Property codes rejected

LEESBURG, Ga. -- The Lee County Commission eased citizens' fears over what some were calling the "unreasonable guidelines" of the International Property Maintenance Codes by rejecting a call to implement those codes in the county and then officially made new Administrator Tony Massey a part of the government at the commission's monthly business meeting Tuesday.

While discussion of the IPMC drew plenty of concern during the commission's work session Feb. 8 and stirred up what proved to be unwarranted rumblings in the community in the days leading up to Tuesday's meeting, the commission voted to reject implementation of the codes in the county without discussion.

Commissioners ended the meeting by voting to approve a contract for Massey that calls for the administrator to receive an annual salary of $110,000. If the commission decides to terminate Massey's contract without cause, he will be paid six months' salary in a lump-sum payment, minus deductions.

The commission also voted to eliminate $50 non-transport fees charged by county EMS personnel when answering emergency calls that do not require transport to a health care facility. Since implementing the charge at the suggestion of Commissioner Dennis Roland, EMS has issued more than $78,000 in charges but has collected only about $18,000 of that total.

"I am the one behind this fee because (EMS Director) Bobby Watkins said his people were being called to people's houses to take blood pressure," Roland said before the vote. "Those ambulances should be used for emergencies. If we're going to do away with this charge, I suggest we find out who the people are who are making all these calls and buy them blood pressure machines so that our emergency personnel can respond to real emergencies."

Roland cast the lone vote against eliminating the fees.

The Commission also voted to approve a drainage easement request for property along Ledo Road and OK'd an amendment that will alter driveway design in the county.

"We're asking for this amendment to our code to bring it more in line with Georgia Department of Transportation standards," Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander said. "It also will make the ordinance more economically beneficial for future development."

Commission Chair Ed Duffy gave the Southwestern Circuit Misdemeanor Probation program championed by Chief Judge Rucker Smith a ringing endorsement before the board voted unanimously to continue serving as fiscal agent for the program.

"Judge Smith and his folks have done everything they said they'd do and more," Duffy said. "I see absolutely nothing wrong with this memorandum of understanding."

The commission formally voted to reappoint itself as the Parks and Recreation Authority and approved the establishment of the Lee County Foundation to accept charitable donations that -- with approval by the Internal Revenue Service -- will be tax deductible.

Prior to the business portion of the meeting, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Director of Nursing Todd Braswell and Phoebe Director of Critical Care Virgil Anderson donated a new Life Pack 12 cardiac monitor to Watkins for use by EMS.

"Recently a heart attack patient had a catheter inserted and a balloon placed in a blocked artery within 17 minutes of arriving at the hospital," Braswell said.

"It was because of this instrument," Anderson interjected. "It allows emergency personnel to bypass a lot of diagnostic work."

Watkins said the Life Pack was the sixth donated by Phoebe -- "at $25,000 each" -- to his staff.