May 13, 2015

Keep speaking the truthLast night at the BOC meeting we weren’t sure if Gene Trammell had lost his mind or just can’t remember from one day to the next what he says. He started the meeting this way, “Nobody ever mentioned closing Animal Control.” Watch his 57 second speech…

“Rumors” with no basis in fact? Nobody ever mentioned closing Animal Control? At the 5/7/15 budget hearing HE was the person that asked County Manager Karen Degges to go over the closure proposal. Here is a copy of the 2 separate budgets for Animal Control that are in the FY16 budget packet. The discussion about Animal Control, its budget, and the closure proposal lasted from approximately 7:15 to 7:25pm on May 7. If the tapes haven’t been destroyed or altered, they will show this was discussed.

Even though the other commissioners didn’t comment on Trammell’s blatant lie, Comm. Salmon did dispute what he said. He said it was indeed discussed, and we thank Comm. Salmon for being honest about it publicly. Watch the video with all the commissioners’ comments, and watch how Comm. Trammell tries to change the tone by interjecting “it wasn’t voted on.” (Comm. Salmon starts at :53 on the video.)

Karen Degges also has comments about what was discussed. Trammell says “nothing has happened.” Well, nothing is ever voted on during budget discussions, but maybe he forgot that too.

Trammell has to make another comment about RUMORS at the end of the Commissioner comments. “This is typical of the way rumors travel in Jasper County. I guess it..we just have any…we just don’t have anything to do. And we we try to tend to one anothers’ (sic) business.

What Trammell seems to forget so often as he is working “one on one” or behind closed doors, it is our business. It is the public’s business. And we will “tend to it” so we know what is going on and how much it is costing us! This is why it is called OPEN GOVERNMENT, which this BOC tries desperately to get around anyway they can.

The new discussion about Animal Control is now about how words are used–not “close” the shelter, but have it so one person picks up animals and takes them somewhere to be euthanized. They will still have one staff member, so in essence it won’t be closed down. And are there any guesses who that person will be? We are betting it will be the new ‘code enforcement officer’ that Karen Degges hired.   All she (Virginia Williams at $15/hour) does now is ride around with either Sherry Braley (the Animal Control director, Code Enforcement, P&Z person) or Brad Cherry the building inspector. She used to work in Baldwin, GA with Karen Degges and has been an Animal Control officer.

There has been NO air conditioning at Animal Control for a week or more. Any bets Karen Degges making $85,000 a year is sitting in her office without air conditioning? Or Mike Benton ($55,000/year) in his office, or Sherry Braley ($18/hour) in her office without air conditioning? But it is ok for the peons at Animal Control that make $8.00 per hour to suffer along with the animals there. Karen Degges says on Facebook that “she didn’t know about it.” Well, her Animal Control director, Sherry Braley knew about it; why didn’t she tell Ms. Degges? No, instead Degges tries to blame the Animal Control staff for not telling HER. Who is in charge—Karen Degges or Sherry Braley? The staff must stay confused, because we sure do at the meetings. If it is something to brag about Degges is in charge. If it is something else, Braley is in charge.

 There has been no money allowed to be spent on vet services recently either. Today RMG raised enough money to help a dog with a wound on his neck with maggots in it, and he was able to be seen by a vet today.

Mike Benton told the BOC during his quarterly financial report on 5/4/15 that Sherry was not letting Animal Control spend any money because they had gone over budget in some areas. BUT when any other department goes over budget, he and Karen Degges come with a budget amendment and have plenty of money left in contingency to move to that department’s budget so they can continue to spend. In fact, both Benton and Degges have bragged to the BOC how they still have over $100,000 in contingency and have been finding ways to spend it during the budget hearings. But not for animal control! No air conditioning, no money for traps or a catch pole, no money for a vet to look at hurt or wounded dogs, but plenty of money for everyone else.

Here’s some examples..

