October 6, 2015
Recently Fire and EMS have been requesting a lot of money because the 2012 SPLOST was passed with money appropriated for those departments. However, it is still the fiduciary duty, the sworn duty, of the commissioners to make sure the money is spent wisely.
A case in point is the expansion of Station 3 on Hwy 212W. On 1/6/14 the BOC approved the request to go out for bids on the expansion. On 4/7/14 James Gregory went before the BOC and told them the bids for the expansion had come in too high, way above their budget. The low bid was $128,150. Watch the presentation:
Mr. Gregory wanted the BOC to re-bid the expansion and get specs for only a metal building and slab and moving the electrical; they would not finish the inside part.
Comm. Bruce Henry asked, “Where will that leave us with just a shell?” James Gregory answered, “Lot of the work we may end up doing ourselves on the inside. We could get it dried in and move on.”
On 7/21/14 the BOC approved the bid of $40,700 for the building and slab. This extension has been completed.
On 9/21/15 Jarret Slocumb came before the BOC with a proposal to finish out the inside of the extension of Station 3. He said it would cost $31,845 in materials to finish out the building extension, and they needed to add $2000 more for a guard and supervisor from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to supervise the prisoners doing the work. Slocumb requested impact fees to cover the cost. (Note: James Gregory, Director, was not at the meeting to discuss this.)
It was also discussed that they would have to bid out HVAC separately because DOC can’t do HVAC. Plus “down the road” according to Jarret Slocumb, they would need a generator and other items. It appears they will continue to piece-mill this project until $100,000 plus is spent.
Watch the video as the BOC discusses the proposal:
Trammell made a motion to approve the numbers as they are presented. No second. He admonished Commissioners Henry and Pennamon for “double checking and double questioning the figures.” He said, “If we don’t trust folks let’s get rid of them.” (Yeah, well, Gene, there have been too many folks you’ve trusted lately and there’s missing money and who knows what else. It’s your duty to check these things!)
County Manager Benton wanted to test the numbers in the proposal at Home Depot. Comm. Pennamon questions how much paint, etc. Motion is made and seconded by Comm. Pennamon and Comm. Henry to let County Manager check the numbers and bring it back. @1:35 on video.
But Trammell again wants to plow ahead and just take Slocumb’s word that all the figures are “state contract numbers.” Then Jarret Slocumb says that DOC will just move on if they don’t go ahead and approve this. Comm. Pennamon questioned why DOC was even on site before BOC approval. Trammell tried again to get his way and have the motion thrown out. Watch at 2:50 on video. Trammell determines that Pennamon’s motion “is foolish.” So if the motions don’t agree with how Trammell thinks it should go, he does everything he can to shoot it down and get his way.
Why is Trammell so dead set on making sure the County Manager can not check the prices or the quantities being asked for? If there is a need for 10 gallons of paint and 20 gallons are ordered, who gets to take the other 10 gallons home? Comm. Pennamon alluded to this.
Comm. Trammell had everything so confused that at 4:17 on the video he called it all off and they would start again. They then voted to spend up to $34,000 even though Fire/EMS had only asked for $25,000. A $7000 figure for Heat & Air that could not be done by DOC, and should have been taken out, wasn’t because of all the confusion. This was approved 3-1 with Pennamon against and Luke absent.
Even though this had to be done right then, and they just couldn’t wait or DOC would move on, as of 10/6/15 NO WORK has been done. Additionally, before the BOC even approved this request, the DOC trailer had been sitting at the site for over a week.
This is just another way to rush everything up, say it has to be done right now or else, and the BOC goes ahead and votes on it. The work that Fire/EMS was going to do themselves is now going to be done by DOC prisoners and the county will pay for the supervisors and materials.
It will be interesting to see exactly how much the building is going to cost when all this smoke and mirrors clears up and the building is finished inside and out. And when we have a bigger building, will we also be able to staff at least two of the ambulances we have on a daily basis?
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.