Dougherty improvements help with heavy rains

ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County Public Works Director Larry Cook told the Dougherty County Commission Monday morning improvements made by the county following a “a 2009 weather event similar to the one we’re having now” have lessened the impact of heavy rains on the region.

With as many as 15 inches of rain forecast for the region by the time skies clear around noon today, Cook said Public Works crews had been working “non-stop since Friday” to pump standing water out of low-lying areas and to monitor potential trouble spots in the county.

“The work that we did after the 2009 event has been very beneficial,” Cook said. “We’ve made tremendous improvements.”

County Administrator Richard Crowdis said officials had pooled remaining SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) III and IV storm drainage improvement money (around $650,000) to make improvements that included installation of pipes in trouble areas that allow for quick attachment of portable pumps used to remove standing water.

The commission also got an initial audit report from the Mauldin & Jenkins CPA firm’s Craig Moye, a senior manager with the firm, that offered a “clean, unqualified opinion with no misstatements.”

“That’s what you want to hear,” Moye said of the audit. “There are findings that are not in your control, but all in all this was a great audit.”

The firm’s findings included the addition of $400,000 to the county’s General Fund, even after a $318,000 deficit in the county’s special unincorporated tax district.

“The 2-mill increase that you incorporated into your budget should take care of that shortfall,” Moye said.

The commission also received reports from EMS Director Greg Rowe and interim County Police Chief Jackie Battle during the meeting, which was chaired by Vice Chairwoman Gloria Gaines in the absence of Chairman Jeff Sinyard.

Rowe said EMS had generated $3.3 million in revenue during 2012, handling 21,342 calls and covering 67,176 transport miles.

Battle said DCP is having a hard time finding qualified applicants to fill four vacant positions, citing higher-paying opportunities with surrounding law enforcement agencies, and those vacancies led to a general downturn in the number of cases worked and the number of patrol miles covered during the year.

The interim chief said the department responded to 22,485 calls, while Animal Control received 1,598 calls. Income from traffic citations decreased from a year ago to $548,000.

Commissioners also received information on a zoning request to operate a 20-acre surface mine “borrow pit” to use as cover dirt on property at the former Merck Chemical plant, on the low bid ($138,719) by Jim Boyd Construction for sewer extension out Sylvester Road so that Southern Ag Carriers can expand its capacity, and on an alcohol license request by Theresa Coslow English for Cowboy Bill’s Bar at 4502 Sylvester Road.

Assistant County Administrator Mike McCoy said the county’s expense through its shared sewer extension agreement with Southern Ag would be $60,000, which would come from SPLOST III sewer extension funds.