thursday city leaders decided the Wilkes County Sheriff can keep the city safe and save money at the same time. Mayor Barnett’s tie-breaking vote will force the department to close its doors tomorrow.

A day that started with a hopeful march outside ends with disappointment for some inside Washington’s City Council meeting.

“I move that all money in the current budget for the police department be reduced to zero July 18th, 2014 at 5pm,” Council member Mike Scarborough said.

The council vote came down to a three to three tie, with black members supporting the department and the white ones wanting to get rid of it. Washington’s Mayor broke the tie.

“The police department motion by councilman Scarborough passes 4 to 3,” Mayor Ames Barnett announced to the crowd.

Before the vote, person after person spoke in support of the police department, even someone who’s been put in cuffs by them.

“I’ve been arrested I don’t know how many times in this city and in this county by my own cousin who is the chief of police,” one supporter told the council.

The three council members supporting the department suggested cutting other city departments, reducing staffing at the PD, and even questioned the legality of how the vote went down. A stunning development for Police Chief Theodosia Glenn.

“Yes, I’m very shocked,” Glenn told News 12 after the meeting.

The chief says shutting her department down with less than 24 hours notice will hurt her and her 14 officers.

“I just had one officer come in tears saying that she worked hard for career and now it’s up in smoke,” she said.

However, supporters of the Washington PD say the fight is not over.

“I will prepare with a group out of Atlanta to bring federal litigation and we are also going to partner with the SCLC to ask for an economic boycott of Washington,” a supporter told the Mayor during the meeting.

The mayor says Thursday’s vote will save at least $100,000 a year and there are no guaranteed jobs for city cop’s at the county sheriff’s office.

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FIRE HYDRANT TAX DISTRICT ON BOC AGENDA FOR JULY 21ST

July 18, 2014

Water Tax

Once again, the Fire Hydrant Tax District has been set for a work session starting at 5:15PM. This tax was already set on 6/26/14 along with the millage rate. It brings in close to $48,000 a year for Jasper County Water and Sewer.

Despite the advice of the County Attorney, Comm. Trammell and Comm. Salmon just can’t leave the issue alone. Watch this discussion during the June meeting when Comm. Salmon wanted an investigation of the water authorities. The county attorney told him and the other BOC members they had no jurisdiction over the water authorities except to appoint their members.

Craig Salmon just can’t let this go. He has an agenda and he has repeatedly tried to do something despite being voted down 3 times this year.

During the May 13, 2014 meeting of JCWSA, Mr. Salmon attended to explain to them about the investigation he wanted. He did not attend or contact ASWA about this after his attempt at the May BOC meeting to have them investigated.

What the BOC has in mind is only known by them and their secret conversations. Take time to attend the meeting and hear this for yourself. No doubt members of JCWSA have been notified as they usually are and are allowed to speak during the work session while regular citizens are not.

 

Following is the BOC Agenda for the regular meeting July 21, 2014 at 6:00PM

Old Business: 

1.      Fire Hydrant Tax District Discussion (further discussion if needed)

2.      Fire Station #3 Building Expansion – Bid Results/Award of Bid/Encumbrance of FY2014 Budget Funds

3.      BB&T Fire Truck and Sheriff Vehicle Ratification

4.      LMIG 2015 RFP’s – Whitley Engineering

 

New Business:

1.      Adoption of new Landfill Consulting Contract – Triple Point Engineering

2.      Fire Station #1 Request to Bid – Roof Replacement

3.      Recreation Fee Structure – Family Discount Component

4.      NEGRC – Dept. of Human Services Coordinated Transportation Contract—NOTE:

A google search shows the following:

The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Coordinated Transportation System is administered by the Transportation Services Section within the Office of Facilities and Support Services (OFSS).

The system is designed to provide services to human services clients, and therefore is a human service transportation system. The system provides services to eligible consumers as identified by the Division of Aging, Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, the Department of Behavioral Health Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD Rehabilitative Services.

Comment: If this is what it appears, this is a bus (transport) service that the taxpayers provide—to take people to the doctor, shopping (out of the county), etc. free of charge by hiring more people, paying for gas, etc. Does the BOC need to add more “services” for a few people at the expense of the property owner? The millage rate just went up and this BOC has lists of new things to spend money on rather than concentrating on poor roads, lack of code enforcement, and things that affect all of the citizens of this county.

 5.      Budget Amendments – Finance

County Manager Items:

  1. Landfill Update
  2. Recreation Planning Update
  3. Health Insurance Deductiblethis item has been discussed 3 times by the BOC and the County Manager can’t seem to let it go.

 

Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and make good decisions. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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Posted in County, Water | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

HAVING TO FUND CODE ENFORCEMENT SEEMS LIKE A WASTE OF TAXPAYER’S MONEY

July 15, 2014

What? We need code enforcement! Well, do we really have any in Jasper County? Oh, yes, we have someone we pay as a “code enforcement officer”; in fact two people seem to share in this job- Sherry Braley and Brad Cherry. But is there really code enforcement in Jasper County? Let’s look at a few facts.

 ONE–At the end of 2012, Ms. Braley told the BOC she had over 100 active code enforcement citations, many in the Alcovy Shores & Rollingwood Cove area. In 2013 there were only 9 cases that went through Magistrate Court—none of which were from this area. What happened to all these citations? When a request was made for a list of citations, Ms. Braley said she no longer kept a list and didn’t have to because in essence, no one told her to or made her do so. Question: How does the County Manager or BOC know what Ms. Braley is doing if anything?