Karen Degges just hired a new person this Monday 5/11/15 —an administrative specialist at $15 per hour—to help Sherry Braley, to help Mike Benton, to help her do whatever it is she does. Today Degges’ spent hours of county time on the Facebook page of the rescue group that pours time and money into the animals at the Jasper County shelter and to give those folks a budget lesson.) Karen Degges makes $85,000 or $40.87 per hour. She is always so overwhelmed with her work, which mostly consists of stirring up confusion and trouble and then convincing the BOC she can fix it. Her Facebook time today cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.

She added more money in the P&Z budget to make sure her friend got full time pay all during the new budget year at $15 per hour.

–She has moved contingency money into Public Works after spending $25,000 more on plate dirt than the BOC approved.

Economic Development already gets $60,000 a year and they have asked for another $47,511. A $10,000 increase is suggested by the County Manager.

–We could go on and on, but the problem is here, someone does not want Animal Control to succeed.   The BOC was misled with bloated utility figures and problems that don’t exist. (The utility bills paid in April only totaled a little more than $400, not the $1000’s the BOC was told was happening.)

Karen Degges also says in her Facebook posts that she has to cut the budget. No, that is not true. She has to cut the 12% proposed increases in the FY16 budget—the wish lists every department has submitted. The current budget is $8.8 M; the proposed wish list is $10,000,444. So this isn’t about “lean years” and huge cuts; this is about cutting wish lists that some departments will get and others won’t. Animal Control seems to be one that won’t.

This morning (May 13, 2015) Karen Degges showed up at Animal Control and happened to be there when a citizen arrived. She was sitting in her car talking with one of the Animal Control staff that was standing outside. There is no telling what she was unhappy about, but based on her Facebook posts today, we can guess what it was all about. The BOC refuses to reign in this bully, and employees are too worried about keeping their jobs (except for a very few chosen few) to do anything about it.

Karen Degges whines about all the “hard budget years” ahead of the county on her Facebook posts about Animal Control, but brags to the BOC in a power point presentation that the county will have a $630,000 surplus for FY14 (no audit finished yet) and Mike Benton said FY15 will have a $500,000 surplus. So which is it?   Again, the problem is, Karen Degges can make any department look bad if she wants something changed. Right now it is Animal Control. Animal Control is one of the few budget areas we saw that no pay raises are requested on the FY16 budget. Why is that?

Here’s just part of Degges’ post on RMG’s Facebook“Yes, we are in a very tough budget year, and whether I personally like it or not, I was instructed to deliver to the board a balanced budget at various millage rates. Some commissioners want to lower the millage rate, so I was charged with finding ways to cut between $850,000 and $1,500,000 million dollars. To the person above who suggested we start cutting with our salaries…the entire county payroll (including the sheriff’s office, ambulance drivers and so on) is less than $500,000 so we could all be let go and it wouldn’t be enough money…that’s how much we have to cut this year.”

These are the kinds of blatant lies told by the County Manager and repeated by the BOC. She says that the entire county payroll is $500,000 a year!! Her own report in the budget packet shows ONE DAY of pay for the county is $14,255.60 or $3,706,716 per year. If you add in the FICA and retirement that must be paid, one day is $15,975.32 or $4,153,583 per year. Look at this schedule and see what Animal Control costs the county in salaries.  (Salaries are almost 1/2 of the annual county budget.)

When did all the problems with Animal Control start? Right after Comm. Henry made mention at a BOC meeting that he wished everything was running as smoothly as Animal Control was. This was when the $72,000 renovation of the Animal Control building was completed (with funds Rescue Me GA worked to have donated, not Jasper County staff or commissioners) and there was going to be a grand opening. Ms. Degges had rarely if ever been to Animal Control before then, but right after all the hoopla, she sent Mike Benton (CFO) down to Animal Control to inform them they couldn’t spend any more money. The real problem here was RMG got the credit they deserved, Comm. Henry commented everything was going well, and Karen Degges wasn’t in the limelight she so craves.

Yes, TWG does bring issues to the forefront, and we will continue to do so. With the blatant lies told and the secret meetings held by this BOC and their staff, no one knows what they will do. They did present a closure of Animal Control budget and they did discuss it with Comm. Trammell leading the way. These are not vicious rumors, and the blatant lie in denying it by Comm. Trammell shows why people of this county do not trust him or the BOC.

