Duffy, Muggridge reappointed to Lee posts

LEESBURG -- Ed Duffy and Rick Muggridge will return as chairman and vice chair, respectively, of the Lee County Commission after being reappointed to those posts unanimously at a Commission work session Tuesday night.

The vote by the board preceded a surprisingly positive audit report from Bill Rambo and Nichole Ranew of Geer & Associates, a report that noted a $620,000 surplus enjoyed by the county during the 2008-09 fiscal year.

"You also did not tap into your reserve funds for $1.2 million as you'd planned during the budget process, so you actually realized a $1.8 million turnaround," CPA Rambo told commissioners. "Given the tough economic times others are going through, this is great. You guys did a fantastic job; this is one of the better-run counties we've seen."

In his first action as 2010 chairman, Duffy reappointed Commissioner Bill Williams and himself to the board's Budget and Finance Committee, Muggridge and Commissioner Betty Johnson to the Personnel Committee and Williams and Commissioner Dennis Roland to the county Road Committee.

"I see no reason to make changes; I think y'all have done a great job," Duffy said.

The Commission held three public hearings during the course of the work session, including a request by Claude Brock that he be granted a variance for the purpose of expanding a nonconforming cattle lot on property at Old Stage Road and Groover Street.

The county's Zoning and Planning Commission had recommended denying Brock's request, and a number of residents spoke out against it at the hearing Tuesday.

Jeff Sexton refuted Brock's claim that "only 23 residents were affected" by his plan to allow cattle on property zoned residential and "none of them oppose."

"I know from campaigning there that there are about 160 people affected, and none of the ones I've talked with likes this (request)," Sexton, who ran unsuccessfully for the Leesburg City Council last year, said.

Esta Jordan told the board he owns the adjoining property to Brock's and that Brock had created water issues on Jordan's property by installing a culvert. Jordan also complained about the potential smell of cattle.

"I never had a water problem on my property, not even with the floods (of '94 and '98), but since he put that culvert in water is flowing into my yard," Jordan said.

Other public hearings involved the proper location of a second driveway on Cecil Humphries' Glen Arven Drive property and a rezoning request by William Alcorn for 3 acres of land at Middle Road from agriculture to residential.

Planning Director Bob Alexander recommended that the Commission accept a low bid of $1,776,674.05 submitted by Oxford Construction Co. for work on the proposed Robert B. Lee Drive/Lovers Lane Road/State Highway 32 truck route. The county's allocated portion of the project comes at a cost of $800,000, with a like amount coming from the state Department of Transportation.

"We're about $76,000 short (of the bid), but we have $900,000 set aside in SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) V funds, so we could complete the project using that money," Alexander said.

Other issues discussed by the board included:

- a proposed discount inmate medical care program;

- road upkeep on Old Leslie Road;

- renewing a methane and ground water monitoring contract with TTL Engineering;

- redistribution of more than $200,000 in an employee benefit forfeiture account;

- qualifying fees for the 2010 election cycle;

- the declaration of surplus property for trade-in value or sale on the govdeals.com Web site.