TWO–Two of the burned out houses that we know of have been brought to the attention of the code enforcement officers. What has been done about it? Nothing. One on County Line Rd. has been sitting for over 4 years.
County Line Rd Burned out house 2014

 

 
The other has been sitting on Hwy 212 W near the lake and Waters Bridge for over a year.Burned out house on 212

There are others like these in the county as well. Sherry Braley has told a citizen that asked, the ordinance in Jasper County states that if there was no insurance on the property, the owner has 90 days to remove the debris; if there was insurance involved the owner has 180 days.

Blighted and burned-out properties are eye sores and bring down surrounding property values. Citizens of this county should not have to tolerate something like this being next door or in their neighborhood for a year, or two, or more. That’s the reason for code enforcement.

THIRD-- Code Enforcement obviously has no oversight from the County Manager or the BOC.   So instead of making sure the people we have already hired are actually doing their jobs, we are going to hire someone else to help since Sherry and Brad are just so tremendously busy they can’t even enforce the codes on the books after a year or two of continuing violations.

And to make it worse, there are no logs or time sheets to tell us anything more than they work 8 hours a day. There is no log of what they have actually been doing during the 8 hours and how long each task might take.And if they are so very busy, why aren’t there any court records showing all these numerous violations? How much money has been collected for “violations” by our code enforcement officers and what were the violations?

Answers are very hard to find because when asked, our County Manager/Finance Director, Karen Degges, says all these things are private. She says special care has to be taken to keep everything private until the case is closed and names can’t be released of those given citations. And to even think about seeing anything, a fee must be received up front, and each item must be pulled from a file, etc. However, Ms. Braley keeps no master list and there are no citation copies to review that are kept in numerical order. In other counties you can read in the paper about the citations and violations and the owner’s names are listed! It’s hard to tell if Jasper County just keeps things private so we can’t tell if there are really any citations at all.

Because of all this secrecy, no one can know if we need another code enforcement officer or not. The BOC seems uninterested in finding out who does what and when and for how long in any department. It is easier just to hire another person; it is the government way to do things.

How many times have you gone by the “Planning and Zoning” office to get a permit, pay for your business license, or report a problem and it says CLOSED on the door? It can be any time during the day and sometimes most of the day, and no one is in the office. They are so busy “running up and down the road” as Comm. Luke put it. Doing what, he didn’t say and probably doesn’t know because no one does.

FOURTH– There are blighted properties like this all over the county–with

022814.Meadowlark.BrokenWindow

broken out windows, tires in the yard, and abandoned. This property is in Turtle Cove.   We have been told that there are two old trailers on Jackson Lake Rd. that used to have “red stickers” (condemnation) on them in 2012, but the stickers are gone and the trailers are still there. This is true all around the county. It causes a lowering of values in the area. And isn’t that the reason the BOC had to go up on our taxes? Comm. Trammell said the values were so low that it just wasn’t bringing in enough money to run the county so they had to increase our taxes 2.15 mils just to make it—and to hire another code enforcement officer.

 The county Code of Ordinances (below) will fine a citizen for failing to perform or for doing something in violation of this code. Yet, our code enforcement officers are not fined for not doing their jobs.  We citizens are just taxed more to pay their salaries and give them additional help if they are doing their job or not.

 

 

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Why is the New EMS Billing Clerk Allowed to Have 2 County Jobs?

July 9, 2014

Debria Murphy was hired to be the EMS billing clerk after she “audited” the 11-year EMS billing clerk and “found problems.” She is from Putnam County and has worked many years with Jasper’s new EMS Director, James Gregory.

A couple of weeks ago an ad was in the paper for an EMS Billing Clerk. EMSbillingAd

 

Strange, isn’t it? But maybe not. This could be the “cover” the county needs for never advertising for the position Ms. Murphy got, or it could be the “cover” they need for hiring the former (recently resigned) Coroner, Michelle Haddock, who is helping Ms. Murphy. Or the county might actually be hiring someone new; no one really knows because these things are secret until someone is hired.

The former Coroner, Haddock, has been helping Debria Murphy review the insurance billing reports; sort of a quality control person. Ms. Haddock is said to be starting work on an ambulance for EMS as an EMT as well as helping with the billing work.

Even more interesting is Debria Murphy now has two jobs with the county—in violation of the personnel policy. She is the EMS billing clerk (part of the financial staff), and she is working for EMS as an EMT. In fact sources tell us that she worked an EMS shift Monday night, then came to work on Tuesday to do billing and had to work until 6PM—getting overtime, no doubt. Debria’s partner on the ambulance is Roy Perry, another employee from Putnam County hired by James Gregory.
Maybe Debria Murphy’s working two jobs in two different capacities for the county is why she needs extra help with her billing job. But as long as she works for the same employer at two different jobs overtime comes into play, and that is a big no-no now. Well, it’s a no-no for most employees, but it may not be for someone our County Manager/Finance Director, Karen Degges, hired as a member of her team. $50,000 of overtime for EMS was taken out of the FY15 budget.

 If you didn’t read our blog as to how the current EMS billing clerk got her job, click here.

 

Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and make good decisions. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com                 www.facebook.com/taxdogs

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