As we said in our first post about this proposal–We have learned long ago, if something is presented and no one says anything about it, it will happen. By alerting people to this possibility, the BOC knows where those who contacted them stand on the issue. The BOC can find all sorts of money to fund everything else, why not animal control?

Again, here are the numbers and email addresses for the Commissioners. Take time to let them know your feelings on this issue.


District 1 Pennamon   762-435-9766

District 2 Henry       706-819-3943

District 3 Trammell                  706-468-0554

District 4 Salmon   706-819-9561

District 5 Luke            706-819-3933

When will enough be enough? When will the citizens of Jasper County decide they want the truth and honesty and demand it? Soon, we hope!

Please forward this to your email list, and take time to get involved.



Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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  1. Barbara says:

    Trammell reminds me of Bill Clinton as he wagged his finger at us and told us what he didn’t do with that woman.

  2. Sam says:

    “It’s just a rumor and I don’t know how it got out” said Commissioner Trammell. It’s not a rumor. Commissioner Salmon explained that all options are on the table and closing the shelter was presented as one option. Thank you for your honesty, Commissioner Salmon.

    The way it got out is by people actually reading the material that the public has a right to see. People are proactive because if they wait until something is passed; it is too late to let their wishes known. What are the chances that a budget gets changed, because tax payers are complaining about one thing or another, after is has been approved? Slim to none.

    Thanks to the folks that stood up against closing the shelter, the possibility of closure just became a less attractive option.

    I often get the impression that most of the commissioners have not read the information given to them. Either that, or some commissioners have ADD.

  3. Missy says:

    I wish Ms. Degges would actually cut the budget. A decrease in the size of a proposed increase is not a budget cut.

    When a department wants an increase of $10,000.00 but only gets an increase of $3,000.00 it is not a budget cut of $7,000.00. It is an increase of $3,000.00

    This appears to be a government illness as the Congress in Washington DC tries to sell us the same kind of fuzzy math.

    Last fiscal year’s budget was $8.8 million. With a projected surplus of somewhere in the $300,000 to $500,000 (depending on who is giving the information). I question why the budget cannot stay at $8.8 million for this fiscal year. The property assessments have gone up. A millage decrease to attain the same $8.8 million would be prudent.

  4. LR Short says:

    Vicious Rumors, In Search of the Source
    hmmm…where could this vicious rumor have originated?

  5. Wondering says:

    | | | |

    | | |  Excuse me … Did I somehow miss a job posting in the county? $15.00 per hour. Wow, I may have jumped all over that ..Being a long time tax payer in this county. I drive all the way into downtown to earn $14.52 per hour ($30,201.00 annually) but then, I don’t have to part of a questionable group of folks ! Where did this woman come from and who does she have compromising pictures of…jeez..! By the way, I know the solution to the Animal Control / Issue … Mandatory “Volunteering” for the folks on Probation and the Trustees, Probationers that get revoked. PROBLEM SOLVED!


    • Gay Morrison says:

      Not completely. Yes using the prisoners, that qualify, is a fantastic way to get a lot of the grunt work done. They usually do a very good job simply because this gives them an opportunity to do something more fun than their other options and they do not generally want to screw that opportunity up. Community Service folks are harder to use, they just want to get their hours and leave, there is no real incentive to a good job.

      I am an experienced Nationally Certified Animal Control Officer/Kennel Technician/ Shelter Operations, that lives only 8 mins away from our shelter. I chose this as a career after volunteering at our shelter for a while. I wanted to be the person there for the animals when they found themselves in the unfortunate position of being in the shelter. I signed up and paid for all classes available to become the most educated person I could be in this field. The very first thing I learned was that I knew nothing about animal control. It has a lot of twist and turns, laws and scenerio’s and can be very dangerous and unpredetictable, not only with the animals but with the people you encounter as well. All animal control and shelters need someone that is trained and experienced. The job of Kennel Technician can be just as dangerous. Once the Animal Control Officer brings that animal into the shelter the Kennel Technician takes on the responsibility. Those animals are scared, some are sick, some are injured some are all of the above. Then there are those that are just aggressive. Be it aggressive to people, dogs, cats or other animals, or all or some of the above. The Kennel Technician has the job of handling those animals. The Kennel Technician needs to know how to handle, what they need to get better, if sick or injured and if they need a Vet or not. They need the supplies to do their job as well. They also have the responsibility to make the hard decesion on wether or not that animal needs to be euthanized or not. They also have the job of euthanizing that animal as well. This is not an easy task, it is emotional and can take a toll if the shelter is not being ran properly and supported by the powers that be. They also need the support of the community. Then there is all the office task. The community needs and wants a shelter and animal control they can communicate with. Without some one that knows how to run a shelter properly we will never have that at our shelter. I have the real soultions and experience but what I do not have is the BOC willing to take the chance and put me there. They will not even return my calls. The reason is not really clear, except that I have fought for a better animal control for years and they would rather do anything or anyone but me. Why do I even care or even have the desire to want to fix OUR animal control and shelter when I have a perfectly great job dong that for another county? I can not come up with an answer to that, but I do.

  6. Minding My Own Business says:

    “Nobody ever mentioned closing animal control “Gene Trammell

    “The last meeting when this came up, I specifically mentioned that we look at all options, every single year, all options, um …and the wording “close the shelter”… did come up “ Craig Salmon

    I can’t decide if Commissioners Trammel is deliberately trying to mislead the citizens of Jasper County on the Animal Control business or he simply has a memory problem that conflicts with actual events.

    Even after Commissioner Salmon reveals the truth to all present that the BoC did indeed discuss the closure of the Animal control, Commissioner Trammel still maintains his vicious rumor farce. Strange.

    “This it typical of the way rumors travel in Jasper County .I guess’s just that ..we just don’t …we just don’t have anything to do … and so we try to tend to one anothers (sic) business “ Gene Trammell

    For the chairman of the BoC to engage is such a bizarre and inexplicable spectacle is truly unfortunate for the citizens of Jasper County. The public trust in this BoC , due to their repeated engagement in secrecy, deceit and obfuscation was already on the wane and the incredulous dialogue of this meeting certainly did nothing to shore up that trust.

    It’s hard to see how the Board can continue to enjoy any support by any thinking Jasper County voter after this public fiascos which was attempted to be passed off as a serious review of County business.

    Also, listening to the ever changing story-line of the County Manager Karen Degges , one cannot discern whether the county coffers are flush with cash or teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Which is it?

    At one meeting the BoC is frivolously spending money like a besotted wino that just hit the mega-game lottery and at the next, they’re crying over the debt hangover they wildly indulged in and sniveling on about how to make the red ink headache stop.

    It doesn’t appear that any member of the BoC has an inkling of a notion as to what shape the County finances are actually in, and what’s more it seems they could care less. Not one of these so called leaders has dared question the County Manager’s wild swinging explanations of how our money is being managed and what degree of public debt we now hold, or how can the taxpayers expect to service the growing public debt burden without a substantial increase in millage rates.

    This rank amateur BoC clearly has some competency and honesty issues that need to be addressed by the voters of this County, and the sooner the better before every dollar in the county tax revenue fund is replaced with nothing but IOUs.

    It should be obvious to every concerned citizen by now that our County Commissaries have shown themselves to be both unwilling and unable to administer the office of the County Manager, which leads to the only recourse left the citizens of Jasper County. I think the citizens of Jasper County would be remiss in not demanding a full and independent investigation of the office of the County Manager. Something really smells off in that department.

    While it may be difficult for Mr. Trammell to understand, nevertheless it is a fact. The business of the County is the business of the people, and when concerned citizens are tending to the business of the County , they are in fact tending to their own business.

    It’s not really that difficult a concept to understand…..unless you choose not to.

  7. gary says:

    My problem lies in the fact that the county still has no audited financial report.
    How can anyone make intellegent decisions on tax mills when there is no financial report.
    Deggess needs gone.

  8. cheryl nowetner says:

    until the AC at animal control is fixed I think Karen, Sherry and Brad should share a cage there. They never are in their office to do work so nothing will get done there either but they will have the chance to see how the animals feel.

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